At last, a Spanish recipe! It was about time I publish one; a while ago a dear friend of mine that took a look at the blog told me precisely that, not a single Spanish recipe! I know, I know, Spanish cuisine is sooo good that is unbelievable that it took me this long, but here we are and with nothing less than a paella!
Paella refers both the dish and the pan where it is cooked (the same case as tagine). Since paella is usually prepared for family and friends gatherings, the pan is very shallow but big in diameter and it has two handles. As an example, a great seafood paella a good friend of mine invited me in Gandía (Valencia) during one of my first years in Spain.
The dish is original from Valencia, although is cooked all across the country and beyond, I think is one of the most international Spanish dishes. The most popular one is probably the seafood paella, however, some purists claim that the real one is the chicken and rabbit paella, with vegetables from the legendary Valencia vegetable patches (l’horta Valenciana).
The thing is that there are as many variants and recipes of paella as region and families in Spain. Each one has its own way of preparing it, little secrets, tricks and rituals around it.
Before getting into the recipe I like to share some important tricks I’ve collected from all my Spanish friends:
- Always have a very good quality stock ready (an excellent fish stock for the seafood paella is mandatory) and keep extra stock warm in case you need to add more during the cooking
- The rice used for paella is a round, short-grain and high-starch variety called “bomba” if you can’t find it, Arborio makes a good substitute.
- Once you have added the rice and the stock to the pan, the rice should no longer be stirred or mixed throughout the rest of the cooking process.
- Because of the latter, the heat has to get uniformly to the full pan base, otherwise the rice in the centre will be overcooked by the time the rice on the sides is done. Use a pan that matches exactly one of your stove burners.
- The rice stuck at the bottom of the pan is called “socarrat” and it is supposed to be this way, many people (including myself) like to scratch it and eat it at the end of the meal!
Today I’m sharing a very unorthodox chicken and artichokes paella that turned out delicious! As I don’t have a paella, I used a regular frying pan. Take into account that paella is more about the method of cooking the rice than about the ingredients themselves. Once you have mastered it, you can be as creative as you want!