Arroz con cerdo y espinacas (rice with pork and spinach)

By Fiona Sims

Arroz con cerdo y espinacas (rice with pork and spinach)

One of my New Year resolutions this year is to learn Spanish, the reason being my daugher-in-law comes from Menorca (though if truth be told she speaks better English than I do) and my 3 grandchildren are bi-lingual.

I’m doing a bit online each day (with an app called Babbel) and am also planning to take an immersion course (goodness knows when - the diary keeps filling up) but the best plan of all is to get together and cook Spanish food with my neighbour cookery writer Jenny Chandler who speaks fluent Spanish. (And drink Spanish wine, of course!)

This week was our first session which I must confess was better on the cooking than the speaking front though I have learnt what a pinch of saffron is (una pizca de azafrán) which I’m sure will be massively useful …

Here’s the absolutely delicious rice dish that Jenny made - a sort of rustic version of a paella which she says she picked up in Seville some 20 years ago.

Serves 3-4

5 tbsp olive oil

2 large cloves garlic, peeled and halved

175g pork fillet, sliced

2 medium onions, peeled and chopped

1 green pepper, de-seeded and chopped

Pinch of saffron

150g chorizo, diced (hot or sweet - up to you. Jenny used a great one made from Iberico pigs from Viandas Spanish deli), diced

1-2 tsp pimenton - sweet or hot, again to taste

200g bomba or other paella rice

400ml hot chicken stock + another 50ml if it needs it

a good handful of fresh spinach, stalks and leaves

Salt and freshly squeezed lemon juice to taste - but not black pepper. The Spanish just don’t use it says Jenny

Heat the oil over a moderate heat and fry the garlic until golden. Remove from the pan, turn up the heat and fry the pork slices on both sides. Set the meat aside and add the chopped onions and green pepper. Fry until soft (about 10 minutes) adding a little extra oil if needed. Add the diced chorizo and fry for another 3 minutes or so then stir in the saffron and more pimenton to taste. Stir in the rice, and the chopped spinach stalks then add the stock and bring to the boil. Lay the spinach leaves over the top, cover the pan and leave to simmer for about 15 minutes until the liquid has been absorbed and the leaves wilted. (DON’T stir. This is not a risotto). Stir through then leave the pan on a very low heat for another 5 minutes or so so a crust forms but don’t let it burn. Mash the fried garlic and stir it through then fold in the cooked pork slices and leave for 5 minutes to warm through. Squeeze over the lemon before serving.

What we drank: A couple of glasses of 2011 Ribera del Duero crianza and very nice it was too!