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Recipe for authentic Valencian paella

Recipe for paella Valenciana, the authentic one.

 

Dear friends
Since one of your favourite dishes is paella and particularly the Chicken and vegetable paella that we make in Cucharea, I wanted to write a post about this dish of Valencian origin that has become popular all over the world.
I hope you like it.

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Cucharea chicken and vegetable paella

History of Paella

For those who do not know it, paella is a stew of Valencian origin made with chicken and rabbit meat, vegetables such as garrofó – a kind of lima, or butter bean – green beans and of course, rice.
It can also be cooked with fish and seafood as in our Senyoret paella (clean finger seafood paella).

 

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Cucharea Senoyret paella
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Cucharea Senyoret paella
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Cucharea Senyoret paella

Or with only vegetables as Cucharea’s Vegan paella.

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Cucharea Vegan Paella

 

Origin of Paella

The origin of this dish is not entirely clear.

There are differing theories, but the one that seems most plausible is that it originated in the Albufera of Valencia. The Albufera is a lagoon of brackish water located near to the Mediterranean Sea in the Valencia region.

The characteristics of the terrain and the climate make the Albufera of Valencia an ideal place for the cultivation of rice.
Although in times of the Roman empire the rice was already cultivated by these lands, it was not until the arrival of the Muslim people and Berbers, that orchards and intensive plantations were created.

The Muslims not only brought new agricultural techniques that popularized the consumption of rice, they also used cooking utensils different from those used by native people thus far. Among some of these utensils was one called a baqiya, a wide and metallic shape, perfect for cooking rice in.
Before Muslims arrived, rice had been cooked in high clay utensils resulting in a kind of rice soup, but with the new utensil (baquiya), the rice was less soupy with a creamy texture that became very popular.

It was a gastronomic revolution comparable to the introduction of vacuum cooking in contemporary days.

However, there are other theories that the pan in which the paella is cooked has its origins in Italy. The actual paella pan could be an improvement of the Italian pan known as padella.


Over the years, the ancient paella pan became wider and flatter, facilitating the evaporation of the broth until the dry paella that is so successful today is obtained.

By the way, the name of the pan is Paella, and gives its name to the culinary preparation.

Yes, yes, all that is very interesting, but what is the recipe for the authentic paella?

In 2012 the Ministry of Agriculture of the Valencian region gave its approval to establish a standardised recipe for the Valencian paella, which is composed only and exclusively of the following ingredients:
Oil, chicken, rabbit, ‘ferraura’, ‘garrofó’, tomato, water, salt, saffron and rice.
In my humble opinion I think it is a good idea to preserve a recipe but it is impossible to poner puertas al campo – put doors on a field – that is, to prevent its natural, inevitable evolution.
The term paella, nowadays and by extension, is used to describe a method of cooking rice in a certain utensil and with a certain technique.
If it is true that the Valencian paella, also called paella de carne, is made with the ingredients referred to above, there are different variations depending on the place where it is cooked, they can use snails, garlic, rosemary or duck among other ingredients.

In addition we find that within the Valencian Community there are five kinds of authentic paella, depending on the area.

The meat paella, or ‘Valenciana’ paella

This is the most popular. Made with green beans, garrofó – a kind of butter bean-  chicken and rabbit meat. It is generally cooked throughout the Valencian territory.

paella valenciana
paella valenciana de carne

The seafood paella.

Made with rock fish, cuttlefish and Mediterranean seafood. Typical in coastal areas.

Sea food paella with wildleek,
Seafood paella

The Winter or black paella.

This is the same as the meat paella but seasonal Winter products such as beans and artichokes are added.

paella de invierno con alcachofas
Paella valenciana de invierno

The paella of bull’s liver

This is very typical in the area of the Valencian countryside. Its main peculiarity is that it is made with beef tenderloin, liver, chickpeas and curly lettuce.

paella de higado de toro
paella de hígado de toro

The cod paella

This paella is very typical during the Lenten season. Since the Catholic tradition prohibits eating meat during Lent, it consists of cod and cauliflower.

paella de coliflor y bacalao
paella de bacalao y coliflor

As you can see, there is not one single recipe for paella in the Valencian region, but since 2012 there is a unique recipe recognised by the Valencian government as an authentic Valencian paella recipe.
I will leave the Valencian paella recipe at the end of the post.

But then, can I not cook authentic paella without these ingredients?

