24 August 2009
Traditional Spanish Cooking
Traditional Spanish paella, there is nothing quite like watching the experts at work making a paella over the outdoor barbeque. The flavours of a paella over hot smokey coals cannot be compared to those cooked indoors, both are good but the outdoor version always has the edge - a rustic flavour...
We are fortunate enough to be invited to a fiesta or two every August where a big paella pan always has something interesting bubbling within. This time the recipe was simply "Conejo y arroz" (Rabbit & Rice) not strictly a paella but very similar, in fact you could find liver and inch long pieces of pork rib among the bomba rice - cooked to perfection. Apparently it was a "receta de me Madre" a recipe that had been in the family for a couple of generations and obviously still enjoyed to this day.
Interestingly the cocinera (chef) had an unusual way of cooking this rather larger dish. Normally to cook anything on a barbeque you need "brasa" (hot bed of coals) for this recipe though the heat was distributed evenly under the 42cm paella pan using nothing but small sticks and pine cones. Careful attention was paid to the fire just as much as the dish and the flames were tended to frequently, lots of fire but never too hot - a secret of cooking Spanish paella outdoors.
When the dish was ready it was quickly removed and covered with newspaper to rest for a few minutes then with a table set for 12 it was time dig in!