I love seafood and I love chorizo sausages so why it took me so long to make a paella is a bit of a mystery. My sister moved to Valencia in Spain last year and when my parents returned from visiting her last Christmas they brought back a paella pan and some rice. I had no excuse for not learning how to do it so I started looking for recipes on the internet- a few weeks later I stumbled across one in Donna Hay magazine that looked good but was really more of a risotto than a paella. I am no expert on paella but I believe that one of the important things about it is that it should not be stirred while it is cooking on the stove. It should be left to simmer and the bottom sticks to the pan a little bit. This recipe not only instructed you to stir whilst cooking but also to make it in a saucepan rather than a paella dish.
So I did a little bit of a spin on the recipe using the same ingredients but adapting it to fit my idea of what a paella was. It still isn’t an authentic paella (hence the title of this post) but I really like it. The good thing about it is that it doesn’t really take long to make and then you can just leave it on the stove, bubbling away, while you go and do something else. It is even better in the summer when tomatoes are in season and you don’t want to stand at the hot stove stirring. For a rice-based dish it isn’t too heavy, I usually make a green salad with rocket, tomatoes and/or avocado and a light dressing to serve alongside.
Pretend Prawn Paella
(adapted from Donna Hay magazine issue 30, Dec 06/Jan07)
Approx. 1L Chicken stock
2 tblsp olive oil
1 onion, finely sliced
2 cloves garlic, grated or minced
1 large red chilli, finely sliced
200 g chorizo sausage (about 2 med sized sausages), peeled and sliced
1 cup arborio or similar short-grained rice
2 fresh tomatoes, chopped
2 tblsp tomato paste
3/4 cup white wine
handful of prawn meat (tails on or off, whatever you like)
sea salt and black pepper
handful of flat-leaved parsley
2 lemons, cut into wedges
Heat the oil in a paella pan (or frying pan) over med heat. Add onion, garlic, chilli and chorizo and cook until golden. Stir in the rice, tomatoes, tomato paste, wine and cook for a couple of minutes then add the stock so that it comes to the brim of the paella pan (or about 2 cm above the rice if you are using a normal frying pan). Don’t stir it, just bring it to the boil before turning the heat down low. Leave it in the pan for approx 15 minutes or until the rice has soaked up almost all of the stock. Check the rice to make sure that it is almost done- if it is a little bit too crunchy, add some more stock and wait another 5 minutes or so until the same point is reached. Tuck the prawns gently into the rice and cook another 5-10 minutes or until the prawns are cooked and there is no residual stock. Sprinkle with parsley and squeeze one of the lemons over the pan. Serve with lemon wedges on the side and with a salad.