Who says paella has to be made with chicken or seafood? Shake up your midweek meals routine with this quick and easy WELSH LAMB Paella!
Discovering Welsh Lamb
A few weeks ago, I was invited on a fabulous foodie trip to Wales, as a guest of PGI Welsh Lamb, to discover just what makes Welsh lamb so special.
Our trip kicked off with a trip to a local butcher, Hugh Phillips, where we watched Dai – a butcher of 15 years’ experience – expertly turn a lamb carcass into a whole multitude of different cuts.
Our next stop was a sheep farm on the Gower peninsula – Gower Salt Marsh Lamb. These sheep are free to roam on 1000 acres of salt marsh – you can’t get much more free range than that! Thanks to their diet of grass, heather and herbs, salt marsh lamb is uniquely tender and flavoursome – applauded by top chefs and restaurateurs alike.
Finally, we headed for the award-winning Beach House Restaurant in Oxwich, where Head Chef Hywel Griffith gave us a Welsh lamb cookery masterclass, featuring roasted loin of lamb with a laverbread sauce and lamb faggots – both were INCREDIBLE (yep, those faggots taste a heck of a lot nicer than they sound!)
We were then treated to a 4 course tasting menu showcasing Welsh lamb and local produce. All 4 courses were gorgeous, but it was the second lamb dish, featuring both slow-cooked loin of lamb and shredded, then deep fried lamb breast, that stole my heart.
So why is Welsh Lamb so special?
The first reason is of course the abundant RAIN! Lots of rain produces lots of great grass, which the lambs can freely graze on. And then, of course, there’s the heritage – the quality of Welsh lamb is the result of 400 plus years of sheep farming experience. This non-intensive, traditional approach to sheep farming results in succulent, sweet and tender meat, which is rich in iron, omega 3 and protein.
And the best news? It’s available NOW! In the UK we usually associate Lamb with Easter, but actually Welsh lamb (and indeed most of our home-grown lamb) is at its best from August to October. Welsh lamb is now widely available, both in supermarkets and your local butchers. (I recommend the latter for more variety of cuts and great advice on how to prepare and cook it! For an initial list of where to buy go to the Welsh Lamb Butchers’ Club.)
Easy Lamb Paella
I am delighted to be one of PGI Welsh Lamb’s Lambassadors this season supporting their #LoveWelshLamb campaign.
As part of my lambassadorial role, the folks at PGI Welsh Lamb asked me to develop a recipe inspired by my trip. I was very struck by the idea that Welsh lamb is at its best in August – yet most of the dishes we naturally associate with lamb (roast dinners, hotpots, stews etc.) are very much winter food. I wanted to create a dish that showcased this gorgeous meat but also screamed SUMMER!
…and what could be more summery than a paella? For many of us paella brings back happy memories of summer holidays. Although, of course, most paellas feature some combination of chicken, chorizo and seafood… the flavours of a paella: smoked paprika, saffron, chilli and garlic are a great match with lamb too!
This gorgeous Lamb Paella is quick and easy to make – just 40 minutes from start to finish. It’s easily doable on a busy midweek evening, but delicious enough for the weekend too!
And this easy peasy paella recipe uses one of my favourite cuts of lamb – lamb leg steaks, which can be pan fried in under 5 minutes (a little longer if you prefer well done) and simply served with seasonal vegetables… or used in this Lamb Paella…
I start by frying up the lamb leg steaks in my griddle pan (though you can just use a normal frying pan if you don’t have a griddle pan). I then leave the leg steaks to rest for 10 minutes while I get on with making the rest of the paella. Once rested, I chop up the lamb into small pieces and toss back into the paella just before serving.
You could dice the lamb before cooking, but I think pan frying the steaks whole, then resting them, results in more tender pieces of lamb with a better flavour – really showcasing the tenderness and succulence of Welsh lamb.
And there’s no need to use a proper paella pan (unless you happen to have one, already – or really want an excuse to buy one!) any large frying pan will do the job.
What to drink with Lamb Paella?
Both lamb and paella go exceptionally well with Rioja, so that would be my first choice – probably a Rioja Crianza for preference. Alternatively, a Garnacha or Tempranillo from another part of Spain would also work well here. I definitely wouldn’t recommend white wine with this dish, but at a push a Garnacha-based rosé (rosado) could work.
Need more Welsh Lamb inspo?
…check out these delicious Welsh Lamb recipes from other bloggers on the trip:
Welsh Lamb Paella
- Salt and pepper
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 4 Welsh lamb leg steaks (roughly 600g/1¼lbs)
- 2 litres hot lamb stock (I used 1 Knorr lamb stock cube)
- Pinch saffron
- 1 onion sliced
- 1 red pepper sliced
- 3 cloves garlic crushed or grated
- ½ to 1 teaspoon dried chilli flakes (or to taste)
- 3 teaspoons smoked paprika
- 2 medium tomatoes roughly chopped
- 300 g paella rice
- 100 g frozen peas
- 2 lemons cut into quarters
- 2 tablespoons chopped parsley (plus extra for garnish)
- Place a griddle pan over a high heat and heat until smoking hot. Meanwhile drizzle 1 tablespoon of the olive oil over the lamb steaks and season well with salt and pepper. Rub the oil and seasoning into both sides.
- Place the lamb straight into the hot pan for 1 minute each side. Turn the heat down and cook for a further 1 minute each side (for medium-raror 2 more minutes each side (for well done). Remove the lamb leg steaks from the pan and rest for 10 minutes.
- Add the saffron to the hot lamb stock, stir thoroughly and set aside.
- Place the remaining 1 tablespoon of olive oil in a large, wide frying pan and add the onion and red pepper. Cover with a lid and cook over a gentle heat for 3 minutes, stirring occasionally.
- Remove the lid, turn down the heat and add the garlic, chilli and paprika. Cook for 1 more minute, stirring frequently
- Add the tomatoes, paella rice and lamb stock, plus a little black pepper (to taste). Bring to the boil, then turn down and simmer for 15 minutes, with the lid off.
- When the lamb has rested for 10 minutes, chop into bite-sized pieces
- After the paella has been cooking for 15 minutes, add the frozen peas and lamb pieces to the paella and cook for a further 3 minutes. By this time all the stock should have all been absorbed and the peas should be just cooked.
- Finally stir in the juice from 2 of the lemon quarters and the chopped parsley. Serve scattered with more parsley and with the remaining lemon quarters.
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