Many, many years ago, I went on holiday with best mate Kate and her parents to Spain.  It was in those heady single days when the most important factor on holiday was to get a good tan.  Very little else mattered much although eating well probably came a close second.  Funny how these two things would be entirely the other way round to me now.  I remember it as a happy, sunny lazy holiday and feeling a million miles away from London and work.  One evening we went out for supper along dark winding roads, occasionally encountering that often slightly crazy driving adopted by the locals until finally we came to what was little more than a shack on the sand – we had arrived at Fred the Beach.  We were invited into the kitchen, we studied the specials but there was only one thing to order, one very special reason for the trek to Fred’s – the paella.  It was sensational – proper, authentic, truly delicious paella.

Quite something to live up to then.  Fortunately I can’t remember the precise ingredients so recreating it exactly is not an issue, only that I loved every mouthful.  Paella is a regular with us and goes down very well.  We had a family over for lunch recently and when one of the little girls saw the paella on the table she announced she would not be eating it, only to have three helpings.

Whilst it may not seem the obvious choice for January, as I am not going to cook it outside over wood but inside on the hob, the weather and season make no difference. It is a superb one pot number full of thoroughly yummy things and perfect for a weekend lunch.

I have it in my head, erroneously or not, that paella is either inland or coastal, that is based on the ingredients found in either location.  Prawns, mussels, squid for the beach version and chicken, rabbit, snails for the inland.  The recipe that follows, I am afraid with total lack of regard for authenticity, marries the two containing as it does both chicken and prawns.  As I said, I am not recreating Fred’s masterpiece, just making something we all like to eat.


100g chorizo diced

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 onion, chopped

1 yellow or orange pepper, chopped

2 cloves garlic, finely chopped

1 heaped teaspoon paprika

400g chicken thigh, skinless boneless and cut into small pieces (or rabbit)

250g bomba (paella) rice

150ml white wine

1 litre chicken stock

Pinch of saffron

150g green beans, topped and halved

200g prawns, defrosted if frozen

Parsley, a good handful chopped

In a large frying pan or paella pan saute the chorizo, add the olive oil and the chopped onion and pepper and cook until soft.  Add the garlic, paprika rice and chicken and stir to mix it all together.  Make the stock so that it is very hot and add the pinch of saffron to it.  Now add the wine and the stock, put the beans on top and push them down slightly under the surface.  Leave to cook for 20 minutes without stirring until all the liquid has been absorbed and the rice is cooked.  Add a bit more stock or water if it seems to need it.  Put the prawns on top and again, push them just under the surface, cover the pan with a lid or foil and leave for 5 minutes.  Sprinkle with the chopped parsley and serve, with some lemon wedges to squeeze over if you like.

I bought some green beans for this but forgot what they were for and gave them to the children for tea the previous day, thus you see peas which were absolutely just as good.


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