Can’t wait to get to Spain?
We can’t blame you.
The beautiful beaches, the magic of centuries-old architecture, and the one-of-a-kind fiestas make this country a must-see for any avid traveler.
However, all that sight-seeing can make you hungry.
Spain, of course, has the answer to this in its variety of mouth-watering dishes straight from the farms, seas, and gardens of this balmy paradise.
And the best treat of all?
So what is Paella, and how can you make it properly? Read on to discover a wonderful world of flavor in one traditional dish.
Paella: It’s a Cultural Thing
Simply put, Spanish paella is a cultural thing.
It’s a dish that natives hold in high regard, and it has quite a history within the nation.
1. Origins of Paella
Legend has it that Paella was first created in Valencia, Spain.
It makes sense. This is where the Romans first introduced their famed system of irrigation, which allowed agricultural workers to begin farming rice — the main ingredient in the dish.
According to theory, chefs threw the leftover rice, meat, and vegetables from a banquet into a pot together. They spiced it up a bit, and voila!
A Spanish tradition was born.
2. What Goes in the Paella?
Today, this treat isn’t just a pile of leftovers thrown into a pot.
It’s a dish that people take pride in, each native having their own differing opinions on the technicalities of the food.
Friendships have been forged and broken over discussions on how to make paella. However, there’s a few principles which experts seem to agree on.
A pure and true Paella Valenciana will be dark and rich. It is simmered slowly and is never frozen. Traditionally it contains snails, saffron, and beans, though you would be hard-pressed to find this in a tourist restaurant nowadays.
However, you can still get a great paella.
3. How to Find a Good Paella
Eating a bad paella is a bad decision. How can you find the best paella among all the frozen imposters out there?
Try and search for a restaurant like Restaurante Navarro, which has many rice specialties. This is a sign they know what they’re doing in the paella department.
Another sign of a home-cooked professional paella is the requirement that the dish must be served to two or more people.
This is a big dish. If it’s cooked in the authentic style (and in a real paella pan), it will serve more than one.
But you don’t have to eat it in a restaurant. You can make your very own version of this dish from the comfort of home.
How to Make Great Paella
Only with great patience comes great paella.
This dish has developed into an art form and as such is a pretty complicated affair. It won’t do to rush, and it won’t do to use improper utensils or technique.
Oh, and the ingredients have to be perfect as well.
But never fear, because we’re here with the perfect paella recipe for you — the beginner — to start with.
What You’ll Need
For starters, you’ll need a paella pan. No frying pan is going to do the job right. The pan should be 2 or 2.5 inches deep and made of carbon or stainless steel.
Next, get together these ingredients. This is an authentic Paella Valenciana and serves 8 people:
- Saffron spice
- 2 cups paella rice
- 2 lbs. green beans, washed
- 2 large tomatoes, diced
- 1 large onion, chopped
- 1 cup white beans, cooked
- 16 oz artichoke hearts, chopped
- ¼ cup olive oil
- 3 cloves garlic, chopped
The following ingredients can be substituted out to make a less traditional but still delicious version of the dish if desired:
- 24 large snails
- 5 cups chicken broth (sub vegetable broth if vegetarian)
- 1 whole chicken, chopped into 1-inch cubes
- 1 whole rabbit, chopped into 1-inch cubes
Cook it Like this
Begin with an outdoor barbecue. Get the coals going and wait until they have a good coating of ash before you place the paella pan on top of them.
Alternately, you can use an extra-large gas paella burner.
Either way, coat the bottom of the pan in olive oil. Once it’s hot, begin to sauté the onion, tomatoes, and garlic.
When they are translucent, add in the snails, rabbit, and chicken chunks. Cook for 15-20 minutes, stirring constantly. Then add in the white beans.
In a separate pan, begin to heat up the chicken broth. While that’s going on, add the rice to the paella pan and stir for a minute or so, coating it in flavor and oily goodness.
Add the saffron to the chicken broth pan, then pour it over the paella pan. The whole pan should be covered by the broth.
Allow it to simmer for another 15-20 minutes before topping it with green beans. At this stage, it’s almost ready.
All you have to do is let it cool. Then, you can eat to your heart’s content.
Paella Brings the Country of Spain to your Lips
A paella is a Spanish tradition, so always treat it with dignity.
But it’s also fun. You don’t have to get it right the first time, and your failures will probably still be delicious.
So, go ahead, you brave paella pioneer.