Taking the mystery and fear out of cooking
Paella might be the classic, the best known of all the random rice dishes, but it doesn’t have a monopoly on the principle.
What you’re doing is using rice as the bulk of the meal and adding flavor and dietary goodness. That’s how paella started out: it was a cheap and easy way of feeding the family. The rice provided the bulk and you just added whatever you happened to have. If you lived in the countryside you might have chicken or some other kind of meat. On the coast you could possibly lay your hands on some squid or octopus, mussels, clams, whatever.
Those of us with access to supermarkets don’t have to go and kill an animal or get wet finding seafood. But we can use the paella idea. The main difference is that with paella the rice is cooked with the other ingredients, whereas we’re doing it separately.
Part of paella’s appeal lies in the fact that the rice is yellow. You can buy yellow rice. Or you can buy saffron and dye the rice with that while it’s cooking.
Saffron can be quite expensive, but turmeric does the same trick, so you could use that instead.
Long grain rice
Saffron or turmeric (if you don’t have yellow rice).
Diced vegetables (not frozen or canned -do it yourself)
You’ll need a big frying pan to do everything except boil the rice.
Fry some onions and garlic, chop some mushrooms up small and add them. If you also add peas, celery, red pepper etc. (chopped up small), you’ve got a paella-type dish going. When the onions are starting to brown and everything is soft, scoop it out and put it aside.
In the same pan, fry the chops. The pan should be oily enough already.
While that is happening, boil some rice and add the saffron or turmeric. Throw in half a chicken stock cube for extra flavour if you find it lacking the first time you do it.
Drain the rice as well as you can.
Remove the chops and set aside, keeping them warm.
Put the rice in the pan. Don’t use any more oil, because what you’ve got there is highly flavoured liquid gold. Nothing is wasted. You’ve got the taste of the onions, garlic and mushrooms and the juices from the chops.
Add the onion and mushroom mixture (including the extra vegetables if you used them) and let the whole thing sizzle away, stirring to spread the savoury flavours around.
When all the flavor is in the rice, serve with the chops on top.