Saturday evening was to include supper with a friend to plan our impending camping weekend with our small people. Luckily my friend is less haphazard than me and has a hardback book with check list – it includes everything you could want or not – even down to a tent peg extractor tool! This item on the list brought much hilarity, although I suspect that the copious amount of alcohol consumed added to this.
The celebratory feel of the evening was added to by Paella. Now I cannot pretend that this is authentic, in fact on a previous presentation of the dish to my Spanish friend she announced in her heavy Spanish accent, ‘I will teach you how to make a proper Paella’. So that was me told – however to date she hasn’t taught me; therefore short of perfection I bring you a paella I was taught to make by a Portuguese Woman. It’s easy to make, never fails to make people smile and more important than authenticity – it tastes wonderful.
I am not going to hinder you with quantities of ingredients as this depends on how many you are feeding and how big your paella pan is! I subscribe to the school of ‘never knowingly under cater’ so there is always some left to eat either Nigellaesque from the fridge in the middle of the night or if you haven’t got a red satin robe – you can reheat it the following day (although I wouldn’t eat any left over shellfish).
Put your pan on the heat and add a good slick of olive oil on quite a high flame; once the oil starts to smoke add pieces of chicken or rabbit (I prefer on the bone thighs and legs but I am sure you could use breast meat). Add some chopped pieces of belly pork and brown. It is important to ensure the meat is golden in colour on all sides. (Unfortunately this process spits quite a lot and makes one heck of a mess on your hob. Presumably this is why its often cooked outside on a wood fire!).
Add some sliced runner beans stir and let them soften. Lower the heat and make a well in the middle to which you add a couple of tablespoons of chopped tomato (the tomato needs to be almost minced). stir in the tomato and let it cook for a a few minute before adding pimento dulce and stir.
At this point pour in water (and heavily salt) until the water almost reaches the top of the pan, turn up the heat slightly and let it do its thing until the water evaporates to the point where you can just see the tops of the rivets that hold the handles in place. This takes long enough to enjoy a drink with your friends or to put a small person back to bed! Once the water has got to the right level taste the stock – it should be slightly salty as the rice will take up the salt. Pour a line of bomba rice across the pan it should be about 2 centimetres higher than the stock. Sprinkle saffron on the the line of rice and mix until it’s uniform. Cook on a high heat for 7 minutes until the rice starts to steam.
After the 7 minutes add your prawns; squid rings; shell fish (whatever you are using) to the top. Lower the heat to minimum and cook for a further 5 minutes. Add some fresh rosemary to the top and cook for another 5 minutes. Its at this point you need to check that most of the stock has been absorbed – if it has use the last five minutes on a low heat; if its still quite wet, turn the heat to medium for the last 5 minutes. (This should take 17 minutes in all).
Now leave the paella to rest for five minutes whilst you seat your friends. I am told that if some of the rice sticks to the bottom to form a crust – this is more than acceptable and is called ‘socorrat’ which sounds so much nicer than ‘the burnt bit!’. Add some lemon slices to the top and present majestically to your table to the delight; appreciation and awe of your friends!
A big ‘shout out’ to Tuckers Fish Stall at Swansea Market for their continuing supply of amazing fish and shell fish.