Well, I’m having one of those months where there are too many days and not enough dollars (except really it’s pounds but dollars sounds much better). In an attempt to combat this I’m trying to eat food that I already have around the kitchen, whether in the fridge, freezer or cupboard. This is almost certainly the best meal I’ll manage to make from these leftovers and scraps, since it includes a chorizo ring that was in the fridge. Not a common item to just happen to have lying around, or at least not in my house it’s not, but on this occasion it was there, patiently waiting. I’d bought it with the idea of putting it in a batch of chili I was making, but changed my mind at the last minute. I’m glad now that I did, because it meant the G man and I could have what felt like quite a luxurious dinner without having to spend any money on ingredients. Now I’m down to tins of ‘sandwich tuna’, which is an affront to the good name of tinned tuna, and various dried beans, pulses, pastas and rice, and various frozen veg. I can definitely make some nice, if simple, meals out of those things, but I think they’ll feel very much like meals made of leftovers, you know?
I’ve blogged about paella before, though on that occasion it was the rather more fancy oxtail and chorizo paella with truffle oil. This time I stuck pretty closely to the Gordon Ramsay recipe from his Sunday Lunch recipe book, using the chorizo, a couple of chicken thighs I also had in the fridge and some frozen prawns, frozen peas, frozen sweetcorn, a stem of cherry tomatoes, a lemon of indeterminate age, two chilis of obviously advanced age, half a red onion and a few spring onions, the latter two of which were lurking around in the salad drawer of my fridge. I finished off the long grain white rice from the cupboard, and made up the difference with brown rice – it’s not really ideal to mix the two, since they cook at different rates, but I managed to pull it off, even though I completely forgot my intention to put the brown rice in first and the white later. Miracles will never cease. The contents of my apothecary chest, spice drawer and condiments cupboard also came heavily into play in making the paella taste like a proper meal and not a meal cobbled together out of bits and pieces.
I started off my cooking the red onion (chopped) and the spring onions (sliced into rounds) in my wok with several stems of dried thyme leaves (also a salad drawer refugee) and the sliced chorizo, all in a spot of olive oil. When the onion was softened and everything had taken the colour and flavour of chorizo, I added the rice, and stirred to coat all the grains. I added enough water to cover the rice by about 1cm, a pinch of saffron (the idea of this being a budget meal is becoming more ludicrous by the minute) and left at a medium simmer for fifteen minutes.
After this time, I checked the water levels then stirred in the chicken, which I broke up into bite sized pieced (depending on the size of your bite), the tomatoes (quartered) and all the other ingredients from the chopping board. I also seasoned the paella with salt, pepper, lemon juice and jalapeno Tabasco. I turned the heat down to prevent any burning and after another ten minutes checked it again. There was still more liquid than I would have liked, so I tried turning the heat right down and spreading the paella thinly around the base and sides of the wok, to let it dry out. This didn’t really work, a better plan would have been to add less water right at the start, but until I invent a time machine this method was the only one open to me. I tasted the rice to check the seasoning and, when I was happy, served it up with lemon wedges as garnish.
To summarise today’s post, I had a lot of good stuff in my kitchen and I used it all up at once, rather than making several meals with one good ingredient each. The other moral of the story is that I’m not a paella expert, particularly when it comes to how much water to add, and this just goes to prove that it’s not a scary dish to attempt, because even if it doesn’t go perfectly you’ve still got a most excellent dinner in front of you. Especially if you put chorizo in it.
It’s not exactly an Aesop’s fables kind of moral, is it?