Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Paella de cerdo con chorizo y espinaca

Otherwise known as rice with pork, chorizo and spinach. I am having a bit of a spanish/moorish/possibly most specifically Moro-ish phase at the moment. I love the rich complexity of chorizo served any which way - anything from plain grilled, or sliced fresh and especially mixed into rice dishes like this one. It is one of those ingredients that somehow makes a dish greater than the sum of its parts.

I was googling the other week looking for stuff for a tapas style Saturday night special and came across this recipe from The Moro Cookbook. I was immediately taken with it because it says at the very beginning This rice is very Spanish in taste. A complex and comforting dish. And I thought - what is a very Spanish taste? I genuinely don't immediately know beyond a mix of rice and paprika which seems a bit too reductionist. Took me only a second to think jamon - the Spanish seriously love their ham and indeed all things pork (this could be one reason for my current fetish) and then to remember some of the best olive oil in the world comes from Spain. Perhaps I know a little more than nothing.

I made this Sunday night with the plan to have it for lunch Monday/Tuesday. It is seriously good - cooking the pork separately at the beginning and adding it back at the end with the wilted spinach made it stand out in the finished dish. I bought my noras peppers from Brindisa.

Paella de cerdo con chorizo y espinaca

7 tbsp olive oil
12oz/340g pork fillet, halved lengthways, then sliced across roughly into 7mm strips
4oz/110g mild cooking chorizo, cut into little pieces
2 large Spanish onions, finely chopped
1 large green pepper, halved, seeded and finely chopped
4 garlic cloves, finely chopped
8oz/225g calasparra (paella rice) or arborio rice
1 tsp sweet smoked Spanish paprika
2 ├▒oras peppers (or dried peppers, not too hot), soaked in hot water
1.75 pints/900ml hot chicken stock or water
1lb 2oz/500g spinach, washed and drained
Sea salt and black pepper

In a 30-40cm paella pan or frying pan, heat the olive oil over a high heat, 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 low, and fry the chorizo for a minute. Add the onion and green pepper and cook for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Add the garlic, and continue cooking for a further 5-10 minutes. At this point, the mixture should have caramelised and taste sweet.

Stir the rice into the pan to coat in the mixture for a minute. Up to this point, everything can be cooked in advance. The next stage requires about 20 minutes' more cooking time.

While the garlic is cooking with the onions and peppers bring the stock to a simmer in a separate pan.

Now season the rice with salt and a little pepper. Add the paprika and noras peppers, drained of their water and chopped roughly, followed by the hot stock, and simmer for 15 minutes or until there is just a thin layer of liquid around the rice.

Meanwhile, briefly wilt the spinach with a little salt, either by braising or steaming, and put to one side with the pork fillet.

When the rice is done, evenly scatter the pork over it, 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 and let it sit for 3-5 minutes.

It was indeed a comforting dish on a cold Sunday night and a lovely thing for lunch next day. If this is the taste of Spain I will happily eat a lot more of it.

It's not cheap initially - this cost about £8 and it is really special. We got six meals from it so in fact it's quite reasonable. Positively a bargain when it works out to be just over a pound per serving!

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