Coal-fired Paella


Dig out the barbecue and a five-year-old bag of instant lighting charcoal. Clean the grill of last year’s mouldy burger grease. Light up the charcoal and watch with embarrassment as the smoke engulfs the neighbours’ clothes they hung out to dry earlier. As your neighbours grudgingly take their clothes in off the line, prepare all the ingredients. Thirty minutes later the coals are hot and you’re ready to start cooking.

On the barbie, heat 8 tablespoons of olive oil in a paella pan or terra cotta cazuela (that’s what I used). Add one onion, one red pepper and one chilli of your choice (I use a jalapeño), all finely chopped, and as much minced garlic as you like. Cook for 8 minutes till the onions are translucent.


Add one small butternut squash, chopped into 1/2 inch dice and one pack of serrano ham slices, cut into small pieces. Cook for a few minutes.


Add two finely chopped tomatoes, two cups of chopped mushrooms and a bunch of chopped kale. Mix together.

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Add the spices – one tablespoon of smoked paprika, one teaspoon of ground cumin, one teaspoon of dried thyme and a few good twists of salt and pepper.


Pour in three cups of arborio or basmati rice. Mix well with the other ingredients.


Add four cups of hot chicken or vegetable stock, mixed with the liquid of one tin of chickpeas and a pinch of saffron.


Bring to a boil and add the drained chickpeas. Cook until the paella is not so soupy and then cover with the barbecue lid until the rice is cooked, about 15 to 20 minutes.


That’s it. Enjoy.