Paella and surviving the Gourmandistan cookbook gauntlet

Hundreds, if not thousands, of cookbooks have seen their way in and out of Gourmandistan. The kitchen’s multiple shelves are nearly full, even though scores upon scores of volumes have been given away to friends and charities over the years and at least 50 others currently sit in an upstairs bookshelf purgatory, waiting for a decision on whether they stay or go. (We’re looking at you, Lee Brothers.) Gourmandistan’s general cookbook-keeping metric is simple: to keep a place in our house, a cookbook must have at least two recipes that we want to make more than once.  Moro: The Cookbook easily passed that test.

We’re a little late to the Sam and Sam Clark fan club, never having been to London, much less to the Clarks’ restaurant, judged best in Britain in 2009.  This cookbook, the first of the couple’s trilogy (Casa Moro: The Second Cookbook and Moro East followed), was published a decade ago. But in the month or so that we’ve had it, Moro has seen quite a bit of use.

Celebrating the cooking of Spain and the Muslim Mediterranean, the volume’s Spanish dishes really reeled us in. Cauliflower with saffron, pine nuts and raisins was, in Michelle’s opinion, one of the best uses of the pale brassica she’s ever tasted.  Patatas a lo pobre (poor man’s potatoes) made a simple dish rich with olive oil, peppers and garlic.

And a recent brunch of sopa de ajo (garlic soup with chorizo and poached egg) launched a go-to recipe for the foreseeable future.

As for the paella recipes (one of the main reasons Michelle bought the book in the first place), we mixed a couple of different ones together and came up with a chicken-y, chorizo-laced version of our own that we think the Clarks would approve of. While we may not see Spain (or London) for a while, we certainly think Moro’s taste of it will stay on our shelves for quite a spell.


(inspired by Samuel and Samantha Clarks’ Moro: The Cookbook) (serves 4-6)

  • 6 TB olive oil
  • 2 large chicken breasts, boned, skinned and cut into 1″ cubes
  • 2 large onions, chopped
  • 1 red pepper, seeded and diced
  • 3 oz. Spanish chorizo sausage, in small dice
  • 6 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 1 heaping cup rice (we used La Preferida fancy pearl rice; the Clarks call for calasparra)
  • 2/3 c. dry sherry
  • 3-1/2 c. hot chicken stock
  • 1 small bunch parsley, chopped
  • pinch nutmeg
  • 1 c. frozen peas
  • 1/2 lemon
  • sea salt & black pepper

Heat a paella pan or large frying pan over medium to high heat.  Add 2 TB olive oil.  When hot, fry chicken pieces for approximately 2 minutes, until done on outside but still rare in middle.  Remove chicken from pan with a slotted spoon and set aside.

Add remaining 4 TB olive oil, then onions and red pepper.  Cook over medium heat until softened, about 15 minutes.  Add chorizo.  Cook about 5 minutes more, until chorizo is starting to brown.  Add garlic.  Cook about 5 minutes more, stirring occasionally.

Stir in rice.  Toss rice in oil and vegetables for a minute or so.

Turn heat up to high and add sherry.  Cook off the alcohol for a minute or so, then add stock.  Bring to a gentle boil.  Add half of the parsley and nutmeg.  Turn down heat and simmer for about 10 minutes.

Return chicken to pan, distributing evenly over the rice and pushing down into the liquid.  Turn heat down to low.  Cook until liquid is mostly absorbed, stirring occasionally.  (If necessary, add more stock.) Near end of cooking, add peas.  Stir occasionally for a minute or so, then turn off heat and cover tightly with foil.  Let rest for 5 minutes.  Taste for seasoning, adding salt and pepper.  Sprinkle remaining parsley over and squeeze lemon juice over.



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