I’ve long had a soft spot for Spanish food. I think I first realised just how good it could be whilst I was at university. Not that I studied in Spain, I hasten to add! Though I did spend a few weeks of each year there on account of my course. I studied Geology and although many things can be done well in a lab or lecture theatre there are some things that need to be seen in person.
Spain makes for a great outdoor classroom on account of its (generally) good weather and variety of geological features. As a bonus all of the good bits of geology tend to be found well away from the tourist spots along the coasts. That means you get to see some spectacular landcapes and experience the country like a local. There’s no risk of sitting in the sunshine eating a “traditional” British Sunday Roast when you’re a couple of thousand metres up in the mountains.
As I said on my post for Paprika Chicken a lot of what I love about Spanish food is its relative simplicity. A few good, seasonal ingredients can make a rather wonderful dinner. After all, the traditional Paella Valenciana is little more than rice, chicken, rabbit, green beans and peppers – helped along the way by a bit of saffron and some pimentón.
For me Paella never tastes the same outside of Spain. No doubt a lot of that is due to the fact that you can’t always get exactly the same ingredients elsewhere. Especially not here in the UK. There are lots of shops that will sell good quality Calasparra rice and getting hold of decent smoked paprika is no longer a chore. But it’s getting everything right that’s not always possible. That’s why I’ve called this recipe “Not Quite Paella”.
It ticks a lot of the boxes and tastes great, but accepts that in a British kitchen you don’t always have the time or equipment to do a proper paella justice. It also has a few changes that, for me at least, are fair game in the name of making things a little easier.
There’s no rabbit for starters… I’m not squeamish about it and will happily eat rabbit when it’s on a menu. I just don’t think it’s something I’d spend time looking for in the shops. I’ve also used chicken breast fillets, rather than bone-in joints – mostly because I’d rather debone chicken before eating it than once it’s on my plate.
I’ve also cut back on the cooking time to some extent – with this being made in roughly the same time as a risotto. You can go from ingredients to dinner in little over half an hour if you avoid any distractions. (Well, if you’ll permit me to say that the 30 minutes or so for the chicken to marinate doesn’t count!).
For me this Not Quite Paella is the perfect antidote to the winter blues. If you’re looking for a little hit of sunshine in the depths of January then look no further than this recipe. It’s got all of the bright colours and warmth of Spain in one pan.
Of course, if this isn’t quite doing it for you then you could always book yourself a last-minute break and have the real thing in Spain. There are always some good deals on at this time of year!
Not Quite Paella
For the Chicken
- 2 Skinless Chicken Breast Fillets cut into 2cm pieces
- 1 tbsp Olive Oil
- 1 tsp Smoked Paprika pimentón
- ½ tsp Sea Salt
- ¼ tsp Freshly Ground Black Pepper
For the Rice
- 1 tbsp Olive Oil
- 50 g Chorizo finely chopped
- 1 medium Onion peeled and chopped
- 2 cloves Garlic peeled and crushed
- 150 g Paella Rice
- 4-5 strands Saffron
- 400 ml Good Quality Chicken Stock
- 2 Roasted Red Peppers from a Jar chopped
- 50 g Green Beans chopped
- Start by marinating the chicken. Put the chicken into a bowl, then pour over the olive oil, paprika, salt and pepper. Mix well, until the chicken is coated with the spices. Cover and pop into the fridge for 30 minutes or so.
- Heat the olive oil in a deep frying pan, then add the chorizo. Sauté for 10 minutes, until the chorizo has softened and released its bright paprika-rich oil.
- Add the onions to the pan and stir to coat in the flavoured oil. Cook for a further 5 minutes, then add the garlic and sauté for a further minute or so until fragrant.
- Pour in the rice and stir to coat in the onion mixture, then add the saffron and stir well.
- Pour in the chicken stock, then cover loosely. Bring to a simmer and cook for 20-25 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the liquid has been absorbed and the rice is tender. Add the chopped peppers and green beans to the pan after about 15 minutes.
- Whilst the rice is cooking, heat a second pan over a medium-high heat. Add the chicken and all of the marinade to the pan then fry, stirring frequently, until the chicken is cooked through. Cover and keep warm.
- Once the rice is cooked through and all of the liquid has been absorbed add the chicken to the pan and stir well.
- Serve immediately and enjoy.
|Estimated Values per Serving|
|of which Saturates||7||g|
|of which Sugars||8||g|
|Note: Nutritional information shown is per serving of the above recipe. Any side dishes or garnishes shown in photos are not included in these values, unless they are specifically listed as part of the recipe.|