So I’ve been in Spain for 2 weeks now and you’ll be happy to know I have managed to tear myself away from the markets and my little kitchen and venture out to a couple of restaurants and a wine tasting. Actually even the wine tasting had amazing tapas, but I digress.
I haven’t yet found anywhere to try the most famous and possibly most abused of Spanish dishes – Paella. Not that there aren’t plenty of restaurants touting a mind boggling number of Paella options. More that I’m being a little precious about my first Paella experience this time and would rather give it a miss than experience a mediocre version.
Paella can be even more difficult to do well than Italian risotto. Not only does one have to juggle the cooking times of the various inclusions which tend to be seafood, there is only one chance to get the amount of liquid correct. Then you have to nail the cooking temperature so that it’s high enough to leave the socarrat – the prized crust on the bottom of the pan, but not so fierce that it burns before the rice is cooked.
I’ve found, there’s so much more to the Spanish love affair with rice than just paella. And thankfully for us minimalist home cooks, the more simple Spanish rice dishes are much less demanding. Just brown an onion, add rice, flavourings and liquid and simmer gently, stirring when you remember – nothing like high maintenance risotto that chains you to the stove.
And did I mention it’s a great excuse to use some fabulous Spanish chorizo? I’ve long been a devotee of the holy sausage, but I wasn’t prepared for how much more intense Spanish chorizo would be. It is a flavour explosion of deep smoky salty porky goodness – makes Australian chorizo look as bland as a frankfurter. Another reason to stay in Spain.
I am still keen to try a good Paella so if you have any recommendations, would love to hear about them in the comments.
arroz con chorizo y pimentos
(spanish rice with chorizo and peppers)
Inspired by Simone Ortega and her quintessential book on Spanish home cooking – 1080 recipes.
It’s up to you whether you make this rice focused or more about the chorizo. I used only 2 chorizo and really enjoyed letting the rice shine but by all means add 4 chorizo if you’re feeding particularly hungry carnivores.
If you can’t get your hands on pimentos you can either leave them out or char and peel a couple of red capsicum (peppers).
This would also make a lovely vegetarian (even vegan!) meal. Just leave out the chorizo, substitute vegetable stock for the water, and toss through a can of drained chickpeas when you add the pimentos.
3T olive oil
1 large onion, peeled & chopped
2 cloves garlic, peeled & thinly sliced
2 – 4 chorizo sliced
1C Calasparra rice (or Arborio)
1 x 400g (14oz) can tomatoes, chopped
2t smoked Spanish paprika
1/2 jar pimentos (about 4), sliced
Heat oil in a large saucepan and cook onion over a medium low heat, covered and stirring occasionally until soft but not browned. Add garlic and chorizo and cook for another minute or so. Add rice, tomatoes, paprika and water and bring to a simmer.
Cook stirring occasionally until the water is absorbed and the rice is soft – 20 minutes mas ou menos (more or less). If it becomes a little dry before the rice is cooked, add a little more water.
Stir through pimentos, season well and allow to heat through.
Divide between serving bowls and serve hot.
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Glad you are enjoying Barcelona. It’s got even colder over here now, so you may get visitors.
I was looking through a book yesterday and found a recipe for chirozo cake. A bit like savoury scones I guess, but I will stick to banana and ginger.
getting colder? good thing I didn’t hang around. lovely here. I might have to investigate this chorizo cake – although I’m without a proper oven so it might have to wait until the new year
About Paella, I liked Sete Portes but that’s a long time ago. See the Paella professor
Yummy photos….sorry I don’t have a recipe on offer. I tend to think rice dishes are meant to be cooked to taste. For instance, I love a soft rice risotto but some like it al dente.
For me, the key to good paella is the ‘dryish nature’ of the rice…not as creamy/wet as the risotto. Enjoy your holiday
I’m not going to recommend you a good paella in BCN, most of them are “just for tourists” so you are doing it very well being careful.
I’m going to recommend you the most incredible tapas bar in Barcelona you can imagine. It’s going to be a bit expensive, I have to say. Prepare 45 to 60 euro per person if you want to have some wine and 15 more for the taxi, as it is a bit far from the city centre. You can go with the subway too, if you prefer.
The place is called “Els tres porquets”. It’s located in Rambla del Poble Nou,165, very close to GRAN VIA and PLAÇA DE LES GLORIES.
Their webpage is still under construction, but you can find there the contact information and a small map: http://www.elstresporquets.es/
ps: once you are there, ask them about “can pineda”, it’s very close, and it’s another impressive place ;) Enjoy!
Once you go there I can recommend for you:
Croquetes de ceps
Ous amb xoriço
and whatever else you can order will be from great, to impressive.
Unfortunately I don’t know “el bulli”, but I’m sure this is not far. In fact is a very different type of food, as this is traditional spanish food.
Let me know if you decide to give it a try.
Actually, best paella at Kaiku.
Best “modern” rices at La Mar Salada.
And best CREATIVE rices at LA MIFANERA. One of best restaurants wich uses more than 50 types of rice from all over the world, and they cook in plenty of diferent ways.
