It’s been a weird summer weather-wise. I’ve stayed in the UK, working on my house and garden, painting rusty gates, weeding, and saying things like ‘ooh sun’s over the yard arm, time for a drink’ as it approaches 5pm. In Spring, I invested in an awning from The Victorian Awning Company, so even the rain hasn’t stopped me eating outdoors. It’s been lovely, my nine month old granddaughter Ophelia in a high chair, eating the same food as the adults in a method known as baby-led weaning.
It’s a moment to recreate a holiday vibe by cooking vacation food. This is an unconventional recipe for paella, probably Spain’s most famous dish, because it contains no seafood, or as in the case of Valencian paella, chicken.
The most important ingredient in Paella is the rice. I’m using a short-grained type called La Bomba. Brindisa sell a single estate variety ‘illa de Riu‘ from Tarragona. Monika Linton, the founder of Brindisa describes it as “the Japonica type, which is plump and slightly opaque with a bright white concentration of starch in the centre of the grain”.
From my research, both risotto and paella contain short-grained rice but risotto grains form a binding creamy sauce, while paella grains swell, absorbing up to three times their size without breaking. Paella rice should remain separate, slightly dry and even a bit crispy, part of the famous soccarat ‘crust’ at the bottom.
I used a traditional black and white steel enamel paellera, picked up in Spain for about four euros, which you can buy here at souschef.co.uk. This pan has, like cast iron pans, been seasoned with oil, then cooled, to create over time, a non-stick base.
In Spain, they cook a paella over a wood fire, so it could be made over a barbecue for instance but our rainy summer obliged me to cook indoors, over a gas hob.
A paella should not be stirred, so you have to watch the sides carefully to make sure all the liquid is absorbed evenly.
Again using paella rice, there is a recipe for overnight orange rice pudding.
- 100 ml olive oil
- 6 shallots, finely sliced
- 3 red peppers, deseeded, stems and white pith removed, thinly sliced
- 2 long green peppers,deseeded, stems and white pith removed, thinly sliced or use a dozen whole padron peppers
- 4 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 kilo La bomba rice
- 3 nyora dried peppers, soaked in hot water
- Pinch saffron
- 100 ml white white or dry sherry
- 3 litres hot vegetable stock including nyora water.
- can green olives
- 75 g smoked almonds
- bunch parsley
- 1 lemon, cut into wedges
- Prep all the ingredients and have them ready to use.
- Put the paella pan on the hob or fire on a medium to low heat, with the olive oil.
- When the oil is hot, add the shallots, fry until pale gold.
- Add the fresh peppers, fry until the edges are slightly crispy, then the garlic.
- Add La Bomba rice, stirring as you fry it.
- Remove the dried nyoras from the hot water, removing the seeds and stems but reserving the water which you will add to the stock.
- In a mortar and pestle, grind the saffron strands with the nyora peppers.
- Add this mixture with the white wine or sherry, to the paella pan. Stir into the rice.
- From this point on you stop stirring. Gradually add the stock bit by bit until it is all absorbed. You can put foil over the pan if you don't have a lid, so that the rice steams. Make sure it's on a low heat so that while a crust is formed on the bottom, it doesn't burn.
- Cook for 20 minutes until all the grains swell up. Make sure the stock is added to the edges of the pan, not just the middle.
- Add the almonds, olives, parsley.
- Serve with lemon wedges
OVERNIGHT RICE PUDDING RECIPE
- 2 litres full fat milk
- 100 g paella rice
- 100 g sugar
- 1 vanilla stick
- 1 cinnamon stick
- 1 orange zest
- 1 tbsp orange flower water
- Put all the ingredients into a lidded casserole and bung in the lowest Aga oven overnight. Remove in morning. Eat for breakfast or leave till later.
- If you don’t have an Aga, then put it in a low oven (140ºc) for approximately two hours or overnight at 100cº. You could also try it in a slow cooker.