I have recently returned from a lovely holiday in Spain, where I enjoyed local paella in local, inexpensive restaurants. I was careful to avoid popular tourist destinations, and to seek out local flavours.
I have recreated a paella experience, using easy to source ingredients. I used a whole kilogram bag of onions, which were on special offer this week. After doing some research, I have found that very seasonal produce, which is often on offer, is much more likely to be fresh than the normal supermarket stuff. This is a very frugal way to find fresh, good quality ingredients.
Cooks often recommend purchasing a paella pan. However, I have achieved very good results by using a good quality stainless steel skillet with a lid.
My technique was very simple, to the point where I didn’t need to follow a recipe.
1 kg bag of onions, chopped, 40p
Approximately 100g paella rice, 15p.
Paella rice will absorb water, and can triple in size.
1/2 fermented lemon, 10p, rind chopped into very small strips
I fermented my own lemons, which was really easy to do.
100g frozen peas, 15p
Good quality mushroom or vegetable stock cube, 10p
Tin of sardines in spring water with no salt added, 45p, large bones removed
This produced enough for two meals each for two people, so the cost per serving was 35p per serving, and the servings were hearty enough for a good weekend meal.
Steps to follow:
Chop the onions, and fry them gently. I used a skillet with a lid, so that I could get a nice crusty layer of caramelised onion to flavour the dish. I let my onions cook gently for a full hour, which really enhanced their flavour. I kept the temperature low, added a little water to the pan, and used a lid, so that I could let them cook and do other tasks without worrying about them.
When the onions are soft and tasty, and the paella rice, stock cube, water and the chopped rind of the fermented lemon. Replace the lid and allow to cook for another 30 minutes, adding water a little at a time as the rice expands.
Add the sardines and the peas, and allow to cook gently for another 5 minutes.
This recipe was so simple, and so tasty! The cooking process did take 2 hours, but I was able to walk away and leave this to slowly cook on its own.