Friday, July 29, 2022

An Accidental Paella – the case for the defence ...

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While poor Jamie Oliver attracted the wrath of a nation, I managed to get away with my version of "Pie-Ella". There are no mountains, there is no sea, there is not even a pinch of tradition, but ¡Dios mío! it tastes great!

The moment I hit “Publish”, the paella police were on their way over ...

The crime...
Taking a traditional celebration of the mountains and the sea, removing the tradition, the mountains and the sea, and turning it into mid-week WOW* supper.
*War on Waste

The plea... guilty, but unrepentant...
Your honour, I swear I had no idea what I was doing when I opened the fridge. I was day-dreaming about a trip I had to Majorca in the distant past. My personal rain cloud accompanied me, and how! The island suffered the worst storms and floods in decades - just for those couple of weeks I was on holiday. However, I remembered a plate of golden paella I ate there, shivering on a sheltered terrace watching a feeble sun battle in vain against storm clouds. It was utter comfort food.
Hi! Remember me!

Mitigating circumstances...
Perhaps that's why I turned away from the straight-and-narrow of my go-to creamy chicken curry for this quick and easy mid-week supper. This week’s budget doesn’t run to prawns and rabbit, but I am pretty sure that paella evolved from humble origins, making the most of available ingredients. Plus, one pan, and about 30 minutes - what's not to love?
One pot, 30 minutes - what's not to love!

The evidence...
Anyway, back to the fridge, which revealed the remains of a cooked chicken – yawn... However, the fridge also held a jar of pimentos del piquillo (sweet roasted red peppers – widely available) which can add sunshine to any dish, as well as a nub of chorizo left over from the Cornish-ish pasties last week and I found myself taking a detour. “I can resist everything - save temptation”, as one of my fellow countrymen put it so beautifully.

The witness for the defence
Your honour, I call my rice-hating beloved who shovelled three helpings into his mouth while sighing rapturously – ok so he’d missed lunch but even so! Perhaps I should offer some to the paella police or would that compound the crime with bribery? 

For 4 servings you will need...
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 onion, finely chopped
1 fat clove of garlic, crushed
50g chorizo, cut into fat slices then halved
2 large ripe tomatoes, cut into bite-sized pieces
4 pimentos del piquillo, roughly chopped
1 green pepper (or sweeter yellow pepper if you prefer), cut into strips
75g fresh or frozen petit pois, or sugar snap peas
400g cooked chicken, cut into bite-sized pieces
250g paella rice (from your deli – a great store cupboard standby)
600mls good quality chicken stock, hot
100mls dry white wine
½ teaspoon finely chopped fresh thyme
Freshly ground black pepper

1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh flat-leafed parsley 

1                    Heat the olive oil in a large frying pan over a medium heat. I used a 30cm (12 inch) pan for this recipe – in a paella you are aiming to get as much rice as possible in contact with the pan. Add the onion and cook until softened without colouring (about 5 minutes). Add the crushed garlic and the chorizo and cook for a further minute. Add the tomatoes, pimientos del piquillo, green pepper, peas, chicken and rice and stir together for about a minute.

2                    Now add the hot stock, dry white wine, thyme and pepper. Stir to mix and turn down the heat to a gentle simmer. Cook until all the stock has been absorbed by the rice, the rice is tender and the mixture is no longer soupy (about 20-25 minutes). Removed from the heat and cover with a clean tea-towel for about 5 minutes before sprinkling with the fresh parsley and serving on warm plates. The sign of a good paella – whether WOW* version or the traditional version – is the socarrat – the delicious golden crust of rice at the bottom of the pan – the bit that everyone fights over.

No mountains, no sea, no tradition, but rather tasty!

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  1. You could be my lawyer any day of the week! Looks lovely Hester. Hope summer is good on the East coast x

  2. Hester, laughed so much with you on this! I'm sure the paella police would be in line, waiting for a taste. A great WOW sunny supper indeed during the week, even with the rain pelting at the window.

  3. Delightful post, Hester. WOW indeed. The wonderful things that can be created on a whim, with a creative soul.

  4. Doesn't it feel good to open the fridge and create something from what's there instead of creating a shopping list, shopping and putting something together?

    I enjoy the latter, of course, but I get a buzz out of creating something new from what might otherwise get tossed out on rubbish day.

  5. I don't think this is a crime against paella--it really does go back to the origins of the dish. It looks and sounds wonderful. And I love the WOW acronym--will have to use that.

  6. Haha this post has to a highlight of the week :D
    I think you could bribe any traditional paella lover with this creation :D

    Choc Chip Uru

  7. You are so expressive and the way you have written this blog post is amazing...Love paella police!! The recipe shows how creative you are with your ingredients. Loved your Facebook link on this post as well!!

  8. You are so clever! What a way to really tell the story of a dish.
    I love clean out the pantry kinds of meals. They often turn out so well without me knowing that they will!

  9. This looks absolutely delicious! My kind of food and the photo's are amazing! : )

  10. Big smile on my face as I read this post and drooling at the same time looking at the paella.

    ~ ray ~

  11. hahaha...what a delightful post with lovely pictures!

  12. Paella police here. You need to send some over right away. I need it for evidence?

  13. i am sure it tastes great but really cool photography

  14. If this is what happens when you have a "lack" of concentration, that lack can be considered an asset.
    I really like this version because usually when it comes to paella it is a long list of ingredients, some of which I cannot get my hands on-namely fresh seafood. So the twist on the original suits me just fine. Enjoy the weekend Hester!

  15. I love it when you through everything together and it turn out great. The only “problem” then is that you can not remake it the same way cuz you’ll never accidentally have the same ingredients laying around. So it’s a good thing you blogged about it. I love any dish that can be made in 30 minutes =)

    Have a great weekend Hester…hope some more sunshine is coming your way!

  16. Exactly! What's not to love about this quick and comforting paella.

  17. Not guilty!!! All paella-related charges are to be dropped and you have the courts apologies (and lunch orders :-)

  18. Very creative way to tell a story and the dish looks delicious too. Congratulations on makingt he foodbuzz Top 9!

  19. Had me cracking up! I especially like the witness for the defense :)

    I think we should sue the paella police for wrongfully arrest!!!

  20. Love the post and I know I would really enjoy your paella. Innocent...except now I wish I had those ingredients in the back of my refrigerator.

  21. Paella was my mom's big entertaining dish when we were growing up...and how we loved it! And I'm head over heals with your weeknight version...full of all the same marvelous flavors! YUM.

  22. I've never tried this, but it looks yummy!!!

  23. Funny and clever - a great post!!

  24. Ah, yes, the paella police. I'm always looking over my shoulder in case I get busted for preferring basmati rice!

  25. I love your humor and it was fun reading this post, Hester!! I love Paella and cook this dish in 30 minuses is awesome! Wish we have this for our dinner table as I am always busy with the kids!

  26. Hester I have so much fun reading your blog. You have THE best sense of humor, not to mention the best food!

  27. you're hilarious! i've never actually had paella before...

  28. I love the way you structured this post! And I think the paella police are missing out. Sometimes it's the spirit of the dish that's the thing.

  29. LOL...Love your post! I guess we got all kinds of polices out there these day! Gotta be careful. But I bet this would bribe any police out there. ;) have a lovely weekend.


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