This entry from The Trifle Bowl & Other Tales is all about the paella pan. Earlier this year we went camping at Wowo, a firm favourite family-friendly campsite in Sussex. On the Friday night we made arrangements with a paella man, who delivered an enormous paella for our group. It certainly kicked off the camping weekend and it was actually kind of nice to have a night off working the campfire. Once we got the tents up, beds made, lanterns hung and kids sorted, we could really relax. Ever since, I’ve been yearning for a paella pan of my own to position over the campfire. It’s a great way to feed your camping buddies, and everyone can take turns with the stirring. This is a delicious recipe from Lindsey Bareham and one that can happily be transferred to a campfire. Just put the peppers over the flames to blacken rather than in the oven. It’s probably quicker anyway…. I imagine making this at a campsite near the sea where fresh seafood can be bought from the fisherman himself.
“Pretty much anything goes in the name of paella, but the favourite combination in my household is spicy chorizo with mildly flavoured, creamy and meaty monkfish or tender (and blessedly inexpensive) squid, with a few prawns to finish,” says Bareham. “A good tip from food photographer Jason Lowe – who cooked three paellas, each for fifty, for his wedding feast – is to cover the paella with spinach for its 10-minute (covered) rest before serving, then stir it into the paella with a pesto-style paste made with flat-leaf parsley, garlic, saffron and a slick of olive oil. This optional extra gives the paella a burst of vitality, livening up the look as well as the flavour of the dish.”
Here’s the what:
1 large Spanish onion or 400g tin of Eazy onions
4 large garlic cloves, preferably new season
150g Iberico chorizo
2 pointed red peppers
4 tbsp olive oil
1 large beef tomato or 5 plum tomatoes
2 very generous pinches of saffron threads, softened in 1 tbsp hot water
1kg monkfish tail fillet or 500g
monkfish tail and 500g small prepared squid
350g Bomba, Calasparra or Arborio
1 litre fish stock, light chicken stock or water
8 large shell-on raw prawns or 12 medium-sized ones
350g young spinach
2 large lemons
For the parsley paste:
60g bunch flat-leaf parsley
4 garlic cloves
2 generous pinches of saffron
threads, softened in 4 tbsp hot
3 tbsp olive oil
Heat the oven to 200°C/gas mark 6. Keeping separate piles, peel, halve and finely chop the onion and garlic. Sprinkle the garlic with ½ teaspoon of salt and use the flat of a small knife to crush it to a paste. Run a knife down the chorizo and peel away the skin. Slice chunkily. Arrange the peppers on a roasting tin and bake for 10 minutes, then turn and repeat. Remove to a plate, cover with clingfilm, leave for 10 minutes, then remove the skin. Halve lengthways, scrape away the seeds and chop.
Heat the oil in a 35cm diameter paella pan or in two large frying pans placed over a medium heat. Stir in the onion and garlic and cook for 3–4 minutes before adding the chorizo. Cook for a further couple of minutes to release some of the fat and flavour from the chorizo. Pour boiling water over the tomato. Count to 20, drain and remove the skin. Chop the tomato. Add the peppers to the onion. Stir well, then add the tomato and saffron. Leave to cook while you remove any trace of the slimy membrane covering the monkfish and chop it into kebab-size pieces. If using squid, remove the tentacles from inside the sac and quarter the sac lengthways.
Stir the seafood into the onion mixture. Increase the heat slightly and cook for 5 minutes to seal the fish. Season with salt and pepper. Stir in the unwashed rice and cook for a couple of minutes while you heat up the stock. Stir the stock into the pan, return to boiling then reduce the heat to a steady simmer. Cook for 20 minutes or until all the liquid has been absorbed into the rice and the grains are swollen and tender. If necessary, fold the food together rather than stir it, encouraging the paella to cook evenly. Push the prawns into the rice, and when they turn pink, cover the entire paella with the spinach leaves.
Cover with foil and punch a few steam holes. Weight the foil with folded newspapers and leave for at least 10 minutes. To make the parsley paste, blitz the parsley leaves, peeled garlic, saffron liquid and olive oil, adding extra water if too stiff. To serve, fold the wilted spinach and parsley paste into the rice. Serve the paella from the pan, with lemon wedges.