Lo Corcoran talks all things Christmas ham, New Year’s resolutions, seafood paella and the beloved game of cricket.
How good is Christmas ham. Cork Daddy’s favourite food, I have to admit I’m a bit fussy when it comes to the carving. I love it really finely shaved – please no ham steaks for me! Frequenting many a Chrissie party throughout the month of December and always taking centerstage on the table come Christmas Day, there is however only so much leftover ham one can eat.
Come January I’m always craving a bit of spice, whereas others are on the straight and narrow trying to stick to their New Year’s resolutions of ‘losing weight’, ‘doing more exercise’ and other promises that so often fall by the wayside. This year my New Year’s resolution has nothing to do with cutting out carbs, drinking less alcohol or committing endless hours to the treadmill. I’m going to vow to try and keep some of my plants alive in our new veggie garden. Notice how I didn’t say keep “all” plants alive? I’m trying to be realistic.
And with Christmas done and dusted for another year we’re lucky enough to be escaping the heat and heading to the coast with our girls. My seafood paella recipe is just what you need for those lazy days spent with family and friends by the seaside. Choosing to cook my paella at the beach, once you’ve got past dragging the heavy eskies whilst lugging the umbrella and juggling all things ingredients, cricket bats, beach towels, sunscreen, bucket and spades; everything but the kitchen sink, it really is quite a relaxing way to spend the day. With fresh local seafood at my fingertips, I fire up the barbie while Grandad gets down to the important business of stepping out the cricket pitch. The guidelines are set, ‘6 and out’ rules apply; you hit the ball into the water and you’re back to fielding.
I compare fielding in a game of cricket to washing up the dishes. People’s true colours come out when it’s time to do either. Everyone loves batting but the excuses seem to come flying out of the woodwork when it’s their turn to field: “I better go and check on the sleeping baby”, “Anyone fancy a drink?” or “Oh I just need to pop to the loo”. It’s only the stayers among us that have the commitment and competitiveness to stand patiently in the outfield waiting for a turn to bat.
So with the smell of paprika in the air, a cold drink in hand and surrounded by family and friends (who no doubt will give you their two bob’s worth when it comes to how it should be cooked), you couldn’t get a better ‘sense of occasion’ dish if you tried. Paella is brilliant as it’s ever so versatile, can easily feed a crowd and is a lot easier to make than it looks. And don’t worry, you don’t need to be a paella enthusiast like me and own a giant portable paella pan and burner (a present from Mum and Dad last year) as you can cook it in any large pan on the barbie or stovetop.
Summer days at the beach…
seafood paella (serves 8)
2 x chorizo sausages, skins removed and finely sliced
2 x chicken breasts, cut in to small pieces
4 x spring onions, finely chopped
2 x red capsicums, finely sliced
4 x garlic cloves, finely sliced
2 x heaped teaspoons of paprika
1 x small teaspoon of cayenne pepper
500 grams of aborio rice
2 x 400 gram tins of chopped tomatoes
A good pinch of saffron, soaked in 2 x tablespoons of water
6 x cups of chicken stock
A good handful of green beans, ends trimmed and halved
500 grams of green king prawns
1 x kilo of mussels, cleaned and de-bearded
1/2 a bunch of fresh flat leaf parsley, finely chopped
A good dash of olive oil
Salt and pepper
Lemon wedges, to serve
Crusty bread, to serve
Aioli, to serve
Mixed salad leaves, to serve
- Heat a good splash of olive oil in the pan and fry off the chorizo for a couple of minutes until golden and crispy. Set aside.
- Using more oil if needed, fry off the chicken pieces until browned, seasoning with salt and pepper. Set aside.
- Using more oil if needed add the spring onions and capsicum until they start to soften.
- Add the garlic, paprika and cayenne pepper and stir to combine.
- Now add the rice and stir to coat in the spices.
- Add the tomatoes, stock and saffron and stir. Bring this to the boil.
- Back the heat off to a slow simmer and cook for 20-30 minutes, or until the rice is nearly cooked through but still holds its shape.
- Scatter the beans, prawns, mussels and squid around the pan and content to cook for another 10 minutes or so.
- You know the paella is ready once the prawns have turned a lovely pink colour, the mussels have opened (discarding any that haven’t) and the rice and beans are cooked to your liking.
- Sprinkle with parsley and serve with fresh lemon wedges, aioli, mixed salad leaves and some crusty bread.
If you make this seafood paella, please leave your comments below. xx