A while ago I posted about the differences between the Spanish Paella and the Italian Risotto (read my post here) and I promised I would also share my Paella recipe. So here we come to my personal interpretation of this Spanish Flagship food, which is popular all around the globe and appreciated pretty much by all.
My recipe is “almost” original, which is to say that in my opinion it is impossible to replicate a recipe exactly as it is, outside its birthplace: you can’t get the exact same ingredients thus you are somehow forced to make your own version of it. If variations are not such to modify substantially the recipe you can still call it “orginal”, if you modify much, you are simply creating a new recipe based on a cooking technique which is known.
The reason why my Paella is “almost” original is that I follow the traditional version of the Albufera region, where, appearently, Paella originated. Despite the touristic versions that are commonly found at restaurants in Spain and abroad, which are pretty often with fish or chicken, the “Albufera” Paella is made with Rabbit, (which I used for my version) and a set of vegetables. In my case I changed a bit the mix of vegetable based on what I found at the market and what I already had in my fridge and finally I do not use natural colorants. Try my Paella if you like and let me know what you think of it.
Note: the rice used for Paella is called “Bomba” and has rounded grains. I had some left from my latest trip to Spain, bought at “mercadona”, one of the best known supermarkets of the Iberic Peninsula. If you can’t find the bomba rice, do not worry, you can also use Carnaroli, Arborio or Roma rice.
For the broth
- 1 carrot
- 1 onion
- 2 celery sticks
- 1 potato
For the Paella
- a bunch of flat green beans
- 1 green pepper
- 2 big zucchini
- 4/6 pieces of Rabbit (if you can’t find it or you don’t like it you may use chicken, it works well too)
- 4 handful or Bomba rice (or Arborio, Carnaroli, Roma rice)
- 0.3 grams of Saffron
- salt to taste
- Extra virgin olive oil
First, make the broth. Peel the onion and cut it into 2 big pieces, peel the potato, the carrot and clean the 2 celery sticks. Wash all the vegetable carefully, then take a pot, pour 2 liters of water in it and a pinch of salt, add the vegetables, bring it to the fire, turn it on and let the whole thing boil for appoximately 30/40 minutes. When the broth is ready, filter it with a colander and place it into a bowl.
Second, prepare the Paella.
wash carefully the flat green beans and cut them into 2 or 3 sections (depending on their lengh). Then clean the zucchini and the green pepper and cut them into small pieces.
Now take a Paella pan (if you don’t have it, don’t dispair, you can use the largest frying pan you have). Pour 2 generous tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil in it, bring it to the fire (the largest you have – if you use induction or electric plates use the largest one) turn it on at high level and wait until the oil is hot, then pour the rabbit in it and let it brown from both sides by turning the pieces upside down with a pincer, then add the vegetables and let the whole thing stir for 5 minutes.
Once the rabbit is well browned and the vegetables are softened a bit it’s time to add the rice.
Let the rice toast for a couple of minutes then, take the bowl with the broth and pour it into the pan (you may not need all the broth: there is no specific measure here, you have to trust your feelings as it all depends on the quantity and size of ingredients you have used and also how big is your hand at time to pick the rice from the package). I do usually pour a bit less than 1 liter and it usually is enough.
Turn the fire at minimum level and from now on you don’t have to touch the Paella anymore until the whole broth is absorbed. After approximately 10 minutes when half of the broth is already gone, dust the saffron all over your Paella and keep cooking. It will take 10 more minutes to finish, thus you can prepare the table meanwhile. If the rice will stick a bit to the bottom of the pan it’s ok, Paella is good when the bottom layer is a bit burnt and crispy (while for risotto is a crime).
When Paella is ready, place the pan at the center of your table as tradition requires that everyone serves it’s own portion directly from the pan. (Add some salt if you feel it’s too bland before bringin your Paella to the table)