I'm a little bit in love with chorizo. No, sorry, scratch that - I'm a lotta bit in love with chorizo. I have easy access to a fabulous Spanish food shop (Brindisa - if you ever have the chance to go there, go and spend your money), and I come home with their fresh chorizo more often than doctors would probably advise. But it is Just. So. Delicious. The only difficulty I have with chorizo is figuring out what not to add it to (other than my mouth).
I have become a bit of an expert at rattling off paella recipes after putting together the paella kit I auctioned for Chez Pim's Menu for Hope. Paellas are excellent all-in-one meals that are expandable enough to welcome in any number of ingredients as long as you get the basics correct: lightly fry up onions, garlic, and any other items that needed softening or cooking; prepare some good stock with saffron soaking in it; add some paprika and rice to the fried things and let it all cook in the stock without disturbing anything until the cooking is done. Some of my favorite sounding paella recipes are from Sam and Sam Clarke at Moro; their rabbit paella with rosemary and almonds tempts me mightily.
We decided to make this paella with some of the cherished chorizo, as well as mussels, prawns, and peas. Mr A&N tried to make the dish together but that's not without its hiccups - Mr A&N sees recipes as more of a suggestion than a direction whereas if I've decided to stick with the recipes rules for the evening, I would rather stick with it. There were a few silences (mine) and suggestions that maybe he should leave the kitchen (his) but we got there in the end with no ill effects to the dish. Which was a good thing, because if anything bad had happened to that chorizo I would have really lost it.
Chorizo, Mussel, and Prawn Paella
- 1 bag fresh mussels
- 250 g / 1/2 lb cooked prawns, preferable still in their shells
- 1 litre chicken stock
- a small pinch of saffron (about 20 strands)
- 6 Tbs olive oil
- 250 g / 1/2 lb good quality fresh chorizo, cut into bite-sized chunks
- 1 ½ large Spanish onion, finely chopped
- 1 green pepper, halved, seeded, and finely chopped
- 4 garlic cloves, finely chopped
- 2 dried noras peppers (seeds and stalks removed, broken into small pieces and covered with boiling water) or 1 tsp sweet paprika
- 250g calasparra (paella) rice
- 75ml white wine
- 150g frozen peas
- sea salt and black pepper
- chopped flat-leaf parsley
- lemon wedges
- Peel the prawns and put into the fridge until ready to use.
- Add the prawn shells to a large saucepan, cover with the chicken stock, and simmer gently for 15 minutes so the shells can infuse the stock.
- Remove from heat, remove the shells, add the saffron, and set aside.
- Clean the mussels of any beards or barnacles, discarding any that aren't closed or don't close immediately after tapping them.
- Boil about 1/2 liter of water (or however much is needed to cover the mussels) and add the mussels once boiling.
- Cook for about 3 minutes.
- Remove the mussels, discarding any that aren't closed and removing the meat from most of the mussels (leave a few in their shells for decoration). Add a few ladle-fuls of the cooking liquid to the stock and set aside.
- Heat 2 Tbs olive oil in a 30-40 cm paella dish or frying pan using a medium to high heat
- When oil is just beginning to smoke, add the chorizo pieces and stir fry for 3 minutes. The chorizo should be mostly cooked through.
- Remove the sausage (using a slotted spook) and put aside.
- Add the rest of the olive oil to the pan and when it is hot, add the onion and pepper. Cook for 5 minutes, then lower heat to medium and cook for a further 10-15, stirring occasionally.
- Add the chopped garlic and noras peppers/paprika and cook for a further 5 minutes or until the onion and garlic are slightly colored and sweet.
- Add the rice and stir for 1 minute in order to coat it in both the vegetables and oil.
- (Up to this point everything can be cooked in advance. The next stage should be started about 20 minutes before you would like to eat).
- Bring the stock to the boil. Once boiled, remove and keep aside.
- Place the paella pan with rice and vegetables over a medium-high heat and add the wine, followed by the hot stock, and season with salt and pepper. DO NOT stir the rice after this point.
- Simmer gently for 10 minutes or until there is just a little liquid above the rice.
- Spread the chorizo pieces and peas out over the rice and push down gently so the pieces go under the stock.
- Gently shake the pan to prevent sticking and turn the heat to low.
- Cook for 5 more minutes or until there is just a little liquid left at the bottom of the rice.
- Sprinkle the mussels and prawns on top, turn off the heat, and cover the pan lightly with a tea towel or foil. Let sit for 3-5 minutes.
- Remove the cover and scatter the chopped parsley over the top.
- Serve with a wedge of lemon on the side.