When Rick Stein published his latest book, and was coming over to Guildford for a book signing, I had the flu. Typical. When J saw that I just couldn’t make it, he went to the venue for me with my copy, making sure I wouldn’t miss the autograph part. I would have like to say hello to Mr. Stein myself, but that’s how life is sometimes.
I have not been able to cook much from Rick Stein’s book Spain, but I have found a recipe which inspired me to make a version of his Paella Valenciana. I have changed a few things here and there primarily because I didn’t have some of the ingredients. So I raided the fridge to see what I could find. It was a bit touch and go; I wasn’t confident that this would work, so I asked J for some advice. If you decide to try this make sure to read the recipe before. It’s really simple mind you, but the steps are very important.
Paella is ideal for a supper party. With these quantities you will have enough for 6 people with some left-overs. This dish is very easy to make; it just requires a bit of looking after…
Before I go on I would just like to say something about paella in general. Although it is not a risotto, so no continuous stirring is needed, you still need to check that nothing sticks to the bottom of the pan. So make sure to stir and scrape the rice from the bottom of the pan once in a while. Thus ended my rant. You will need:
- 500g boneless chicken thighs, chopped into bite-sized pieces
- 500g paella rice (available in supermarkets)
- 1 large onion, chopped in large dice
- 2 garlic cloves, crushed
- 1 teaspoon paprika
- 1.25 litres chicken stock (or vegetable stock)
- 1 green pepper, diced
- 1 cup frozen peas
- 2 teaspoons saffron, steeped in warm water and sieved*
- 240g dried chickpeas, cooked (or 410g can drained and washed under cold water)
- 400g polpa di pomodoro (or large can whole tomatoes cut in chunks)
- 1 teaspoon dried rosemary (Do not use too much or it *will* taste so soapy!)
- Place the chicken in a bowl and season it well with a little salt and as much pepper (approximately ½ a teaspoon each is ok) as you like. Mix well. When you think you have enough seasoning, heat a large ovenproof pan. I use a large cast-iron one – a favourite of mine. Using a tablespoon or so of olive oil (not extra virgin), brown the chicken on all sides. Remove the chicken pieces from the pan and wrap these in some kitchen foil to keep warm. Set aside until needed.
- If see the need add another tablespoon of olive oil in the pan and tip in the onion, garlic and paprika, and stir. After 5 minutes or so add the polpa di pomodoro. Let the bottom of the pan de-glaze for a few more minutes. Now add the green pepper, cooked chickpeas, frozen peas. Mix everything together, add the stock, rosemary and the saffron infused water.* You just need the water here; that’s where the flavour is.
- It’s time to add the rice, and stir this into the stock. Scatter the browned chicken pieces onto the rice and leave it be. Simmer on a medium/high heat for around 5 minutes, then turn the heat low and leave it for another 15 minutes or so, that nothing sticks to the bottom of the pan.
- When you see that the rice has absorbed the stock, turn off the heat and cover the pan with a clean dish cloth for a few moments. At this point it’s ok if your guests turn up a bit late! Fluff up the rice with a fork before serving.
Please note that the above photo was taken before any fluffing occurred, in case you’re asking. Enjoy.