I have to confess that for years I avoided making a paella, ever since I read in one cookery book that one of the ingredients was a 'singing bird'.
Simply on humanitarian grounds I couldn't contemplate it. However, after fourteen years of marriage, my husband pressed me to make one with rather simpler ingredients and we were both delighted with the result. This is obviously a simplified version as it had to be scaled down for one, but if you would like to use 2 oz (50 g) chopped chicken breast and cut the prawns by 2 oz (50 g), that would be okay.
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This recipe is from Delia's Frugal Food. Serves 1
Shell the prawns – it will take 10 minutes at most – but leave three prawns in their shells.
Cover the peeled prawns and leave them in a cool place. Now place all the shells in a saucepan, cover with ¾ pint (425 ml) of cold water, add a little salt and boil briskly for 15 minutes to make a lovely prawn-flavoured stock. Meanwhile, take a heavy 7 inch (18 cm) frying pan and heat the oil in it, then add the pepper, onion and garlic and let them cook gently for 10 minutes. While that's happening, put the saffron into a mortar and crush it with the pestle.
When the stock is ready, strain it into a jug and discard the shells, then spoon a couple of tablespoons of stock on to the saffron to soak it a little. Next stir the rice into the frying-pan and stir it around until all the grains are coated with oil and they begin to look transparent. When that has happened, pour in the chopped tomatoes and paprika, followed by 4 fl oz (110 ml) of the stock plus the saffron liquid. Sprinkle in ½ level teaspoon of salt, stir once then leave the pan on a very low heat to barely simmer for 15 minutes, shaking the pan from time to time to prevent sticking (you do have to stay with it and keep an eye on it). After 15 minutes most of the liquid will have been absorbed.
Now add the chorizo, but don't stir or the rice will break and go sticky. Just push the pieces in with a skewer. Now add another 4 fl oz (110 ml) of stock and let it simmer as before just shaking the pan now and then.
Meanwhile measure out the peas and rinse them under a hot running tap for a minute to defrost them. Now sprinkle the peas and the peeled prawns, plus the prawns still in their shells, over the surface of the paella. Add one more fluid ounce of stock and carry on cooking for a further 5-10 minutes for the prawns and peas to heat through (still shaking the pan from time to time). You can turn the heat up a bit at this stage to accelerate the process – but no stirring! As soon as they are hot, you can incorporate them gently into the rest of the ingredients.
Then serve the paella on a warmed, deep soup plate and drink some chilled Spanish white wine with it.