Nothing is ever going to taste quite so good as proper traditional paella in a small Spanish restaurant with a lazy afternoon ahead. It also looks far too complicated to try and copy back home. This is my sure-fire easy paella, all made in one pan to feed the whole family and, even better, semi-prepared in advance to make you look brilliantly organized. I personally can’t be bothered to add turmeric powder which gives this dish its distinctive yellow glow, nor do I decorate the top with mussels in their shells – chopped parsley is quite enough.
My simple translation starts with Tilda or Uncle Ben’s squishy bags of rice (1 bag per 2 people) – I prefer the sun-dried tomato flavoured one. In your deepest frying pan, sweat some chopped onions, sliced chorizo sausage/pancetta and red pepper in olive oil. Gradually add cooked chicken pieces (traditionally thigh meat), chopped sun-dried or fresh tomatoes, garlic, paprika, thyme, a few chilli flakes, prawns and prepared squid slices – or mussels if you prefer – from the deli counter. Finally add some frozen peas, a good slosh of white wine and a little salt. Bubble all this briefly and slide into a waiting bowl. Put the rice into the dirty frying pan.
When the time comes, pop the rice on the heat and give it a good stir with a little more olive oil. Add everything in the bowl and mix around with a flourish. Decorate with lemon wedges and chopped parsley and resist saying ‘Olay’.