Cooking Experiences

Bringing sunny Spain to rainy England: Cooking Keith Floyd’s paella

Caroline loves a paella and just because she’s not in Spain doesn’t mean she has to be denied her favourite dish…

There are all sorts of paella, some containing just fish and shellfish, some with chicken, some with pork and one from Mallorca with snails and rabbit. However, the one that we come back to time and time again (and as a family we are big on paella!) is from the Floyd on Spain cookbook.

It is a Valencian paella and like the Mallorcan one contains snails. With some of the family not being too keen on snails we substitute prawns! As Floyd himself says “On the bottom line you can put in anything you like”. What you shouldn’t cheat with though is the saffron which gives the paella that distinctive flavour. Yes, it’s expensive but using turmeric may give you the right colour but it won’t give you the authentic taste.

Paella takes its name from the pan in which it is cooked and we have several, including one that is big enough for 16 to 20 servings! One of our favourite beachside restaurants for a paella (Moreno’s in Nerja) uses one that must be a good six feet in diameter! For a paella that serves six you will need a pan of at least 24 inches diameter.

To make my version of Floyd’s paella for six you will need:

12 to 18 chicken thighs or drumsticks (rabbit can be substituted or a mixture of the two)
A large chorizo
12 large cooked prawns
6 tablespoons olive oil
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
6 oz peas
4 large vine ripened tomatoes, skinned and chopped
1 tbsp paprika
1 lb paella rice
A few strands of saffron
2 pints chicken stock (if you don’t want to make your own buy some fresh stock from the supermarket and use this in combination with stock made from a cube)
2 lemons for garnish

Floyd also uses beans (either green, broad or white haricot) which as a non bean lover I choose to omit. My husband does, however, swear by the white haricot beans to add a certain something to the dish!

Here’s what to do:

Season the chicken with salt and pepper.
Sauté the chicken in olive oil for 15 mins.
Add the garlic, peas and tomatoes.
Add the paprika, rice, saffron and stock and bring to the boil.
Add the chopped chorizo.
Cook gently for 30 mins until the rice is cooked and the stock absorbed.
Take the pan off the heat, add the prawns on top to decorate and cover with foil for 5 mins.
Garnish with lemon wedges.

It can get messy cooking a paella – all that spitting olive oil and brightly coloured bubbling stock – so if it’s a nice day why not bring a touch of Spain to your garden and cook it on the barbecue?


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