Sometimes, when you wake up in the morning and you can see your breath, you just need a little spice.
Cue Thursday night dinner club. You are all wecome to join, although you must bring wine. C and I were hosting this week. On the menu? Stuffed mushrooms, baby tortillas, paella, and rice pudding.
It all started off innocently; C and I sipping tea, chopping onions, peppers, and sausage, peacefully browning the chicken thighs. Little did we know what was in store for us.
We lit some candles and played some Ray Charles, eager to relax in the warmth of our apartment, enjoying the smell of our simmering paella. Our guests slowly trailed in, leaving the frost behind them. We chatted about our students, traded ideas about our upcoming vacation, and grumbled about the train schedule, (as usual). But when the mushrooms and baby tortillas arrived, along with L and A, the ambiance changed. The spicy salsa fresca and the creamy guacamole fait à la main triggered something a little crazy in each of us.
Then, came the paella. It was creamy, it was spicy, and it was delicious. It had mussels and clams and scallops and chicken and shrimp. Each and every grain of rice was scraped from each and every plate. And just when we thought we couldn’t eat a drop more…
The rice pudding came out. And that really did us in.
Suddenly French rap came on the playlist. Ponytails were let down, bottles were cracked. Confessions were made. Secrets were told. Things happened that we cannot take back.
I advise you to make this paella tonight. But please do be careful – your wild side may surprise you…
(adapted from BBC food recipes)
- 170g/6oz spicy sausage, cut into thin slices
- 110g/4oz lardons (pancetta), cut into small dice
- 2 cloves garlic finely chopped
- 1 large Spanish onion, finely diced
- 1 red pepper, diced
- 1 tsp soft thyme leaves
- ¼ tsp dried red chilli flakes
- 570ml/1pint paella rice
- 125ml/4fl oz dry white wine
- 1.2 litres/2 pints chicken stock
- 2 chicken thighs, each chopped in half and browned
- 1 bag of frozen seafood (mussels, clams, scallops, squid)
- 110g/4oz canned peas
- 1 can of tomato purée
- 125ml/4fl oz good olive oil
- 1 head garlic, cloves separated and peeled
- 5 tbsp chopped flatleaf parsley
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1. Heat half the olive oil in a paella dish or heavy-based saucepan. Add the chorizo and pancetta and fry until crisp. Add the garlic, onion and pepper and heat until softened. Add the thyme, chilli flakes and Spanish rice, and stir until all the grains of rice are nicely coated and glossy. Now add the paprika and dry white wine and when it is bubbling, pour in the hot chicken stock, add the chicken thighs and cook for 5-10 minutes.
2. Meanwhile, heat the remaining oil with the garlic cloves in a separate pan and add the seafood. Sprinkle in the peas and chopped tomatoes and continue to cook gently for another 10 minutes. Now add the seafood to the paella. Serve immediately.