I don’t work on Mondays. Being a chef generally means weekend work. The upshot of this is that I get to do what I like on Monday mornings and what I normally like to do is go to the coast. Take my surf ski and try for a wave or two at Caloundra. It’s the best me time ever, for 3 or 4 hours nothing else can bother me.
On the way home today I called in to see Dad. Dad and I (and my whole family) love prawns so I went to the co-op and found some really fresh looking endeavour and tiger prawns for lunch. I bought Dad some beer too but don’t tell Mum. These prawns looked really good and were a reasonable price so I grabbed an extra handful to make some dinner with Kid. I don’t mind having prawns twice in one day.
Paella! Well, ish. I’m using brown rice (because that’s what I’ve got) and taking a few other liberties with it, but essentially paella. One day I’ll own a proper (perol) pan and gas burner but for now it’s the fry pan and an electric cook top.
1 cup brown rice – cooked in lightly salted water
2 chorizo sausages – semi cured or raw is best. Chop them into bite size pieces.
1 cup (or as many as you like, or leave them out) cooked and peeled prawns-tail left on for presentation.
1 cup chicken stock
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 Spanish onion – peeled and diced
6 cloves of garlic – crushed.
1 small bulb fennel
5 medium cooking tomatoes – my local veg shop normally has little packs of these done up at a good price. Roast, peel and dice.
1 large red capsicum- roasted , peeled and diced.
2 sticks celery- diced or sliced
2.5 grams saffron -you don’t need to weigh it -supermarkets sell 5gram packets -use about half.
2 teaspoons smoked paprika – buy the good Spanish brand and you’ll be well rewarded.
Chopped parsley, Spanish green olives and raw almonds are a great way to finish the dish but totally optional.
Heat a solid based fry pan ( or one of those square electric numbers will do fine) and add the chorizo. Cook it until brown all over , remove from the pan leaving any oil behind.
Add olive oil and sweat the onion, celery, fennel and garlic until soft. Add the spices and cook until aromatic. Now the tomatoes and capsicums.
Let these simmer gently until most of the moisture has gone. You have just made a very basic soffrito. Well done you. Now put in the stock, chorizo and rice. Turn up the heat a little and simmer again until the moisture has evaporated, some small holes should appear on top. Turn off the heat. Arrange the prawns over the top and cover with a tea towel or lid and let rest for 20 mins. Scatter chopped olives, parsley and almonds over the top and serve with a light crispy salad.
What Kid Did.– Kid peeled the prawns for me. She learnt to do this at my parents house where we grew up being spoilt with prawns. We would have a bowl of prawns in the middle of the table and you could only eat them as fast as you could peel them otherwise you missed out. She has learnt well.
There was parsley to wash and pick, olives to pip and a roast capsicum to peel ( actually the capsicum was still a little hot so I did most of that whilst she watched.) She un packed the groceries after shopping, took out the recycling, set the table, got water for us and rinsed the plates after dinner.
Arranging the prawns on top of the paella was the most fun part.
The Wash Up
I have to confess here, I tried making this by using raw rice instead of pre-cooking. It turned out fine but took forever because of the brown rice. Pre-cooking the rice will save you this problem. You could even be cooking it whilst you start everything else.
You could use green/raw prawns, add them when you add the stock and they should cook in time. Prawns are totally optional by the way, I just really wanted to use these beautiful ones in something. Serious paella has a crust on the bottom called the soccarat which just isn’t going to happen using brown rice. That’s probably a discussion for another post.
It’s important to let the paella stand for 20 mins or so. This will warm the prawns through and allow the rice to absorb any excess moisture.