Untrapped: Paella and Pork in Andalucia With Jamie Oliver

By: Sara Levine

On Jamie’s Food Escapes, world-traveler Jamie Oliver uncovers the culinary specialties of gorgeous corners of the globe. Tonight, he’s onto his next location: Andalucia, a region of southern Spain. This means tapas, paella, and pig prepared every possible way. And that’s only scratching the surface.

This part of Spain is famous for their pigs, so Jamie’s making “killer pork chops” with creamy Spanish beans. He shares an easy tweak for extra flavor: Cut a little pocket in the meat and stuff it with a mash-up of raisins, herbs, salt, sherry and olive oil. He fires the chops on a tiny backyard grill until they’re nicely browned. “Ridiculous,” he says, taking a jealousy-inducing first bite. “Totally tender and juicy. No need to have tough old pork.”

The fresh vegetables around here are worth noting, too. Jamie takes a seat under an acorn tree to prepare a tomato salad topped with a dressing of warm chorizo and sherry vinegar. It’s the perfect picnic for one. Then he’s whipping up classic gazpacho with tomatoes, green peppers, cucumbers and stale bread: “Every country that I know in the world has a use for it.” The bread thickens the gazpacho and gives it extra creaminess. For an authentic Spanish touch, serve it in glasses and sip.

For a short break from all that eating and cooking, Jamie visits Spain’s oldest bull ring and trains with some young bullfighters. It doesn’t take long to work up an appetite. He heads to a nearby village to prepare paella for 500 people. “The most important thing is the pan, the flat pan,” Jamie explains. “This is probably the biggest pan I’ve ever seen.” He throws in buckets of vegetables for the sofrito, then 50 kilos of rice. “It’s mental. I’ve never done anything like this before.” After a couple of hours of cooking, about ten men help Jamie carry the massive pan to the village square, where they dish it out to the locals.

No visit to Spain is complete without jamon (ham) — and lots of it. Jamie visits world-champion Serrano cutters who show him their best stuff. “You know how you have Michelin stars? For jamon, you have acorns. The best you can get is five-acorn.” He samples top-notch, five-acorn pork and marvels at the quality of the fat: “That’s so soft. It tastes amazing.” The way jamon Serrano is cut is crucial; it has to be paper-thin. Jamie’s new friends guide him through the slicing motion, which finally clicks once he realizes: “It’s all about moving your ass.”

Catch this delicious episode on Jamie’s Food Escapes tonight at 8pm/7c., and in case you missed them, check out his previous jaunts to Venice, Athens and the French Pyrenees.

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