Spain is another of those countries where you are just spoiled for good produce. I can remember not so long ago I took trip to Barcelona where I was lucky enough to dine at Dos Cielos (www.doscielos.com). There, I tasted the most amazing 42 vegetable soup. Yes, that’s right, 42 vegetables! Each and every one sung their tune perfectly, harmonising in a spectacular broth.
Whilst in Barcelona I learned how to make Paella. A dish traditionally made from leftovers: chicken, seafood, artichoke, tomatoes, broccoli… it can really extend itself to anything you wish to include. The addition of Saffron brings the dish from a humble rice stew to a stunning display of fresh produce and the fact that cheaper cuts of meat are used more than makes up for the cost of the Saffron.
My recipe for Paella, inspired by that trip to Barcelona is in the traditional Valencian style.
Recipe: Valencian Paella (serves 4)
500g chicken thigh meat (off the bone)
1 artichoke (cleaned and roughly diced)
1 red capsicum (de-seeded and diced)
3 cloves of garlic (peeled and crushed)
1 vine ripened tomato (peeled and diced finely)
6 tbs olive oil
400g arborio rice
1 lt chicken stock
6 threads saffron
1c fresh peas
Broccoli (washed and diced)
Note: For best results cook in a paella pan. A good alternative is any wide based saucepan.
Firstly, heat the olive oil and brown the chicken and chorizo. Arrange the meat around the edge of the paella pan. To this, add tomato, garlic and cook gently. When the tomato is almost cooked stir in the artichoke, capsicum and broccoli. As the tomato starts to stick to the bottom of the pan add the rice in an even layer along the bottom of the pan. Allow the rice to fry for 2 minutes before you add the stock and saffron. Throw in your fresh peas (yum!). The rice should not be stirred from this point.
Cook for 8 minutes or so on medium high. If you feel the need, swirl the pan to distribute the head evenly (I can never resist the need to stir in some form or another). Reduce the heat to medium low until the rice is cooked.