Wednesday 22 February 2012

Less is More!

People at the moment seem to be choosing to eat less meat. It has become a bit fashionable to concentrate more on the vegetables, hence the massive serge in celebrity chef cook books about vegetables, as they all fight to jump on the bandwagon. Admittedly Jane Grigson wrote her vegetable book a good while ago and then her daughter Sophie followed suit with her own version some years ago. Nigel Slater has been banging on about growing and cooking your own for quite a while now, but then Sarah Raven, the queen of gardnening pawn, has just published her "Garden Cookbook" and even Hugh Fernley-Whitingstall dumped his signiture meaty dishes for the veg. And mark my words, there will be a glut of more veg books to come, in the near future. 

Some of this veg revival is economical. Growing your own is de riguere right now and shame on you if you are not on an allotment waiting list. Also the price of meat is demanding a reassessment in how much and how often we can afford to eat it. The fashion is to eat better quality meat but less of it and let the vegetables take pride of place on the plate. Secondly of course there are many good health reasons to eat less meat, mainly in an aim to cut down on the dreaded saturated fats.

Apart from vegetables, other great ways of making your meat go further, is to add carbohydrate such as grains, pasta and rice. Poorer cultures have learnt out of necessity how to make a little feed more and it is to these cuisines which we should turn if we want to learn a thing or two. So I have relentlessly been researching dishes from all around the world to bring you the very best ideas in saving money, saving your health and yet still producing delicious food. I have come to the conclusion that rice is a very good place to start.

Rice is such a fantastic food. It is an excellent source of fuel for our body and easily digested so the energy it supplies becomes quickly available to our working muscles, brain and body organs. Carbohydrates fill you up and around 85% of the energy that rice supplies comes from carbohydrate. Carbohydrate powers the body and helps to keep us moving. It is stored in our muscles and liver and released when we need it. Rice does actually provide a little protein as well but it is low in fat and cholesterol free.

I am convinced that although fad diets will come and go, eating a well balance diet of mainly fruit and vegetables and carbohydrate with a less amount of protein and dairy, is and will always be, the healthiest and most sensible way to not get fat and to loose weight if you need to.

Rice is present in so many countries cuisines that you can find fantastic recipes from all over the world. One recipe which seems to turn up in several different countries alone is Arroz Con Pollo, simply meaning Chicken with Rice. I found recipes from pretty much every country which Spain ever colonised at one time or another and that is quite numerous, including Central and South America, North Africa, the Caribbean, Cuba, Puerto Rico and the Philippines. I love it when a recipe, clearly from one county, in this case Spain, turns up, almost identical, across the other side of the world in a country such as the Philippines. Why has it been passed country to country, one generation to the next? Because it has stood the test of time and it works.  

I cooked mine in the slow cooker but you can just as easily cook on the stove top.
Serves 4
4 free-range chicken thighs, skinned, boned and all excess fat and sinew removed
Olive oil 
3 good quality chorizo sausages, about 200g, cubed
3 fat cloves of garlic, crushed
2 medium onion, finely sliced

Few sticks of Celery, finely chopped
2 red peppers, cored and finely sliced
1 tablespoon of fresh thyme, finely chopped or dried oregano
2 cup water
Large pinch of Saffron
A few fresh bay leaves
2 cup uncooked paella rice (or Risotto rice)
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

Season the chicken with salt and pepper. Heat up a large heavy bottomed saucepan and add a good glug of olive oil. Add the onions and celery and fry until the onions are translucent and just turning golden brown. peppers and cook for five minutes more.  Add the chorizo, herbs and garlic and fry for a few minutes more.  Don't cook for much longer as all the fat will come out of the chorizo. Season to taste. Meanwhile, heat the cup of water in a saucepan and when boiling add the saffron.  Add a teaspoon of salt and remove from heat and allow to infuse. Add the chicken to your peppers, the saffron water and the rice.  Add your bay leaves.  Cover and cook slowly on the stove top for one hour or tip the whole lot into a slow cooker and set on low for 3 hours. 


  1. That looks great. I love rice dishes and anything with chorizo always tastes fab.

  2. Looks lovely. Just one question - what are the cup measurements?


    1. 1 cup is 237 mls so if you do not have a cup measure you can use a measuring jug. I love using a cup as it saves on having to use scales and on washing up.


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