Here is my first recipe from the currently rather chilly and wet Spain! I tend to visit Andalucia a few times a year as Adam’s parents’ have a finca in the Competa area, an hour north-east of Malaga. Normally when we come I am spoiled with a kitchen that I am familiar with and a cupboard well stocked with essentials, as well as the fact that I know where I can get all the ingredients that I need because we’re frequent visitors.
This time however just me, bump and toddler are visiting my own parents, who are taking a few months out to have a working holiday. That means we are staying in a (beautiful) rented finca in a different region, near Periana which is 45 minutes north of Malaga. Thus, currently when cooking I am trying to cobble together dishes with limited equipment and in an unfamiliar kitchen. Oh well, a bad workwoman blames her tools and all that… Anyway, it’s kind of fun working out what to eat for dinner each day under more challenging circumstances.
As my folks had some chicken in already, for my first shopping jaunt into the local town, I decided to keep it simple and aim to search out peppers and a chorizo, thinking I could easily knock up a paella with these. (We only just made it to the shop before siesta time at 2pm, so even this much was an achievement!) Of course, I erroneously assumed there would be a paella pan at the finca – everybody cooks paella when they’re on holiday in Spain don’t they? ; ) Without a trusty paella pan, I made the best of it by cooking my ‘sofrito’ (normally tomatoes, onions and garlic – but this time peppers replaced the tommies – cooked in lots of olive oil, the basis of a good paella and many other dishes) in a small and cheap frying pan, and the paella itself in a large pot. Hence I am not naming this dish ‘Paella with chicken…’ but simply ‘Rice with chicken…’ in the name of pedantic authenticity! If you do have a paella pan to hand then it would of course be preferable to use that – and you can therefore justifiably call it a paella. Although at least this goes to show that you can still create a satisfying and wholesome dish even with bog standard pots and pans.
Serves 4-6 people:
2 or 3 chicken breasts / 4 chicken thighs, boned and skinned, chopped into bite sized pieces
2 small chorizo sausages or 1 big one, cut into bite sized chunks
1 onion, diced
2 small green peppers, diced
1 large red pepper, diced
5 cloves of garlic, crushed
1 pint of chicken stock, we used a cube but obviously a home made one is always preferable
400 g paella rice
1 teaspoon of smoked paprika
1 glass of white wine or vermouth
Bunch of fresh parsley
1 or 2 lemons
Lots of extra virgin olive oil
- First make your sofrito. Heat a very generous amount of olive oil in a frying pan over a medium heat and add your onions. Fry on a low – medium heat for about 15 minutes. Add your peppers and fry for another 15 minutes. Then add your garlic and fry for a further 15 minutes. You don’t want to colour your sofrito, but soften all the ingredients so they are well cooked. 5 minutes before the end, add your smoked paprika so it can cook out a little.
- Meanwhile slowly fry off your chorizo over a low heat to release the oils for about 15 minutes or so, again not colouring it too much.
- Add your chicken pieces and part cook for about 10 minutes. Set aside. If you had a paella pan then it’s ideal if you use the same pan for the sofrito and then the meats, so all the lovely flavours can mingle, but obviously this takes longer.
- When your meats are part cooked and your sofrito is made, it’s time to start on your rice. Heat some more oil and then add your rice, throwing in a glass of wine and letting some of the liquid cook off before adding your sofrito and your meats to the pan. Stir and cover with hot stock so the liquid just covers the rice, and leave with a lid on to cook over a low heat until most of the liquid has absorbed. Be careful not too add too much stock, you can always add some boiling water later if it’s needed. Shake the pan a little and even move it around half way through cooking if you feel it’s sticking. This will take around 35 – 45 minutes on a lowish heat.
- Taste the rice when it looks like it’s almost cooked; it should have a little bit of bite left in it. Squeeze in lemon to taste, and lots of fresh chopped flat leaf parsley, season, taste again and adjust as you see fit. It’s OK to stir around a little but try not to do it too much. We had it with an avocado, lettuce and pine nut salad, plus some pan con tomate (toasted bread rubbed with garlic and spread with a mixture of grated tomato, olive oil and salt).
>> Check out more rice recipes!