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Paella June 9, 2010

Posted by inspiredbywolfe in Chicken, Fish, Pork, Seafood.
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It’s a bit of a shame that the countries we chose in our Eurovision tour performed so badly in the actual Eurovision contest! I hope our cooking didn’t jinx them – next year we’ll err on the side of caution and make some dishes from the United Kingdom, since they traditionally do so poorly anyway…

I roughly followed the recipe here to make the paella. I say “roughly” because I deviated as soon as I got to the first sentence – “don’t add too many ingredients…” – well, I added a few more than those listed in the recipe! I also didn’t have a paella pan to use so cooked everything in a large, flat-bottomed frypan instead.

To start with, I cooked the chicken, chorizo and prawns in a bit of olive oil – I didn’t need much oil as the chorizo gave off a fair amount of oil as it was cooking. It was rather painful doing this as the first step as I then had a bowl of delicious cooked meat to snack on while I made the rest of the paella!

Next, I added chopped onions and garlic to the pan and cooked them until the onion was soft. Again, I didn’t bother using any additional olive oil, as there was still a fair amount of oil left in the pan from the chorizo. Once the onions had cooked for a bit, I added chopped tomatoes, salt and pepper, and let them all simmer together.

I let them cook down until there was no liquid left in the pan; at that point, as per the recipe, I added more water and again let everything cook down until it was almost a paste. This whole process took 30-40 minutes.

For the next part, I heated some saffron strands and when they changed colour, removed them from the heat and mixed them in some water. I added the previously cooked meats back to the pan, added the saffron and some water. When the water boiled, I added the rice. Here’s what it looked like just after I’d added the rice (the rice immediately fell to the bottom of the pan).

I let this simmer on low for a few minutes while I cleaned some mussels I’d bought, and chopped up some fish. I added the fish and mussels to the mixture, being careful not to stir – I squashed the fish pieces down into the rice and pushed the mussels in as far as they would go. I let it cook a little longer, until the mussels started to open, and then turned off the heat and covered it with a teatowel. Warning: this may result in bits of teatowel turning bright yellow and red!

The smell by this time was overwhelming and it was hard to resist not digging in at the stove! I distracted myself long enough to allow the paella to finish cooking and then served it.

I will concede that I understand why the advice is given not to add too many ingredients – although my paella was still absolutely delicious! However, it did feel a little incoherent (if food can feel incoherent…) in that there were so many different tastes and things to try the overall feeling of the dish was a little lost. Having said that, it was incredibly flavoursome, the rice was delicious on its own – it was salty, a bit fishy and tangy – and having all the different ingredients in there made it a lot of fun to eat. I was surprised but pleased at how the saffron flavour had penetrated through the dish.

All in all, I was happy with how the paella had turned out – it was a nice conclusion to our Eurovision food tour. We will have to ensure that next year we choose some different countries’ cuisine to sample – Germany was the winner, so maybe some bratwurst is coming up!

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