Features » The Good Food Guide
MERCEDES’ ANDALUCIAN KITCHEN
Contributor / 2009-12-24 14:32:25
Authentic Andalucian cooking brought to you by Mercedes Villodres – good food, traditional ingredients … and a little bit of southern flair!
PAELLA DE JUBRIQUE
I thought I’d start with paella, and there are several good reasons for doing so. It’s perhaps the dish most associated with southern Spain, it’s quite easy to cook, it looks, smells and tastes quite spectacular, and what is more, it lends itself to a bit of creativity and experimentation on the part of the cook
It’s important to bear in mind that there are literally thousands of versions of this dish. Indeed, it is almost true to say that there are as many authentic types of paella as there are people who cook it. For vegetarian paella, you can substitute diced aubergine for the chicken. Other versions use pork, cut in cubes. Some cooks swear by peppercorns, adding about a dozen to the recipe I’ve given here.
I learned to make paella as a little girl. We often used to visit my grandmother in her native village of Jubrique, set in the mountains inland from Gibraltar. Those were magical summers. My cousins taught me to swim in the stream, and I loved fetching water from the well, and helping my abuela (grandmother) in the kitchen. This is the basic paella that she taught me to cook, so I’ve called it “de Jubrique”in her memory.
You are free, of course, to add your own variations to this simple recipe. In fact, I’ll be disappointed if you don’t. The spirit of Spanish cuisine is individuality: so customize your paella, make it your own. For instance, some people prefer to buy their stock (“caldo”) from the supermarket, because the shop-bought commodity at least guarantees reasonable results. Others like to re-use the liquor left over from boiling the clams and mussels. Yet others will buy their chicken on the bone and pre-boil it, saving this water as stock.
Whatever your approach, enjoy it. The essence of producing good food is to put some alegria,or joy, into the process – and believe me, your sense of fun will show through in the final product!
Paella de Jubrique – Ingredients
Rice 500g 1lb, 2oz
Prawns, cooked & peeled (*) 500g 1lb, 2oz
Chicken breast cut in cubes 500g 1lb, 2oz
Squid cut in rings 300g 10 oz
Peas (pre-cooked) 100g 3.5 oz
Olive oil 75ml 1.5 pints
Stock 1.25 litres 2.5 pints
3 cloves of garlic, diced
1 bay leaf
1 onion, diced
1 glass of dry white wine
2 green peppers, chopped
1 red pepper, chopped
2 large tomatoes, chopped
Half a tablespoon of saffron
2 tablespoons of salt
(*) remember to hold back a few prawns, in their shells, for adorning the final dish
Steam open the clams and mussels. For decorative purposes, you may want to remove the top halves of the mussel shells. Pour the olive oil into your paella pan, and warm it up. Once it’s quite hot, throw in the garlic and let it sear. At the point when the garlic starts browning, drop in the peppers, onion and bay leaf. When the onion has turned glassy, add the tomatoes. Give this mixture a minute or two to heat through, and then stir in the chicken. Keep turning the cubes frequently and, when they’re nicely done, add the squid rings and the white wine. Sprinkle salt over the whole mix, and leave the pan, covered, to simmer for fifteen minutes.
When this time has elapsed, pour in the stock, followed by the clams and mussels. Cover the paella pan again, and leave it simmering for a further fifteen minutes.
This done, it’s time to throw in the rice, saffron, peas and prawns. Now the dish needs a final simmer of twenty minutes. Towards the end of this period, test the rice from time to time. You will know when it’s ready, because it will have swollen and softened, having absorbed all of the stock. Serve hot, adorned with prawns and mussels in their shells.
Tags: Paella, Spain, Tradition, Food