Nick Zairn's prawn paelle

Packed with succulent prawns, chorizo and mussels, this is a great dish for a family feast

Ingredients (Serves 6 as a main course)

  • 450g/1lb live mussels
  • 175ml/6fl oz dry white wine
  • 6 tbsp good olive oil
  • 175g/6oz chorizo sausage, cut into chunks or rounds
  • 2 cloves garlic, peeled and finely chopped
  • 1 large Spanish onion, peeled and finely chopped
  • 1 large red pepper, deseeded and diced
  • 450g/1lb Spanish paella rice or Italian Arborio rice
  • Good pinch of dried red chilli flakes
  • 2 tsp sweet paprika (fresh, not smoked)
  • 1.1ltr/2pt fish stock (see below)
  • Large pinch of saffron soaked for 10 minutes in 3 tbsp hot water
  • 12 small ripe tomatoes, halved
  • 100g/4oz fresh or frozen peas
  • 18 large raw tiger prawns, in their shells, heads on
  • 4 tbsp chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
  • Lemon wedges to serve

Begin by preparing the mussels. Give any open mussels a sharp tap with the back of a knife and discard any that fail to close up, then pull off the beards. Place them in a bowl and fill with cold, fresh water. Scrub them well between your hands then drain the dirty water out. Re-fill with clean water and scrub again. Repeat this process until no more debris comes off. When the water runs clear, lift out the mussels into a colander set over a bowl (don’t pour them in as you may pour in debris as well). Leave to drain.

Choose a pan with a tightfitting lid. Lift in the mussels, add the wine, cover with the lid and cook over a high heat until the lid starts jumping, giving the pan a few shakes now and then to make sure the mussels are cooking evenly. Remove from the heat and check if the mussels have all opened – if not, cook for a few seconds longer. The whole process shouldn’t take more than 4-5 minutes or you’ll end up with overcooked mussels. Strain in a colander set over a bowl and discard any that haven’t opened.

Cool and reserve both the mussels and cooking liquid. To remove any grit from the liquid, strain through a fine sieve lined with muslin or a coffee filter.

Heat the olive oil in a paella pan or large deep frying pan. Add the chorizo and lightly brown all over, turning frequently. Stir in the garlic, onion and pepper and cook for about 5 minutes until softened, then stir in the rice until all the grains are coated and glossy.

Add the chilli flakes, paprika, fish stock, soaked saffron and reserved cooking liquid. Stir well, bring to the boil and simmer gently for 15 minutes, without stirring.

Stir in the tomatoes, peas and prawns and continue to cook gently for another 5 minutes, again without stirring.

Once almost all the liquid has been absorbed and the rice is tender, scatter the mussels on top to heat through for 2-3 minutes, then scatter over the chopped parsley. Cover and leave to stand for 2-3 minutes then serve straight from the pan with lemon wedges on the side to squeeze over.