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Cover: A dish for all seasons

Recipes with rice

29Jun 12

Paella Valenciana – Rabbit Paella with Spring Onions

Paella ValencianaPaella Valenciana is a Spanish dish from the coastal region of Valencia. During certain fiestas in Spain, the whole village congregates in celebration, and a feast is cooked up for everyone in a gigantic paella dish (which can be metres wide)!  Everyone is there.  The kids play and the grandparents sit and talk in the sun.  I’ve been to a few of these events over the years, and I love both the community feeling, and watching on as the paella is cooked over coal.

One of the secrets of making good paella is this – when you add the stock, stir everything once, then don’t stir it again for the rest of the cooking time.  This way you can create a pretty arrangement of all of the ingredients and they stay in place.  This is particularly effective with seafood paella such as this prawn paella with chorizo.

What you need:

  • 400g rabbit, roughly cut into bite-sized pieces
  • 400g chicken, roughly cut into bite-sized pieces
  • 3 spring onions, finely sliced
  • 250g green beans
  • 150g fresh peas, removed from the pod (or substitute with frozen peas)
  • 1 large ripe tomato, finely chopped
  • 400g paella rice
  • 1.5L chicken stock
  • 6 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tsp ground paprika, sweet or smoked
  • Pinch of saffron
  • Salt

What to do:

  1. Heat the olive oil in a paella dish or large, flat-based frying pan.
  2. Add the chicken and the rabbit, browning the meat all over on a fairly high heat to seal in the juices.  Fry like this for 4-5 minutes, turning the meat as necessary.
  3. Add the onions and the green beans to the pan, and on a medium heat, cook for another 3-4 minutes.
  4. Add the rice, the saffron, the sweet paprika and the salt, and fry for a few minutes before pouring in about two-thirds of a litre of the chicken stock.  Stir immediately, just once, and bring the stock up to the boil.  Add the peas and then turn down the heat and simmer until the rice softens – this could take 20-30 minutes depending on the rice you are using.  Don’t cover the pan with a lid but do keep an eye on the dish and add more stock if necessary as it absorbs and evaporates during cooking.  Don’t let the pan run dry because the rice will then stick.  At the end of the cooking time, you are aiming for all of the stock to have been absorbed into the dish, leaving the rice soft, moist and full of flavour.
  5. Season lightly again all over with salt and place the cooking dish on a mat on the table to serve once sat down together.  Enjoy with wine or beer and a hunk of baguette.

20-30 minutes to prepare, less than 45 minutes to cook

Makes: 4 main courses

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04May 12

Mexican Chicken Mole, Puebla Style

Mexican Chicken MoléThe 5th May is a special day in Mexico.  Mexican pride and heritage are celebrated in the Cinco de Mayo festival, when Mexican chicken mole, Puebla style is often cooked up communally.

Puebla is one of the three states that claim to be the founder of mole.  There are myths and legends surrounding the origin of the dish.  You can find out more if you want to because they are rather fascinating.

For some people, mole might be an acquired taste because it combines many interesting flavours such as chocolate and chicken. These two ingredients might not normally go together, but in mole and in this chicken thighs with a chilli chocolate sauce recipe, they are absolutely fantastic!

What you need:

  • 400g chicken breast pieces, skinless
  • 400g chicken thighs, boneless, skinless
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 large onion, finely sliced
  • 1 tsp ground coriander
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • ½ tsp ground cinnamon
  • 2 garlic cloves, finely sliced
  • 2 dried ancho chillies, torn into 3cm pieces
  • 700ml hot chicken stock
  • 30g sultanas
  • 1 medium tomato, coarsely chopped
  • 3 tbsp almond flakes, toasted
  • The zest of 1 orange
  • 15g unsweetened cocoa powder
  • Pinch of salt
  • Twist of black pepper
  • White rice or enchiladas to serve

What to do:

  1. Heat the oil on the hob in a cast iron-style casserole dish.  Add the onion and fry for 5 minutes on a medium to high heat, until the onions begin to soften.  Sprinkle over the cumin, coriander and cinnamon and stir in, cooking for a further minute.
  2. Add the garlic and chilli to the pan and fry on for a couple of minutes until the chilli softens.  Stir in the chicken stock.  Now add the tomato, sultanas, sliced almonds and orange zest to the pan and combine.  Bring the sauce up to the boil.
  3. Add the chicken pieces, cover the pan and reduce the heat to a simmer, cooking for around 10-15 minutes or until the chicken is thoroughly cooked.  Remove the chicken from the pan and shred it with 2 forks.  Put it to one side.
  4. Add the chocolate to the sauce, and let it melt.  Whizz the sauce with a hand blender until smooth.  Reduce the sauce over a medium heat for around 20 minutes.  Add the chicken back to the pan, season with salt and pepper, and serve with white rice or in enchiladas.

15 minutes to prepare, around 45 minutes to cook

Makes 3-4 servings

A little more about ancho chillies:  Ancho means ‘wide’ in Spanish.  These are dried; deep reddish brown chilli peppers about 7.5cm wide and 10cm long which have a sweet, hot flavour.  When fresh, they are called poblanos.  Anchos are flat, wrinkled, and heart-shaped.

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