Mrs. Jackson Cooks

Life through food

Fridge use-up Paella

on October 28, 2010

Today it was a case of figuring out what to do with what was in my fridge, so I made Paella.  I had peppers, prawns, chorizo, sweetcorn – it all made sense and we hadn’t eaten Paella in a while and I was feeling like rice but not Indian.

I used to be terrified of Paella.  It all seemed so complicated.  Like risotto.  Risotto isn’t complicated either.  It’s just chefs making it sound complicated and scaring you.  If you don’t do this, or you must do that.  Don’t listen to them, you can do it, it’s just rice.   And to be honest, I’m never sure what ‘al dente’ tastes like.  You kind of get that taste where it sticks in your teeth – which sounds like it should be ‘al dente’ which if that’s the case then to be honest I’m not a fan.  But I will tell you how I like my rice – it’s when it goes clear.  You watch as the opaqueness shrinks to a tiny blob in the middle and when that’s gone, it’s done (well for me anyway).  If you want it sticking in your teeth maybe you want to take it out when it’s got the tiny opaque blob in the middle left.

You can make Paella with just about any kind of meat.  I’ve not really come across a beef one, but I’m sure it’s been done.  But chicken (diced, legs), pork, sausages, chorizo, any kind of seafood or fish – you can shove it all in.  Which makes it great for fridge use ups.  Plus to be honest you can put most vegetables in.  Peppers are nice as are peas, and onions are a staple; but tomatoes, carrots, mushrooms, sweetcorn, artichokes, corgettes, olives – they’ll all go in too.  The Spanish aren’t particularly vegetarian friendly, I’m not sure what you’d put in to make up any protein content – tofu doesn’t really seem to cut it!  Vege sausages maybe.

This is a recipe I’ve developed over a few years.  The original one came off the side of a carton of Paella rice but it’s not the same recipe anymore.  I use less meat and rice than the packet suggests as I always found there was too much.  As it was even with reduced amounts, there were leftovers tonight.  As a rule of thumb, in general when cooking, I tend to do about 100g of meat per person and about 75g of complex carb such as rice, pasta, potatoes.  This recipe uses 100g rice per person – but as I just said, I ended up with leftovers.

Use-up Paella

Serves 4

2 tbsp oil (I used chilli oil this time to give it a bit of a kick)

400g of assorted meat – this time I used chorizo and prawns, but you could include diced chicken or squid rings just as easily and include them all – the more the merrier.

1 large spanish onion (aka white mild ones, or any old white onion will do)

3 garlic cloves finely chopped

2 peppers of different colours (for interest only), finely chopped

Any other vegetables you’d like to throw in (I put in a few leftover artichoke hearts that were in a jar this time)

400g Paella rice

1 litre chicken or vegetable stock, heated (check against Paella rice packet as amounts can vary)

1 tsp paprika

a good pinch of saffron (if you’ve got it, if not don’t worry)

salt & pepper

100g frozen peas defrosted

100g tinned sweetcorn, drained

handful of chopped fresh parsley

lemon slices

  1. If using meat such as chorizo or chicken, heat the oil in a large heavy pan (I use my wok normally – I use my wok for everything! but a large saucepan or high sided frying pan is good too) and fry the chorizo until it’s juices run and it turns golden.  If using chicken or pork or fish fry until browned on all sides.  Remove from pan with a slotted spoon (before I got one of these I was so worried about recipes that included them – if you don’t have one fish them out with a normal spoon and try to drain off as much oil as possible or use tongs/chopsticks)
  2. Return the pan to the heat with the chorizo-spiced oil in it and add the onion and gently soften on a low heat.  Then add the garlic and fry for a further 2 minutes.
  3. Add the other raw vegetables such as the peppers, carrots, mushrooms, etc.  Fry for a few minutes until they start to soften.
  4. Add the Paella rice to the pan and stir fry for a few minutes until the grains turn opaque.
  5. Dissolve the saffron (if using) in a small amount of hot water.  Add the stock to the pan along with the saffron water and the paprika.  Add salt and pepper.  If you wanted here, you could be a bit risotto-ish and add a glass of white wine first, let it bubble for a bit and reduce before adding the stock and saffron.
  6. Bring the pan up to boiling, then cover and simmer until the rice is cooked and the water is absorbed.  It wants to be moist.  Not runny and not dry, but a bit of moistness.  Add extra water to the pan during the process if it needs it.  It normally takes about 20 minutes.
  7. About 5 minutes before its finished add any seafood, peas, sweetcorn and any pre-cooked veges.
  8. Just before serving stir through the parsley.
  9. Pile onto plates and enjoy with a slice of lemon!
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