Welcome to my new dot com! Not totally as I’d like it yet, but at last I’m posting here as opposed to back at ‘Blogger’. I’m also aware that the Blogger posts I imported over to this site won’t appear as they should (especially the photo’s which will be oddly smaller and not aligned properly). More on that another time.. let’s get straight onto the cooking-talk! It was a big foodie week last week. I travelled (an hour or so) for my supper on Friday and ate a set-menu dinner with a friend at a Japanese restaurant in Ballarat. I also got to take home some Norwegian ‘Voss’ water, which I later noticed was sparkling (and I prefer still). It wasn’t a total loss because I used it to make some amazing lemonade simply using fresh lemon juice and caster sugar. So pure, so refreshing and thirst-quenching.
The following day (Saturday) I attended a local food festival, being the Geelong Food & Wine Show. I actually didn’t have plans to attend, but then we won tickets not only for general entry, but also to Adriano Zumbo’s masterclass. So off we went! And we were disappointed. I plan to do a quickie review of our experience, along with a review of ‘Kambei’ the Japanese restaurant I was talking about. I might have already had those posts up except I’ve been working hard trying to get this dot com happening. Blogger has its negatives (like Google owning all of my content & having the power to block me from my own blog, which it has more than once) but for me, it’s far more user-friendly as far as customising things go. I self-host here now with a WordPress theme & it’s taken me many months to even get this far! It’s been a long work in progress for this non-techie! But I digress.
At the Geelong Food & Wine Show I chose paella as my intended lunch. When I first asked for it, I was told it wasn’t ready. So I went to the Zumbo masterclass knowing that the paella would be ‘just done’ by the time I got out. Well, Adriano was late starting and late finishing. The class was forced to end we were running so over time & there was no finished dish. Not even half way finished. So I was going to cheer myself up with paella. I queued up for some golden goodness flecked with mussels and other treasures of the sea.. only to be told they’d ran out. I think the person in front of me got the last bowl full. I couldn’t believe it. My only other choice for food was some gourmet sausages and I did stand in the 10-deep queue for about 30 seconds, only to change my mind. Everything had been *totally bleh* at the show up until that point.. so not getting any paella was the welcome mat I needed (which pointed towards the exit door). Trouble was, I couldn’t get paella off my mind!
I went to the supermarket and decided I’d make paella for dinner! I don’t have a paella pan (or a gas flame), but I figured I’d improvise. Most of the paella recipes I have look marvellous on paper but if you scan the ingredient lists and do the math in your head, it’s not a cheap dish to make. Gwyneth Paltrow’s Spanish Mama Paella recipe requires multiple lobsters for starters..and ‘Bomba’ rice. Whenever I’ve found this rice in little out-of-town nook’s.. it’s always too expensive and/or past its expiration date. Same goes for Calasparra rice. If it were the only pricey component of the dish, I may have bought some yonks ago. But in a nutshell it always felt like I needed to spend at least $50 on ingredients (or closer to $100 for Gwynnies version).
I hit Coles (in true MKR style) and decided I’d make a budget paella with no compromise on flavour or appearance. A little chorizo, a little chicken and a bag of fresh mussels from the deli (for around $7). I wouldn’t aim for a traditional crust on the bottom of my paella and I’d cook the mussels seperately and just stab them into the finished dish at the end like a garnish. Or so I planned. When it came time to use the mussels I couldn’t find them anywhere. Lets just say they were never put in the fridge and spent 4 hours at room temperature. Oh it upset me! My paella photo’s were supposed to look the ‘real deal’ with mussels standing to attention like surfboards wedged into beach sand.
It had been a big day and I wasn’t about to get in the car and get more mussels, as lazy as that sounds (there was no other driver at home at the time). I wasn’t going to spend more money on ingredients and I wasn’t going to change my recipe of the week either. This week marks the three year anniversary of the foodie segment on radio (96three FM). I thought it would be ideal to try and get this dot com finally happening THIS week as opposed to any other time. I knew I had many hours of work to do in addition to the recipe, so basically, my paella, sans seafood was born.
If you don’t like shellfish, then this is your recipe. If you’re sad that mussels aren’t included then by all means, add the mussels. Cook them in a separate pot with a little chicken stock, white wine, cream, fresh dill and parsley and when they’re opened and cooked, stab them into the finished dish later and pour over some of the mussel liquor. Olé!
Chicken & Chorizo Paella
*Arborio Rice x 1.5 cups
*Chorizo sausages x 2 (I prefer Coles deli chorizo to Woolworths)
*Onion x 1 large, chopped
*Red capsicum x 1 small, chopped
*Jar roasted peppers (capsicums) red x 3/4 cup, chopped
*Chicken drumsticks x 2 large
*Water x 2 litres (+ some extra)
*Sweet paprika x 1.5 teaspoons
*Smoked paprika x 1 teaspoon
*Chicken stock powder x 1 tablespoon
*Garlic cloves, fresh x 2 or 3 teaspoon’s, finely chopped (depending on how garlicky you like it, I used 3 and thought 2 would have been better.. Jamie Oliver uses 5)
*Saffron threads x 1 good pinch
*Flat leaf parsley x 1/2 a bunch, stems and leaves chopped separately and set aside (stems get cooked first, the leaves come in later)
*Lemon x 1, cut into quarters
*Optional (extra cooked chicken thrown in, whether it’s from a bbq deli chicken or leftovers or a couple of chopped up raw tenderloins)
-In a pot, boil chicken drumsticks in water with chicken stock powder until meat is almost falling off the bone and the liquid has reduced (about 20 minutes). Half way through, add half of paprika and all of the saffron threads.
-In a large, deep frying pan or wok or paella pan, fry together chopped chorizo, onion and fresh red capsicum + chopped parsley stems until softened and chorizo has crispy edges.
-Add rice to pan, stir and coat well and fry for 3 minutes, then add remaining paprika (both kinds), chopped jar capsicums/peppers & garlic, stir and fry off another minute.
-Add contents of stock/chicken pot into the rice + extra water (you’ll need about two litres in total, some will have evaporated) and also half of the chopped parsley leaves. The rice will cook in the stock with the other ingredients including the chicken on the bone, for added flavour. Stir occasionally to make sure the rice is cooked evenly and nothing sticks to the bottom (I know this isn’t an authentic method).
-Once the rice is cooked (taste it), remove chicken bones, take off chicken with a fork (if it hasn’t fallen off already) and chop-up if some pieces are a bit big. Add extra cooked chicken if you want more chicken. Turn off heat, taste rice. It may need a sprinkling of salt (or do what I do and add a quick splash of soy sauce which adds some extra savouriness if I feel it’s missing). You want the rice to have absorbed all of the liquid without it being soggy or dry.
-Give the paella a good stir, add lemon wedges and sprinkle over the remaining fresh parsley. If you’re adding cooked mussels, stab them in at the end and serve immediately.