Paella is a dish that originated in the region of Valencia, Spain and it is a typical dish of the Spanish mediterranean cuisine. If you travel to northern regions in Spain such as for example, Galicia, you will notice that Paella is not as popular.
However, Paella is possibly the most famous dish of Spanish gastronomy outside Spain.
The origins of this dish are quite humble and the typical “Valencian” Paella is cooked with chicken, rabbit and garden vegetables.
It is best to cook it with firewood but you can also cook it with gas.
Nowadays, there are many versions of this rice dish, the two other well-known versions are “Seafood Paella” and “Mixed Paella”.
Paella de marisco ( Seafood Paella) has seafood instead of meat and no green vegetables or beans.
Paella Mixta, on the other hand, combines seafood, meat, vegetables and beans.
In this article, I will focus on the ingredients and preparation of the traditional “Valencian Paella” (Paella Valenciana).
The preparation is pretty much the same for all varieties as this is above all a rice dish. One important thing to remember when cooking paella is never to stir the rice. Paella is not a risotto and your rice should be tender, not creamy.
Also, never put the fire too high or strong as the water will evaporate quickly and the rice will end up raw.
To cook a good paella you need a “paella pan”, it is wide and shallow and it has a lot of surface that allows the stock to evaporate.
For 4 people, you would need a paella pan size of around 50 cm in diameter.
Valencian Paella Recipe Ingredients (4 people)
1 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/2 k chicken cut into pieces
1/2k rabbit cut into pieces
1 or 2 ripe tomatoes (Grate them manually and throw the skin away)
1 tablespoon of sweet paprika
200 grams of Ferradura (green beans)
200 grams of Garrofón (big white lima beans)
Pinch of Safron soaked into 1tbsp hot water
1 litre of water (at least double the amount of rice)
500 grams of rice (Short grain rice, ideally Spanish bomba -Arroz Calasparra- but if you cannot find it, make sure it is round and short rice for sure)
1/2 lemon cut into wedges
It’s also common to add snails, artichokes and even duck to the traditional Valencian paella, this will be up to you.
Preparation of Valencian Paella
Heat up the olive oil in the middle of the paella pan, the amount depends on the amount of meat to fry and whether you like it oily or not.
The heat should be right in the middle of the pan
Sauté the chicken until it is golden in colour. We add the chicken before the rabbit as the chicken takes longer to cook. Ensure the meat is done as this will also add flavour to the broth
Move the chicken to the sides of the pan before adding the rabbit . The rabbit will cook in the middle of the paella. Cook it till it is golden and never let it burn.
Once the meat is done and brown, we move it to the sides of the pan keeping the fire only in the middle so that the meat no longer cooks.
Now, we add the green beans to the center of the pan. Fry for several minutes in the meat juice until a smooth sauté begins to form.
Just like we did before, when we moved the meat to the sides, we now move the cooked veggies to the side and cook the grated natural tomato in the middle of the pan.
Tomato is done once the water evaporates completely.
Over a low heat, gently stir all the paella ingredients to mix them.
Just before we add water to our paella, we add one tablespoon of paprika and quickly stir one more time making sure the paprika doesn’t burn.
Once we add the paprika, we next add the water. When the water starts boiling, add salt.
Let it reduce at high heat for about 15 to 20 minutes in order to get the broth.Then we add the rice.
Before adding the rice, add the Safron.
Then spread the rice evenly across the pan.When you add the rice , you can do a cross and then spread all over the paella pan. Once in its place, do not stir the rice.
The rice will take about 20 minutes to cook, it must absorb all the paella broth.
Keep it on high heat for 5 minutes, then once you start seeing the rice, reduce to medium heat for 10 minutes and the last 5 minutes depending on how much broth needs to be absorbed , keep reducing the heat.
The paella is cooked when the liquid has evaporated but the mixture is not completely dry.
If you wish, you can add the rosemary in the final 7 minutes.Finally, always let it rest a few minutes before serving. If you think the rice is not cooked enough, cover it for 5 minutes with aluminium foil or a cloth.