One of the things I love about the summer is cooking and eating outside and of my favorite dishes to cook is paella.
I live in southern Spain in the mountains and my Spanish neighbors have been trying to teach me how to make perfect paella for years. Paella is a traditional Spanish rice dish named after the flat pan it is usually cooked in, the paellera, and is usually cooked outside over charcoal. It was traditionally made using any vegetables available and any animals that could be caught in the campo—often rabbits, snails, frogs…
The recipe I use is based on Valencian paella. Valencia is a province in the east of the country as opposed to Andalucía where I live in the south, but this is the easiest and most consistent recipe I have come across.
100ml olive oil
Small jar of chick peas
Meat of your choice (eg 2 chicken breasts, cut into 4 pieces and 2 rabbit legs, jointed)
125g green beans (or any green vegetable you have)
I large tomato
I liter of chicken stock
I liter of white wine (I buy this in cartons for cooking)
Pinch of saffron dissolved in boiling water
1 tablespoon sweet paprika
Sprig of rosemary
350g Spanish paella or bomba rice.
Heat the oil and fry the meat in batches until golden brown, then reduce the heat to low and add the green beans, fry for five minutes, then add the chopped tomato and fry for 3 more minutes.
Stir in the paprika, add the stock, wine and chick peas. Return to the boil and add the rosemary and saffron. Simmer for 30 minutes. Sprinkle on the rice, boil for 5 minutes, then lower heat and simmer for fifteen until the rice is cooked and the liquid evaporated. Season to taste.
We love seafood and often add any we have around—calamari, prawns, mussels— toward the end of cooking. And it improves if you cover and leave to stand for ten minutes or so at the end of cooking.
And there it is. Really easy and a great dish to do if you have people over as it just about cooks on its own once it’s up and running (just don’t drink too much sangria until it’s done or you can forget to add the rice…)
Do you have a favorite recipe you love cooking outdoors in the summer?