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Tuesday, April 06, 2010

Another Tale of Paella




I made a paella for a rooftop barbeque the other day that turned out very well. I have video testimony of the quality taken from a true Valenciana. As she says in the video, “ está el arroz super en su punto” (The rice is perfect).  If I have learned one thing since moving to Valencia it is how to cook rice. The other thing I have learned is that if Spanish people don't like your cooking they will tell you.

Back in the States  I cooked the vast majority of the rice I consumed in a rice cooker. I would make an occasional risotto but I generally ate rice as a side dish. Now I make all sorts of dishes using rice as the main ingredient. Getting the rice en su punto is just a matter of using the exact amount of liquid, although this can be tricky at times.
My secret for paella valenciana is using the right amount of meat for whatever size pan I am using.* In this video I used my 46 centimeter paella. For this pan I use half a rabbit and half a chicken and then two extra leg quarters. The leg quarters are the most flavorful part of the bird so the extra meat really helps thicken the broth. You simply fry the meat in the pan with olive oil, browning it well on all sides while being careful not to overcook the pieces that cook faster. I salt the meat during the browning process. Then you add the water and let this simmer for about 30 minutes. I add the saffron at the last ten minutes or so. Taste for salt (It is difficult to add too much salt as far as most Spanish cooks are concerned and I concur). Then you add the vegetables: broad green beans (perolas as they are called in Valenciano), white beans (alubias blancas), and butter beans I think they are called in English garrafó. These are all precooked so they just need to heat up and then you add the rice. Once you have situated everything in the pan correctly you stop stirring the pan although you are allowed to shake it a bit. When the water is gone it is done. You will probably have to adjust the water a bit by adding a bit towards the end as you try the rice.

¡Buen provecho!

* I don't just have a paella pan (called a paella), I have paella pans!  Plural. If you only have one paella pan you are livig like an animal, at least here in Valencia.

3 comments:

  1. Mmm, I wanted her to feed me a bite through the computer screen.

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  2. Leftbanker was right, I should have bought a paella pan before I left Spain. I guess I will have to go back this year and bring another suitcase just for cookware.

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  3. The pan in the picture (not the enormous paella in the video) cost me about $17 (12€) and is excellent in quality. They sell a whole line of pots and pans of this same material here. It isn't exactly nonstick but is washes clean after use. I have people tell me that a similar paella lan in the USA is quite a bit more. Solution: come visit me, learn my cooking secrets, and carry home a suitcase or two of pans and saffron.

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