It depends on what we understand by authentic paella.

The paella is a dish of Valencian origin. Therefore, it has traditionally been made with local products. But this preparation has become known worldwide and has crossed borders, so we find paella with a host of different ingredients that have never been used in Valencian recipes.
For me, a paella is a rice preparation plus other ingredients, which can be meat, fish, seafood, vegetables or a combination of these.
What makes a paella a paella is not what ingredients are used but the kitchen technique that is applied to cook a certain round grain rice, with a wide and low frying pan, resulting in a loose rice, dry and at its cooking point.

So, in certain countries such as the UK, we find what some call aberrations, paella with chorizo sausage and prawns, for example. It is obvious that this preparation is far from being a Paella Valenciana, but, it is a paella after all; British Paella if you prefer, but if it is well cooked, using the correct technique, with round rice and tasty, hell, is it not a paella?

Conclusion

In the title of the post I promised to give you the recipe of the authentic Valencian paella and so I will. But as you have seen, there is not a single recipe but 5, each with a different origin within the same Valencian community.

Also, I know that more than one person who reads this post will not agree with me that there can be many types of paella besides the Valenciana.

But given the international character it has acquired, nowadays, the name ‘paella’ is intended to describe a type of culinary technique rather than defining its ingredients.

However, a Valencian Paella must respect the ingredients that have traditionally been used in The Autonomous Community of Valencia.

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Vegetables from Valencia, bajoqueta, garrofó y baqueta. FOTO: Concurso Paellas Sueca 2013

Many thanks for reading.

Recipe for Paella Valenciana with meat.

You will need a pan paella of 46 cm in diameter.

A large gas burner, Amazon sells some paelleros kits. You can also make a fire and use a trivet if you feel brave enough.

For 4 people

Extra virgin Olive oil: 110 ml

Special round grain rice for paella: 400 g

Artichoke*: 100 g

Snails*: 8 units

Rabbit: 400 g

Chicken: 600 g

Saffron: 0.5 g

Fresh Garrofón without pod: 100 g

Tabella or Flat Green Bean: 100 g

Smoked sweet paprika from Vera*: 2 g

Rosemary*: 2 stems

Salt: 25 g

Tomato: 150 g

Water: 1.60 l + 1.80 l

* Optional

I do not know where you can get garrofó or tabella in England, if you know, please tell us where.

Method

Fry the meat and vegetables.

Prepare all the ingredients according to the amounts indicated in the recipe. Also prepare the water.

Grate the tomato, cut the meat into small pieces, cut the green beans, peel and chop the artichokes.

Pour the oil into the paella, light the fire and then add all the meat.

Add part of the salt to the meat and fry it slowly for 10 minutes until it is uniformly browned.

Then remove the meat to the edges of the pan.

Add to the center of the pan the green beans, the garrofó, the tabella and the artichoke.

Sauté the vegetables, frying lightly for 3 minutes.

Remove the vegetables to the edges and add the grated tomato with the paprika and a little salt and fry for 5 minutes in the centre of the paella.

friendo los ingredientes de la paella
Frying the ingredients

Boil the meat and vegetables

Pour in the first amount of water (1,60 l), add the snails and increase the heat to maximum to bring up to the boil.

When it starts to boil, make a visual note of the water level in the paella (You can use the rasera as a sort of rule …).

This step is very important, because it is the reference you need to know later, to see the exact moment when you have to add the rice.

Add then the second amount of water (1.80 l.) and the rest of the salt.

When it vigorously boils, regulate the fire to boil evenly and add the rosemary.

Remove the rosemary within 3 minutes of adding it.

Add the saffron approximately 5 minutes before pouring the rice in.

paella hirviendo

Cook the rice

When the water reduces back to the reference point you had taken after adding the first amount of water, it is time to pour in the rice.

Distribute the rice evenly over the paella.

Let it boil on a high heat for 8 minutes, then reduce the heat to medium and continue to cook for a further 8 minutes.

The target is that the paella is ‘dry’ when this time is reached. Neither before nor after.

During the first 12 minutes, shake the paella by holding it by the handles every 4 minutes, to ensure that the rice is evenly distributed.

When the exact cooking time indicated in the recipe has been completed,

turn off the burner and let the paella stand for 8 or 10 minutes.

paella de carne terminada

Enjoy your Valencian paella or click over to the shop and try one of Cucharea’s paella.

www.cucharea.com