Paella, the new potjie

Posted on 12 July 2017

Feed a crowd from breakfast to supper with one pan plus these three recipes. Instead of lugging around with a heavy potjie pot, make paella instead. This paella recipe can feed just as many people in less than half the time and the pan to do it is thin and light, offering quick heat-transfer!

This hearty feast of chicken, chorizo and red peppers will be ready in an hour.


The pan

Whether enamel or polished steel, a paella pan is super-thin so heat transfer is quick and effective, with a big surface area for cooking sizeable quantities. Once it comes off the braai, just plonk it in the middle of the table and serve.


The peppers

Peppers are hardy veg that don’t need refrigeration, and roasting them makes use of a braai fire when it’s still too hot to cook. Just before breaking down the coals (the wood has almost completely burnt down but there is still some flame), place the whole peppers on the grid. Turn periodically until the skin is blistered and charred. Be bold! They should resemble the Sith Lord, Darth Maul. Place the peppers in a container, seal tightly and leave to cool. Peel off the skin and pull out the seeds, saving all the juices, and add to your paella or turn into a salad.


Roasted-red-pepper salad

Feeds 4
• 3 peppers, roasted, peeled and seeded (retain the juices)
• extra-virgin olive oil
• 1 garlic clove, minced
• red wine vinegar
• sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
• capers, drained (optional)

Tear the peppers into strips and toss with olive oil and garlic. Season with a little red wine vinegar, salt and pepper. Scatter with capers (if using) and serve with bread to mop up the juices for a light lunch.


Eggs in a spicy tomato sauce

Feeds 8 – 10

This is an easy tomato sauce built on garlic instead of onion.

• ¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil • 6 large garlic cloves, very finely chopped
• 2 x 390g boxes crushed tomatoes (from Woolies; lighter than tins and easier to pack)
• 2 cups water (used to rinse out any remaining tomato from the cartons)
• 1 dried red chilli, crumbled
• sea salt and black pepper
• 10 eggs
• sweet kitke rolls

1. Allow the coals to cool to a medium heat.

2. Add the oil and garlic to a cold pan (this prevents the garlic burning quickly). Place the pan on the fire and cook the garlic for a minute or two, stirring constantly.

3. As soon as it starts turning pale golden, add the tomatoes, water, chilli and a teaspoon of salt. Stir to mix through.

4. Simmer for 15 to 20 minutes, stirring regularly until it is thickened and saucy.

5. Break the eggs into the tomato sauce and season the yolks with salt and pepper.

6. Cook until the eggs are done to your liking. (You can cover the whole pan with heavy foil to cook the exposed whites and keep the yolks runny.)

7. Serve immediately with kitke rolls for mopping up the sauce.


Paella-esque rice

Feeds 8 – 10

This recipe takes full advantage of the fire at every stage. Paella purists might balk at the chorizo but it’s robust enough for travel, acts as a shortcut to flavour and lends colour if your budget can’t stretch to saffron.

• 3 red peppers
• 500g skinless, boneless chicken thighs (plus kebab skewers)
• sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
• 2 litres chicken stock (we used tetrapak boxes of organic stock from Woolworths)
• 1 sachet saffron, optional (available at Woolies)
• 225g (1 sausage) chorizo, thinly sliced
• 2 onions, finely chopped
• 2 large garlic cloves, finely chopped
• 2T extra-virgin olive oil
• 1½T smoked sweet paprika
• 390g box crushed tomatoes
• 4 cups risotto or arborio rice
• 2 bay leaves
• parsley, finely chopped
• lemon wedges

The marinade (optional)
• 2T extra-virgin olive oil
• zest of 1 lemon
• 2 sprigs rosemary, leaves picked

1. If marinating the chicken, do so overnight or a few hours ahead. Toss the chicken with the marinade ingredients and refrigerate in a sealed container.

2. Roast the peppers just before breaking down the coals. Cook and prep them as described in the salad recipe.

3. Once you have a bed of coals that are still hot, thread the chicken thighs onto skewers, season well with salt and pepper, and grill for a few minutes a side until nicely browned. (This develops colour and flavour – they’ll finish cooking in the paella.)

4. Allow the coals to cool. You’re aiming for an even, medium-high heat for 30 to 40 minutes. Heat the stock in a pot and add the saffron, if using. Keep it hot.

5. Add the chorizo slices to a cold paella pan, place on the grid and cook, stirring now and then, until the orange oil has rendered and the discs are crisp.

6. Add the onions and a teaspoon of salt and cook for about 10 minutes, stirring, until the onions are softened, reduced in size and starting to caramelise. They should be cooking at a brisk bubble.

7. Add the garlic, olive oil and paprika to the pan and cook, stirring, for a minute or so, then add the tomatoes and some water (from rinsing out the carton) and cook for a few minutes until the tomatoes are reduced and thickened.

8. Add the rice, bay leaves and roasted peppers and stir to distribute everything well. Pour in the hot stock and do not stir again. From the moment it comes back to a boil, cook for 15 minutes.

9. Slip the chicken off the skewers and place throughout the rice. Cook for another 10 minutes.

10. Remove the paella from the fire, cover with a clean dishcloth and rest for 10 minutes before serving.


Think ahead…

• Once the process starts, there’s no stopping. As with stir-fry, have every ingredient prepped and ready to go.
• Check the grid is level so the liquid stays in the pan.
• Avoid hot spots by spreading the bed of coals wide enough to cover the entire diameter of the pan.
• Start with fewer coals underneath the pan and add more if necessary to keep the right temperature.
• The pan and handles get crazy hot. Use braai gloves.


What wine?

To pronounce Rioja properly, pretend you have a furball in your throat when you get to the ‘j’. It is Spain’s most famous wine region, where Tempranillo grapes reign supreme with Garnacha (or what the French and the rest of us call Grenache) at their feet. Although the former is popping up as far afield as Argentina and Australia and the latter has been widely planted worldwide for ages (it’s the main ingredient in France’s famed Châteauneuf-du-Pape), both are as native to Spain as flamenco skirts and afternoon naps. And since we’re eating paella that’s fiery in colour and robust in flavour, you might as well be adventurous and try some vine juice that traces its roots back to the banks of the Ebro River in northern España.


What label?

The expert choice Yes, Riversdale is 300 kilometres away from the Cape Winelands and no, you’re not mad for thinking that this is an odd place for our first really competitive Tempranillo to be born. But it was and it is, and the savoury, spicy, meat-friendly Baleia Bay Tempranillo 2015 has more gold medals on its beautifully designed chest than Usain Bolt.
PS: Best served slightly chilled. R120,

The crowd-pleaser South Africa’s retailers have embraced affordable imported wine, and the Tempranillo and Garnacha grapes for WoolworthsEl Toro Spanish Red (R70) were grown in the region of Cariñena. So the party starts when everyone tries to say that properly! I get spice and cherries, you might only get a deliciously smooth red – either way, it comes in a one-litre bottle so everyone’s a winner.

The green option For most of its life in Africa, Grenache was relegated to the ‘blending’ barrel, but single varietal offerings increase every year. For an excellent, easy-drinking, 100 per cent Earth-friendly version, you can’t go wrong with Waverley Hills Grenache Noir 2016 (R125) from Tulbagh’s original organic champion.


This story first appeared in the March 2017 issue of Getaway magazine.

Get this issue →

Our March issue features a self-catering trip to the Seychelles that you can afford, a karoo secret retreat, learning to fly-fish in Rhodes and a joburg road trip for beer lovers. 


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