We ate this paella under the bony arms of the wisteria in Fitzroy, even though it was freezing, because Paella is a summery dish, an outdoorsy, masculine thing to make. Apparently it’s the Spanish version of the BBQ, where men stand around with their arms bared to the sun, guns on show as they stir the giant pot.
Our friend Murray would always make Sarah and I this Casa Moro version of a Paella, and when I received this beautiful blue Le Crueset pot for my birthday we couldn’t think of anything better to cook in it. Murray is still far, far away, across the oceans in Berlin, but he says he’s perfected this paella. He doesn’t put the pork in, he says it doesn’t need it, so decide for yourselves. He says it’s all about the chorizo and the beautiful caramelised onion and peppers sofrito.
For spring serve with a fresh peppery rocket salad – with arms bared to the sun.
paella de cerdo con chorizo y espinaca
(rice with pork, chorizo and spinach)
Adapted from Moro The Cookbook, Sam & Sam Clark
We have added a red capsicum instead of noras peppers, which are dried Spanish peppers, and also used some saffron.
7 tbsp olive oil
350g pork fillet, halved lengthways, then sliced across roughly into 7mm strips
120g mild cooking chorizo, cut into pieces
2 large Spanish onions, finely chopped
1 large green capsicum, halved, seeded and finely chopped
1 large red capsicum, halved, seeded and finely chopped
4 garlic cloves, finely chopped
250g calasparra (paella) rice (Casa Iberica in Melbourne is a good place to shop for such things)
1 tsp sweet smoked Spanish paprika
A strand or two of saffron
900ml hot chicken stock or water
500g spinach, washed and drained
1 lemon in wedges
sea salt and black pepper
In a 30-40cm paella pan or frying pan, heat the olive oil over a high heat, then stir-fry the pork for a few seconds so it is still a little undercooked. Season with salt and pepper. Remove from the pan with a slotted spoon and put to one side. Turn down the heat to a low to medium temperature and fry the chorizo for a minute. Add the onion and capsicums and cook for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the garlic to the onion and cook for a further 5-10 minutes. At this point the mixture (sofrito) should have caramelised and taste sweet. Stir the rice into the pan to coat in the flavoursome mixture for a minute. (My chef friend says to fry it for much more than a minute, so that the grains get toasty.)
Now season with salt and a little pepper, and add your paprika and saffron followed by the hot stock and simmer for 15 minutes or until there is just a thin layer of liquid around the rice. The rice should still be firm, but not chalky. Meanwhile in a large saucepan, briefly wilt the spinach with a little salt by blanching, or steaming (or alternatively let it wilt atop the rice with a lid over the top.) Evenly scatter the pork over the rice followed by the spinach. With the back of a spoon gently push the pork and spinach partially into the oily liquid that remains at the bottom of the pan. Cover the paella tightly with foil (or a lid) and let it sit for 5 minutes. Serve with lemon and a crisp salad.
Serves 4 as a main course.