‘What the hell is in my cupboard?’ Paella

I was incredibly lucky to have been gifted some chorizo today – the UK is still in lock down due to Covid 19 and the coffee shop where Mr Hangry Em works has food going out of date (we are working on redistributing this to our neighbours… there will be no waste). A paella was clearly the winning choice for tea… just absent of the usual accompaniments of meat and shellfish. This meant a search in the back of my cupboards to see what I had lurking there, and came up trumps with some roasted red peppers, artichoke hearts and sardines. Needs must and I needed paella.

Of course this is nothing like a traditional paella, but very much an homage. There was no recipe applied in creating this dish, and was instead quite a bit of fun pulling together random food and creating something that was devoured in 15 minutes. Yep, it was pretty darn good, and what should have served 3 to 4 people served 2. I reckon we could have put away more if it had been there.

By all means follow this to the letter if you like, but embrace your creative flair here lads… rummage in the cupboard and throw in what you like!

Recipe should feed 3-4, but actually fed 2 greedy guts

Prep time: 15 minutes
Cook time: 45 minutes


200g arborio rice
Some chorizo (I used 3 smallish sausages)
A tin of sardines (in olive oil, preferably)
Artichoke hearts (I used about 10)
2 tomatoes, seeds removed and diced
1 brown onion, diced
3 cloves of garlic, sliced
1 roasted red pepper, diced (mine was from a jar in the back of my cupboard, but of course you can roast your own)
2 tsp paprika
800ml of stock (chicken or vegetable)
A handful of olives
A pinch of saffron (not at all essential, I had some saved for a special occasion and self-isolation seemed to be the best excuse yet)
Half a lemon, sliced length-ways into quarters
1 tbsp olive oil


Pop your oven on, to 200 degrees celcius. If using, soak your saffron in a small cup of hot water. You can give it a little stir to release all of the goodness and just sit and admire it for a few minutes. Literal luxury in a cup.

Heat a tablespoon of olive oil in a shallow casserole dish on a medium heat, and gently fry the chorizo for a few minutes. The chorizo is already cooked, so what we are doing here is stealing that beautiful orange colour and smokey flavour into the oil. After 4 minutes or so, remove the chorizo to a plate.

Throw your onion in the pan to sweat in the yummy chorizo juice, followed soon after by the sliced garlic. After 5 minutes in the pan, add in the diced red peppers and tomatoes, and sprinkle 1 tsp of paprika over the mix. Bring the heat to medium/low, and let the tomatoes breakdown to create a lovely sauce.

Pour in the saffron and the water it was stewing in, followed by the arborio rice, combining it in the tomato mix for a couple of minutes. Then add in your stock. My rice was a tad old so needed a touch more stock than I would usually use, however as a good guide, it should come halfway up the side of your pan.

Give the rice a stir, ensuring it is evenly spread over the pan and then promise to not stir again. I know, I know, this is SO HARD as it goes against all your cooking instincts. But the aim here is to create a socarrat – a light crust of rice on the top and bottom of the dish – this is the heavenly stuff you will be fighting over at the dinner table.

Lay on top the sardines, artichoke hearts, chorizo and olives (or whatever your cupboards have gifted you), and let the rice bubble away for 10 minutes on the hob on a medium heat. Then, pop it in the oven for 10-15 minutes to finish off, with the stock fully absorbed into the rice. I would pop a fork in every now and again to test the rice was ready, and you can add more stock if you think it needs more time.

Remove from the oven when you are happy and try not to immediately plant your face in it. Pop your lemon slices in the rice and scatter parsley if you have it (I didn’t), and serve from the pan – let’s see who wins the battle for the socarrat…

Yassss, thou shalt never be hangry again!

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