Oven-baked Paella

I am a linguist at heart. I advocate using big and complex words with children with smaller words to explain their meaning. This means that my children, Seb in particular, will often come out with some rather grown up sounding phrases and sometimes in completely the wrong context! I am also that mum who will speak to her children in Spanish as I want to broaden their horizons. Unfortunately with everything they seem to want to do and learn,  formal instruction is lacking (I do seem to take a rather haphazard approach with it), but all the children do understand certain instructions in Spanish.

Owing to my half-hearted attempt to teach my little people Spanish, I pounced on the paella rice in the supermarket when I found it. I normally grab risotto rice on autopilot as going to the supermarket without any ‘help’ is a luxury! I tend to walk around the supermarket revelling in my child-free status and barely looking at the shelves, just grabbing the usual. My hope was that the rice would reignite my efforts to immerse my kids in Spanish and provide them with a yummy, hands on and stress-free dinner. Stress-free because rice is a universally accepted carbohydrate in our house and doesn’t elicit the horrible reaction that certain forms of potato produce.

The paella rice got me thinking and made me eager to experiment with an oven-baked recipe to get the kids fully involved. In addition, I thought this dish’s sunny colour as well as the different types of meat and fish would make this an attractive meal that they would be eager to eat. I know using the oven does not create an authentic paella, but the traditional flavour and colour were both present and as an added bonus everyone cleared their plates. The latter in particular makes this dish a winner in my book.

Ingredients

Makes 4 adult portions

  • 300g paella rice
  • 1 litre water
  • 2 chicken stock cubes (opt for low salt for young children)
  • 1tsp turmeric
  • 100g chorizo
  • 100g small prawns
  • 300g fish pie mix
  • 300g chicken pieces
  • 100g frozen peas
  • 100g frozen sweetcorn
  • Seasoning

If you are doing this recipe with children over 4, you may want to let them have a go at chopping the chorizo, chicken and fish with supervision and help as required. Otherwise, you can chop in advance for them or buy  pre-chopped. With the chorizo you could buy slices and have the children tear it up instead. If you are using stock pots rather than stock cubes it is easier to make them dissolve with boiling water so your children may require help pouring it in. If you are using stock cubes they can crumble them into cold water.

Method

  1. Preheat the oven to 170°c fan.
  2. Chop the chorizo, chicken and fish if needed.
  3. Put the rice in a large ovenproof dish and crumble in the stock cubes and add the turmeric.
  4. Add the water and mix.
  5. Add the chorizo, chicken, fish pie mix and small prawns and mix well.
  6. Add the frozen vegetables and mix.
  7. Season well.
  8. Cover and adult place in the oven and cook for 40-50 minutes (stirring halfway through) until the rice and all the meat and fish are fully cooked.

The kids had big smiles when this came out of the oven and as it is the summer holiday their dad was around to enjoy it with them. The kids had lots of fun pointing out all the different elements form the dish that they were eating  and Atticus even managed a second portion. Cue me doing a crazy dance around the kitchen in celebration when everyone had left the table!

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