Acclaimed chef José Pizarro brings a Spanish seafood celebration to our tables this New Year’s Eve

By Rebecca Hopkins | 24 Dec 2021 | Indulge

If you’re staying in this year, here’s how to have a festive and delicious evening

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Wherever we fall on the ‘to go out or not to go out’ side of the fence that the last couple of weeks has brought upon us, we can all agree that no New Year’s Eve is complete without a celebratory feast. 

For those of us feeling more cautious about attending larger gatherings, or who, regardless of the state of the world, would trade in venturing out for a cosy dinner chez moi, José Pizarro - widely regarded as the godfather of Spanish cooking in the UK - has us well and truly covered. 

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The New Years Eve menu, created by José and his talented team and couriered by Dishpatch, which delivers ‘finish at home’ meal kits from the country’s best chefs to our doorsteps, is a celebration of seafood (widely believed to be a lucky New Years Eve food because fishs scales resemble coins, and they swim in schools, which invokes the idea of abundance).

And abundance is exactly what you get here: more than just ‘a meal’, it feels more like a gastronomic journey to take you through a long and celebratory evening. The excitement begins in opening up the box, impressively packed with real wool for insulation, and unpacking one by one each delicious element, complete with step by step instructions for heating and preparation, and even a beautiful terracotta dish in which to cook the arroz caldoso

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Despite the minimal amounts of work and time required to get everything ready and onto the table, Pizarro’s feast lends itself perfectly to an elongated evening spent over several delicious courses that can either be enjoyed served one by one, or spread across the table at once in a sharing style, inviting you to tuck into each dish at your own pace.

We opted for drawing out the process as much as possible (and if you are staying up until midnight on the 31st, you really may as well!), starting by cracking open a cold bottle of Cava and tucking into the house-marinated olives along with mouthwatering slices of traditionally carved Cinco Jotas Shoulder Ham (available from José’s online shop). 

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Next up was the tapas course, featuring utterly mouthwatering salt cod croquetas, mussels escabeche – plump mussels from the north of Spain, marinated in olive oil, vinegar, herbs and spices - and an empanada gallegaa traditional Galician dish, made with paprika-spiked pastry filled with sweet, confit onions, roasted red peppers and Ortiz bonito tuna.

Following our tapas, we topped up our glasses and headed back to the stove where it was time to get going on the main event. José’s show-stopping arroz caldoso centrepiece is truly a labour of love. Arroz caldoso means rice in broth or soup”, explains José, so we start by making a stock with Spanish red prawns, onions, garlic, tomato and white wine, which we simmer for hours until intense in flavour.” This is later used to cook the rice, along with slow-cooked, confit onions, before red prawn tails, Cornish monkfish and white wild prawns are added.

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The final touch is the picada: an intensely flavourful paste made of blitzed pine nuts, parsley, garlic, olive oil and a flavour-packed prawn emulsion made using the heads of the red prawns. This is stirred into the rice and broth at the last minute, before being served with much aplomb in the traditional terracotta dish, with each delicious last drop mopped up by hunks of sourdough.

Having eaten and drunk to our heart’s content and feeling thoroughly continental, we finished off by tucking into the final treat of the evening: irresistible cocoa-dusted, dark chocolate truffles - ’tis the season, after all. With its exquisite and totally authentic flavours (we would of course expect no less from JP), its abundance and festive feel, this truly feels like the perfect way to sign off 2021 and ring in a brand new year.