The Spanish generally use whatever is in season and at hand for a country paella.

INGREDIENTS

7 tbsp olive oil

Four whole quails, cut in quarters

250g chorizo sausage

salt and pepper

1 onion, finely chopped

2 cloves of garlic, chopped

1 red pepper/capsicum and 1 green pepper/capsicum, diced

2 tomatoes, skinned and finely chopped

1/4 tsp saffron

1/2 tsp chili powder

nutmeg

1 litre chicken stock

200g peas

1 sprig rosemary

400g Calasparra rice

2 lemons, cut into wedges

2 tbsp chopped parsley

METHOD

Heat the paella pan then add 2 tablespoons of the olive oil, the quail and chorizo. Season well with salt and pepper and cook until brown all over. Remove the quail and chorizo while you prepare the sofrito.

For the sofrito: Add the rest of the oil to the same pan and when hot, add the finely chopped onion.

Cook over a medium heat, stirring occasionally until the onion has softened and is golden. Now add the garlic, cook for a couple of minutes then add the capsicum and cook five minutes more until lightly coloured and softened.

Add the chopped tomatoes, season liberally with salt and pepper and cook slowly until the sofrito has reduced and there is no liquid left. Add about one quarter cup of water and continue to cook until the liquid again has reduced, then set aside. This should all take about 45 minutes.

The sofrito should have a concentrated flavour and pulpy consistency. You can prepare it up to a day ahead.

For the paella: Gently heat the saffron in a small pan for a couple of minutes, until it changes colour and becomes fragrant, but be careful as it burns very easily. Remove from the heat, crush with the back of a spoon and add two tablespoons of warm water or milk (milk seems to be particularly good for getting the saffron to deliver up its colour).

Put the paella pan back on a medium heat. Add the quail, chorizo and chili powder and a generous pinch of nutmeg and cook, stirring for a couple of minutes.

Add the water or stock and some fresh lemon juice, peas and rosemary and bring to the boil. Taste the mixture – it should be very tasty, if not add salt.

Put in the saffron and the rice and bring to the boil. Stir briefly then turn to a low heat. Do not stir any more.

Cook the paella 15-18 minutes or until the rice is plump and almost soft – it should be a little al dente. Turn the heat to high and cook for a couple of minutes. Any remaining liquid will boil away and a crust will form on the bottom of the pan.

Remove from the heat and cover with a tea towel for 10 minutes, then uncover and leave to rest for another 5-10 minutes before serving.

Squeeze over some more lemon juice (not too much, 1/2 lemon at most) and sprinkle with chopped parsley. Serve directly from the pan.

Try a good ‘super’ Tuscan with this rather posh version of paella.

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