In my personal opinion, Set Portes it’s out of time and we have TOO MUCH places who cook BAD PAELLA, ask lot of money and are DISGUSTING.
Have a good paella in Barcelona it’s very difficult.
This looks good, I am going try this making this one. This will remind my wife of the fantastic time we had travelling through spain.
Yes, good to be cautious with Paella. One thing we learned is to never eat it in a place that has laminated full-color Paella menus. They use bulk manufactured and frozen paella products, and don’t make it themselves.
gosh look at the colour of that chorizo…I bet it tastes fantastic too (*real* chorizo). I am jealous….but glad we are vicariously enjoying Spain with you!
This looks YUMmy. Can’t wait to visit the markets and cook this for myself. Thanks, Jules.
Loved the last pic! I like to make chorizo for my husband, it reminds me of home, kind of…
Don’t stir paella rice!! Unlike risotto, you don’t want to develop the starchy coating. Both use round-grain rice (calasparra or arborio), but method is different. Paella not difficult–best advice I got from a Valenciano–practice every Sunday!
thanks for the tip – I love it – might start my preactice this sunday
I know you’re not supposed to stir paella but from simone ortega I thought it was OK to stir other ‘arroz’ dishes – although I’m working from the Spanish edition which could mean I’ve completely interpreted incorrectly
that last shot was my favourite as well – really shows up the colour. yum
you’re going to LOVE it here. lucky you
thanks spice & more – the chorizo is truly amazing – glad you’re enjoying my spanish sojourn
thanks for the tip scott – laminated menus are never a good idea – I’m also steering clear of places with menus in english
that’s really sweet greg – hope your wife enjoys it
thanks for the recommendations ramon – have added to my list
thanks lopez – appreciate your recommendation
thanks kitchen butterfly – I agree that rice, like pasta, should be about individual preference
thanks for the link kees – of course there’s a paella professor blog – too cute
My paella recipe is from the Hotel Ritz Madrid which I came across back in 1999 in a Vogue Entertaining. I haven’t made it since moving to Australia as I cooked on gas in NZ. I’m a bit worried about using glass top stove as it is difficult to control the heat. I have bought a gas camping stove and intend to try it on that.
Great to hear you are having a fabulous time. I love Spain.
I’d recommend Can Majo in Barceloneta – we ate there twice when visiting in September. Though I agree with you on the markets, I love to stay in an apartment in Barcelona just so that we can prepare food bought at market. Santa Caterina was probably my favourite. Hope you continue to have a wonderful time.
paella from the ritz in madrid sounds pretty fancy – I love it.
good luck with the camping stove
thanks for the tip clare
A friend pointed out Can Majo to me the other day – it’s not to far from my place
I love santa catherina as well – such a colourful place
Hi! First of all, I love your blog (and the photos are great, too), it is aesthetically so satisfying…
And a question regarding the above recipe – what kind of jared pimentos are those? Pickled or?
it’s sweet of you to say so.
I used pickled pimentos but if you get them in oil they’d work just as well. and fresh roasted peppers would also do the trick
Oh, wonderful! I too am intimidated by paella… this sounds a lot more manageable and I have some chorizo in the freezer just waiting for its day in the sun!
you must be a lucky lady to have chorizo in the freezer
I’ve just discovered your blog and spent the last few hours reading through it (I have a very boring job as a receptionist!). It’s brilliant and I’m totally absorbed. You have some wonderful recipes on here which I just can’t wait to try – the arroz con chorizo being the first!
thanks so much for your lovely message
glad to hear stonesoup is helping relieve your boredom!
hope you enjoy the arroz
Just one tip to do better your paella. When you add the water, it must be boiling. This way you don’t stop the cooking.
And if you want to do an exellent one, then you can change the water for the liquid of boiled fish bones for fish/fruti di mare paella, what we called “fumet”. And if you want to do a meat paella you can use the liquid of boiled bones of ham or chicken or whatever, we called “brou”
thanks for the paella tips. I think you’re talking about broth or stock in english – which would make a difference to your paella – I was just keeping my rice recipe nice and simple
That looks fantastic! I also love chorizo and have been craving for it recently so it’s great timing that you decided to post this recipe. Thanks -gorgeous photography as well :)
any excuse for chorizo! glad I could help
In the Barceloneta area, I too like Can Majo’ (was just there Saturday night) and Cheriff on Carrer de Ginebra (very old world).
I have to try Lopez’s suggestion, Els Tres Porquets – it sounds incredible! The name means ‘Three Little Pigs’ in Catalan… I, too, can’t wait to hear about el bulli.
thanks for the tips tracy – I’m running out of time to try everywhere – if only I hadn’t spent all that time shopping at the markets and cooking at home.
i found your blog by accident and tried this recipe and can i say A M A Z I N G! so simple yet so fillingly delicious i could have it everyday.
thanks for all the lovely inspirations
I’m trying a variant of this recipe right now (using up contents of the pantry & am short paprika and peppers, also using long grain rice) and it’s still coming out lovely, the chorizo is adding so much flavour on it’s own