Paella Valenciana

  Paella is a rice dish from Valencia and a symbol of Valencian cuisine and culture. For this recipe, Valencian vegetables, meats and rice are cooked in the traditional style to recreate authentic Paella.

Chicken and rabbit are used in Paella Valenciana but these can be replaced with other ingredients to make different traditional versions of Paella. Use langoustines, monkfish, shrimp, mussels and squid to make Seafood Paella, artichokes, peas, peppers and extra beans to make Vegetable Paella, and keep the chicken but replace the rabbit with langoustines, mussels, shrimp and extra beans to make Mixed Paella. You can also add traditional ingredients like Tabella white beans and edible snails (such as Valencian Vaquettes) to any of these Paellas.

Preparation time: 5 minutesCooking time: 50-60 minutes
Serves: 8Difficulty: Moderate

Ingredients

  • 200ml/2 dl/1 1/3 pt/just under a cup of extra virgin olive oil
  • 20g/2/3oz/just over 3 tsp of salt
  • 500g/18oz/4 cups of chicken legs and thighs
  • 500g/18oz/about 8 rabbit legs and/or ribs
  • 400g/14oz/2 2/3 cups of Ferradura (or flat green beans)
  • 250g/9oz/3 cups of Garrofó beans (lima beans or butter beans)
  • 200g/7oz/1 cup of tomatoes (preferably striped tomatoes)
  • 1 1/2 tbsp Pimentó (paprika, preferably smoked paprika) (optional)
  • 2ltrs/20 dl/3 1/2 pt/8 cups of boiling hot water
  • 1/4 tsp saffron
  • 2 sprigs of fresh rosemary (optional)
  • 500g/18oz/2 1/2 cups of round grain rice, preferably bomba or senia

Make it vegan: replace the chicken and rabbit with a meat substitute like tempeh or Quorn chicken. Alternatively, get rid of the meat entirely and make a traditional Vegetable Paella with artichokes, peppers and extra beans.

Special Equipment

  • A 30-40cm Paella pan- I wouldn’t substitute a Paella with a different pan as the effect won’t be the same
  • A gas hob (or wood fire and tripod)- paella pans are usually not suitable for electric hobs
  • A cheese grater

Instructions

  1. Wash the Ferradura and Garrofó beans and the tomatoes. Chop the Ferradura into small chunks and manually grate or chop the tomatoes, and cut the chicken and rabbit (or meat substitutes) into large chunks.
  2. Light the hob (or wood fire) and set the flames to very low. Place the paella pan over the flames, making sure the centre of the pan is directly over the fire. Pour in the oil. After a minute or two raise the temperature of the flames to low.
  3. Add the salt, chicken and rabbit (or meat substitute) to the centre of the pan and fry them until the meats are nicely browned but not thoroughly cooked. Then move them to the edges of the pan so they are away from the heat. 
  4. Add the Ferradura and Garrofó beans to the centre of the pan and fry them for a couple of minutes without burning them, then move them to the edges of the pan. Then add the tomatoes to the centre and fry them for a few minutes, until the tomato juice has evaporated. Move them to the edges of the pan and add the Pimentó to the centre of the pan and fry it for a few minutes.
  5. Bring the flame temperature up to high and fill the pan with boiling hot water. From this point onward, don’t stir or move the contents of the pan around at all. Wait until the water starts boiling rapidly in the pan and then add the saffron.
  6. Allow the water to continue boiling rapidly until a quarter of it has evaporated, then pour the rice into the centre of the pan and add the rosemary.
  7. Allow the contents of the pan to continue boiling for about eight minutes. When you can see the rice, fish out the rosemary sprigs and remove them from the pan, then reduce the flames to medium.
  8. Continue cooking for about eight more minutes. When the water is mostly gone, bring the flames back up to high and cook for a further two minutes, so you get a nice socarrat– the tasty, crunchy rice at the bottom of the pan.  
  9. Remove the pan from the flames and leave it to rest for five to ten minutes. If the rice isn’t quite cooked, cover the pan with aluminium foil while its resting.
  10. To serve, set down the Paella and sit around it. Eat it straight from the pan with spoons.
  11. Buen provecho!

Tips

  • Don’t stir the paella once the water has been added to the pan
  • If you aren’t able to cook the Paella over a wood fire, use smoked paprika in the dish to recreate Paella’s traditional smokey flavour and aroma
  • Only use round, Spanish rice, preferably senia or bomba
  • When it’s ready to serve, the Paella should be eaten straight out of the pan and not dished into seperate serving dishes
Traditionally cooked paella in Valencia
Jan Harenburg, Paella hirviendo, 2009 <https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Paella_hirviendo.jpg&gt; [accessed 01/07/2020] (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/deed.en)

Background

It’s pronounced: /paɪˈ(j)ɛlə/ (pae-el-lah)

It’s from: Valencia, Spain

It’s related to: Fideuà (Valencia),  Arròs Negre (Valencia, Catalunia), Arroz a la Valenciana (Philippines and Latin America), Risotto (Italy)

Valencia Cathedral
Felivet, Plaça maededéu1, 2008 <https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Pla%C3%A7a_maeded%C3%A9u1.jpg&gt; [Accessed 01/07/2020]

Background

Valencian rice farming has a long history. Irrigation was introduced to the region by the ancient Romans, which facilitated local agriculture. So when, centuries later, the Moors imported rice to Valencia, they found the local area was suitable for cultivating it. By the time of the Reconquista, there were thousands of hectares of rice fields around Valencia, and rice was fast becoming a staple food across the Iberian Peninsula.

According to legend, Paella originated as a dish eaten by the Moors’ servants, who would take leftover rice from their kitchens and mix it with whatever vegetables they had to hand. The dish continued to develop after the Reconquista, when Valencians would cook rice in earthenware pots with locally sourced eels, meats and vegetables and imported saffron. Later, during the Industrial Revolution, metal pans became more affordable and popular and vegetables and meats became more readily available. As a result, Valencian farm workers could bring hardy metal pans with them to the fields and were able to prepare a communal rice dish for lunch, into which they would throw whatever vegetables, edible snails and meats they had to hand. As the 19th century progressed, the increasingly wealthy urban Valencians were able to holiday in the countryside, where they found they enjoyed the rice prepared by the local field workers. The urban Valencians spruced it up with spices and brought it to the city with them. This glamorous rustic dish was named Paella, after the metal pan it was cooked in.

  Valencian paella was popularized across Spain in the 20th century under Franco, who was purportedly very fond of the dish and wanted to eat it wherever he went. Though internationally Paella is associated with Spanish culture as a whole, in Spain itself it is considered to be specifically part of Valencian culture and cuisine, and sites like WikiPaella and PaellaBible have been founded to help preserve authentic Valencian Paella.

2 thoughts on “Paella Valenciana

  1. We’ve been looking for a paella recipe to add to our cookbook. We’re meat-free here, so thank you for including a vegetable version. We look forward to trying this!

    Liked by 1 person

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