On Saturday afternoon I found myself aimlessly wandering around the grocery store, trying in vain to find inspiration over "what on earth am I going to cook for dinner tonight?" I have to confess I was feeling a touch of self pity. I mean one of my children doesn't eat fish, one has given up red meat for Lent, one thinks she's a vegetarian but doesn't like vegetables and the other has refused to eat another piece of chicken in her life - what's a British Mum to do?
Then on my third loop past the fish counter I had a stroke of brilliance! Paella!!! No really, it's a great idea, there's something for everyone. Chorizo for the meat eaters, clams, mussels and shrimp for the fish eaters, chicken for the chicken eaters and rice for the vegetarian, throw in a few vegetables and everyone is happy. A stroke of brilliance? I think so.
If you want that distinct yellow rice look and saffron is a little on the expensive side, add 1/2 -3/4 teaspoon of turmeric to the chicken stock and stir.
I displayed my lovely meal on a rather pretty platter and sprinkled the paella with chopped herbs and wedges of oranges and lemons. At the end of dinner there was not a grain of rice left, not a shrimp to be had. Everyone was indeed happy.
Heat oven to 375F
2 large split chicken breasts, skin on and bone in. Cut these in half so you have 4 pieces of chicken.
2-3 tablespoons of olive oil
salt and pepper
Zest and juice of 1 lemon
Pinch of paprika
FOR THE VEGETABLES AND SEAFOOD.
1 medium to large onion
3 sticks of celery
1 large red pepper
2 cloves of garlic, finely choppedsalt and pepper
1/2 glass of white wine
1 1/2 cups of rice (I used brown basmati)
3 cups of organic chicken stock
6- 8 mussels (well scrubbed and rinsed)
6-8 clams (well cleaned)
1 /2 lb of cleaned shrimp
6 0z of frozen peas
Fresh parsley for garnish
Lemon and orange wedges for serving.
- In a baking pan place the 4 pieces of chicken. Mix the olive oil with the lemon zest, juice, salt and pepper and paprika and rub the mixture over the chicken. Put in the oven and cook until golden and cooked through, about 45 minutes. Remove from oven, cover and set aside.
- In a large saute pan with a well fitting lid, heat the olive oil and add the onions, cook gently for about 5 minutes, add the celery, red pepper and garlic, cook for a further 4-5 minutes until soft, being careful not to brown the vegetables.
- Season with salt and pepper, add the rice stirring well so the grains are lightly covered in the oil. Add a nice splash of white wine, about 1/2 a glass (I'm not adverse to the option of you consuming the rest of the glass if you should feel the need). Add the chicken stock, cover immediately and turn down the heat to a simmer until the rice is ALMOST cooked, start checking after about 15 minutes.
- Add the clams, mussels, shrimps and peas and cover again. After about 6-10 minutes all the clams and mussels should have opened their shells, if any refuse to open, discard them. Check that the shrimp is cooked through.
- Spoon the paella onto a large warm platter. Take the skin off the chicken, pull it off the bone and tear into chunks, add to the paella and gently mix in. Garnish with chopped parsley, lemon and orange wedges, squeeze a little lemon juice over and proudly serve.
I hope your family loves this as much as mine did.