Paella, which is now an international deliciousness, originated in Spain, more specifically in Valencia. The recipe quickly spread to the rest of the country regions where rice was cultivated, adopting different characteristics in the process. Even though Valencia is well-known because of its beaches and amazing seafood industry, the original paella didn’t have seafood. Yes, you read it right. This preparation started in the fields, as the typical meal of laborers and farmers, who had to prepare their lunch with whatever they could find around. This explains why paella has so many versions. However, the basic recipe is quite simple: rice, some beans and some meat.
A dish that tastes better in the correct pan
If you are wondering where the name came from, paella is actually the name of the pan in which paella is made. Confusing, isn’t it? To help you a bit, let’s use another way, also valid, for referring to this utensil: paellera. This is a flat shallow pan which is perfect for cooking rice. You may use a regular pan with some depth but the truth is it won’t be the same. The heat distributes differently in a paellera and the material contributes a lot to this characteristic since they are typically made of carbon steel or stainless steel. Certainly, buying one it’s a good idea!
It is said that there are as many recipes as Spanish citizens, so let your creativity fly away and substitute the ingredients for versions of your preference. This is one of those preparations that truly allow you to experiment. Remember, as long as you respect the triad (rice, beans and meat) you will be making a paella recipe!
Think outside the box!
Ingredients (4 servings):
- 1 lb of rabbit meat, cut into small chunks.
- 2 pounds chicken, cut into pieces.
- 4 garlic cloves.
- 4 cups chicken stock, approximately.
- 1 cup artichoke hearts.
- ½ cup butter beans.
- 1 tomato, peeled.
- 2 cups Arborio rice or any other medium-grain rice, approximately.
- 2 tbsp olive oil.
- 1 pinch saffron.
- 1 pinch dried rosemary.
- 1 tsp paprika.
- Salt and pepper, to taste.
- Put the paellera over medium heat with 1 tablespoon of olive oil. When ready season chunks of rabbit and chicken Place everything in the paellera and brown the meat on both sides. This step is crucial, since it avoids the meat from being simply boiled and becoming tasteless. Remove from the paellera and reserve.
- Crush garlic cloves and sauté. Add the artichoke hearts, tomato and butter beans. Season with saffron, dried rosemary and paprika. Stir well for a few minutes.
- Now add the rabbit and chicken. Mix all the ingredients and pour stock almost to the top, paying attention to how much you’re adding. Season to taste and bring to a boil.
- The amount of rice you will use depends on how much water you added on the previous step. Remember that rice usually requires twice the quantity of water, so if you notice that your paellera was full with two cups, you will add 1 cup of rice and 2 cups of stock. As paelleras come in different sizes, this is a very individual matter. Bring to a boil again, stirring now and then. Rice will be ready in 20 minutes but check it once in a while and add stock if, at some point, evaporates completely.
- Try rice, if al dente, remove the paellera from heat and reserve for 15 minutes, covered. This step will seal all the flavors within. Now comes the best part, serve!
Be patient, do not over stir. This recipe benefits a lot from gentle movements since they allow ingredients to absorb the liquid and condense all the flavors. What is more, it will help in the making of socarrat , that delicious crispy layer at the bottom of the paellera. Another trick to make this crust develop is to turn the heat up for 1 or 2 minutes at the end of cooking.
If you prepared too much paella, it is advisable to let it cool down and put it in an airtight container. Stored in this condition, it will last from 3 to 4 days in the fridge and 2 months in the freezer. If you choose the last option, when you decide to eat it, transfer the container to the fridge for an entire night. Next day add some stock to the pan and heat it on the stove until boiling.
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