Classic Paella Valenciana
This is a classic recipe for a delicious Valencian Paella. Traditionally, it is served for lunch. If you can, use Bomba, Calasparra or other paella rice which is traditionally used to make paella. It is a short grain, low starch rice that is excellent for absorption of the flavours and moisture of the recipe and these properties make it different to regular or Arborio rice.
Always trying to eat seasonally, we are using green beans that are in season here in Sydney, Lima beans and fresh tomatoes. Traditionally pieces of rabbit, duck or chicken are used but as rabbit is not easily available here I have chosen to use chicken. Thigh cuts and short cut wings with the bone will give great flavour to the cooking stock we are creating. (Here I have used tenderloins which I had in the fridge but this cut is a little dry, though they were delicious nonetheless.
The essential element is the water to rice ratio. Paella rice will need 3 cups of water to 1 cup of rice. Maintaining this ratio before adding the rice is paramount as this is essentially an absorption method of cooking the rice.
If prepared properly the paella will form a layer of toasted rice on the bottom of the pan called socarat, that is considered to be essential to a successful paella.
I like to garnish my paella with the marinaded artichoke hearts and the traditional fresh lemon juice. Artichoke hearts can also be used to make the paella when green beans are not in season.
- Olive oil. About 3 tablespoon, depending on the size of your pan. use just enough to barely cover the bottom of your fry pan
- 2-3 pieces of chicken pieces per person, seasoned with salt
- 5 green beans per person, topped and tailed and sliced in half diagonally
- 5 Lima beans (soaked overnight and cooked or canned) per person, or other large white beans like butter beans
- 1 Tblsp sweet paprika
- 100 g Calasparra rice (or another paella rice) – per person
- A pinch of medium saffron threads, about 10 – 15 or 1/2 tsp tumeric if you have no saffron
- 300 ml boiling water per person
- 1 large fresh plum tomato, halved across , seeded and grated
- A sprig of rosemary
- Artichokes hearts marinaded in olive oil for a garnish when serving
- Lemon wedges for serving
- Place the threads of saffron in a 1/4 cup of boiling water and steep while preparing the paella. We will be using the liquid during the cooking
- Cut the tomato in half across and remove any seeds and grate on a box grater, discarding the peel when finished.
- Using a paella pan, or a large heavy based, shallow frying pan, heat the olive oil on high, so it barely covers the bottom of the pan
- When the oil is hot add the chicken and brown well
- Add the beans and stir through and cook for a moment or two
- Push aside the chicken and beans and add the paprika to the oil on the bottom of the fry pan and cook quickly for only 30 seconds to release its flavour. Cooking the paprika too long will turn it bitter
- Then add the grated tomato over the paprika to cool it down, stir it through the paprika and stir both through the chicken and beans quickly
- Add the water and stir everything together
- Using the handle of a wooden spoon mark the depth of the liquid in the pan. Alternately use the rivets for the handle for a guide to the depth. This will mark how much liquid is needed for the rice to cook properly
- With the setting still on high, cook for 30 minutes uncovered
- If the liquid boils down replenish with boiling water as needed but always to no more than the original depth
- After the 30 minute cooking time, remove the saffron threads from the soaking water and add the water to the pan
- Then season with two good pinches of salt. Taste the liquid from the bubbles and adjust the seasoning to taste
Now add the rice ( traditionally it is added by pouring it, making a cross across the fry pan) and shake the pan slightly to spread the rice over the base of the frying pan, making sure that it is fully covered by the stock we have made
- Cook on high, for 7 minutes. Do not cover the pan and do not stir the rice during the cooking.
- Lower the heat to the lowest setting and simmer for a further 5 minutes, still uncovered
- Place a sprig of rosemary on the rice and cover with a cloth.
- Continue cooking on the lowest setting for a further 3 minutes
- Then remove the fry pan from the stove and set aside to rest, still covered for 5 minutes
- Traditionally the paella is served from the paella pan at the table, with guests serving themselves in a convivial way. You may try this if you have a paella pan. A great way to bring family and friends together. Serve with lemon wedges to squeeze over the paella. I also like to serve some marinaded artichoke hearts with my paella
Serve with wedges of lemon.