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July - Paella Catalana

Among the many variations of paella - Spain's most famous dish - this recipe is particularly colourful. It comes from the north-east coast of Spain, and reflects the abundance and variety of the region's seafood.

To cut down on Preparation time, you can buy cleaned squid from a fishmonger or a large supermarket.

Serve with crusty French bread, a crisp green salad, and a full-bodied wine like Rioja.

INGREDIENTS

serves 6

  • 1 lb (450 g) cleaned squid
  • 4 cloves garlic
  • 1/2 pint (285ml) red wine
  • 24-30 mussels
  • 1 medium onion
  • 4 tablespoons fresh parsley
  • 1 medium yellow pepper
  • 4 medium ripe tomatoes
  • 1 lb (450 g) monkfish fillet
  • 12 large raw prawns
  • 2 tablespoons virgin olive oil
  • 2 1/2 pints (1.4 litres) fish or chicken stock
  • 1 lb (450 g) Italian easy-cook brown rice
  • 4 oz (115 g) frozen peas or petits pois
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper

 

METHOD

Halve 2 of the cloves of garlic and put them in the bottom of an Ovenproof dish. Slice the body of the cleaned squid into thin rings, and then cut its tentacles into small evenly sized pieces. Put the squid on top of the garlic and pour over half the red wine. Cover and cook for 1 hour in the Oven, stirring occasionally, until the squid is tender.

Meanwhile, scrub the mussels under cold running water and scrape off all the beards and barnacles.

Halve another clove of garlic, then finely chop the onion and parsley. Place the garlic halves, half of the chopped onion, the parsley, mussels and the rest of the red wine in a wide shallow pan, or casserole, with a tightly fitting lid. Cover the pan and bring to the boil, shaking frequently until all of the mussels are open. Reserving the cooking liquid, lift the mussels out of the pan with a slotted spoon and set them aside. Discard any of the mussels that have not opened.

Halve, de-seed and roughly chop the pepper. Plunge the tomatoes into a bowl of hot water for 30 seconds, then into cold water for 1 minute, until cool enough to peel off the skins with your fingers. Chop the tomatoes roughly. Crush the remaining garlic with 1/2 teaspoon of salt.

When the squid is cooked, reserve the cooking liquid and drain. Remove the garlic halves and put the squid and the cooking liquid to one side.

Skin the monkfish fillet, cutting off as much of the tough grey membrane as possible, with a filleting or other sharp knife. Cut the fish into bite-sized chunks. If desired, reserve some whole prawns for garnishing, or leave their tail flanges on. Shell the rest of the prawns with your fingers. Then making a shallow cut along the back of the prawn, remove the dark intestinal vein that runs along the back.

Heat all the olive oil in a large pan and add the monkfish and prawns. Cook over a moderate heat for 5 minutes, stirring gently. Remove with a slotted spoon and set aside. Add the pepper, tomatoes and the remaining onion and garlic. Cook for about 15 minutes, stirring frequently, until thickened.

Heat the stock in a separate pan until it is just simmering. Meanwhile, stir the brown rice into the pan, then pour in the reserved liquid from the mussels and squid. Gently bring to the boil and simmer uncovered until almost all of the liquid has been absorbed by the rice. Stir occasionally.

As the amount of hot stock needed will vary according to the absorbency of the rice you are using, add it gradually in measures of about 1/2 pint (285ml) at a time. Cook over a moderate heat and stir frequently until each measure has been absorbed by the rice. After 30 minutes all the stock should be absorbed, and the rice should be just tender.

Add the frozen peas, then after 1-2 minutes the monkfish, prawns and squid, and stir gently until heated right through. Season to taste and serve.

 

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