Culinary Odyssey (part 4): La Paella - Spain
By Dan Jackson, Exodus Agency Sales Manager
I’m still recovering from the nerve shredding experience that was sitting through the Wimbledon final between Nadal and Federer. Even a non-tennis fan surely couldn’t fail to be gripped by the drama and tension of possibly the best ever men’s singles final. Therefore in saluting Nadals heroics my July dish is a Spanish classic, which can be adapted in many ways.
The Paella I like to make at home is an all singing all dancing affair laden with seafood and meat, although regional Spanish variations abound. Lets just say this is the Champions version, and in this supposed gloomy economic climate making this lavish but simple dish will bring a smile to your face and a content fullness to your stomach.
La Paella is actually a cooking utensil, traditionally quite shallow and made of iron, circular and with two handles on opposite sides. Paella originated in Valencia (Paella is Valencian for frying pan) where peasants would cook rice with basic, easily available ingredients such as onion, tomatoes and snails.
As this is a rustic, peasant style dish (although I’m giving you my personal Rafa Nadal Champions recipe) ingredients are flexible according to personal preference as are amounts used according to taste.
Learn to cook La Paella (Spanish Style) - Free cooking demonstration of Gazpatcho soup, Sangria and a giant Paella on the poolside terrace for all Exodus clients travelling to Cortijo in August and September 2008. A complimentary Cortijo Cookbook is available as well.
Ingredients – serves 2 greedy people like me
1 generous cup of Bomba rice
White wine and chicken stock half a cup of each (add more depending on how you go)
Half a Spanish onion
Pinch of paprika
Dozen or so capers
A cup of frozen peas
1 small red Pepper roughly chopped
1 clove Garlic
Handful of black olives
Pinch of saffron strands
2 chicken thighs
6 raw king prawns
Handful roughly chopped but chunky pieces of chorizo
Handful of flat leaf parsley chopped
Salt and pepper to taste
(I don’t use snails in my version)
I tend to brown the skin of the chicken thighs on a very high heat just for 6-8 minutes then remove them from the pan.
Using same olive oil and chicken juice, sauté the onion and garlic, add the pepper then add the rice making sure it gets thoroughly coated in the oil. Takes about 5-7 minutes
Add the stock and white wine gradually. Place the part cooked chicken thighs back into the mix and now add olives, paprika, saffron, peas, capers and chorizo.
Continue to cook for a further 10 minutes reducing down any excess liquid.
Add the mussels and prawns, salt and pepper – these take only 5 minutes to cook with the lid on now so the steam cooks the mussels
Final touch is to sprinkle the parsley over the top, and raise a glass to the super human efforts of Senor Nadal in overcoming the outgoing champion Roger Federer – maybe I’ll do something Swiss next time as we shouldn’t forget Roger’s immense contribution to the game, although Fondue has to be the most pointless dish since tofu was created.
I recommend you enjoy my champion’s paella with a glass of Rioja. Red or white Rioja will serve an ace, as either will compliment this dish with its chicken, chorizo, mussels and prawns. Alternatively, crack open a bottle of San Miguel if lager is more your scene.
By the way, I sampled an amazing Flemish style eel stew recently at a cosy little family run eaterie in Bruges. If you are a fish fan and haven’t given eel a whirl please do so. You’ll need to negotiate a bit of bone and it’s a different texture to many types of fish but it’s a delicious, very flavoursome alternative to the usual suspects available in your fishmonger.
LEARN TO COOK - SPANISH STYLE
On our holiday; A week in Andalucia at the Cortijo Rosario departing this August and September you can enjoy a free cooking demonstration. Learn to make Gazpatcho soup, Sangria and a giant Paella on the poolside terrace. We're also throwing in a fabulous cookbook.
Read the review on the Cortijo Rosario from one of our clients.