"I hate people who are not serious about their meals."

Oscar Wilde,
The Importance of Being Earnest

Tuesday, June 15, 2010


Tonight's meal was supposed to be a stir-fry, but when we discovered that our egg noodles were past their use by date, and our bean sprouts had turned to liquid in their bag, we had to go back to the drawing board.  A quick survey of the refridgerator turned up a few prawns, some chicken breasts, and a little chorizo.  Sounded like the beginnings of a paella to me, and so this is what I came up with.  I also had a yellow bell pepper that I was going to use in the stir fry, so rather than let that go the way of the bean sprouts I threw it in too.  If I'd thought about it more beforehand I think I would have roasted the pepper first to further enhance the flavour (and let's face it, red would definitely have been better on the colour front).  I am hesitant to call this dish 'Paella' as it isn't one in the traditional sense, and I don't want to offend any Spaniards out there.  I don't have a Paella pan, so it didn't quite develop that crusty, toasty layer of rice on the bottom that is so integral to the tastiness of Paella.  The flavours and cooking process are definitely inspired by the eponymous dish, but I think this is really somewhere between a risotto and a pilaf.  Not quite as creamy as the former, nor as fluffy as the latter.  Well, whatever you'd like to call it, it was certainly tasty!

Nearly Paella
adapted from Jamie Oliver
serves 4-6

4 chicken breasts, quartered
salt and pepper
plain flour
1 tablespoon olive oil
150g/5oz chorizo, sliced
4 cloves garlic, finely chopped
2 litres/68 fl.oz of chicken stock, heated and kept warm
1 teaspoon saffron
1.5 teaspoons smoked paprika
500g/17.6oz rice (calasparra or bomba is traditional, I only had arborio and it turned out fine)
1.5 cups frozen peas
1 small bell pepper, cut into thin strips (roast beforehand if you prefer)
10 prawns

Preheat oven to 375F/190C.  Season the chicken pieces with salt and pepper and then dust with flour.  Heat the olive oil in a large, deep frying pan (or paella pan) and fry the chicken until golden brown.  Place the chicken pieces on a baking tray and pop into the oven for 20 minutes.

Divide your stock in half, and place the saffron threads in one quantity to infuse.  Return the pan to the heat, add the sliced chorizo and fry until browned and crisp.  Next, add the onion and garlic and cook until soft.  Add the paprika, rice and infused stock and cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally, for 20 minutes of until most of the liquid is absorbed.  (Don't over stir, you don't want to massage the starch out of the rice like you do with risotto. Paella isn't supposed to be creamy.) Add the peas, prawns and pepper to the pan, followed by the remaining half of the stock.  Cover the pan and cook for 10 minutes.  Add the cooked chicken pieces and stir to combine.  Serve with lemon wedges.


Madalene said...

Looks delish and a hella lot better than then the cheese jaffles I resort to when my dinner plans fall through but Mrs McGill, prawns? I understand are essential to a paella but what of your aversion lady?

semolina pilchard said...

Ah well, yes - that was me being diplomatic. I like the flavour they impart, but I can't get used to the texture. So the man ate all the prawns, you can be sure of that!

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