Always wondered what a REAL paella valenciana is like? Well, on New Year’s Eve, after a few drinks, a Valencian friend offered to come to my house and show me how to make one. I just had to supply the wine. I accepted, of course!
In the video below we make a real paella valenciana in our patio. And below the video, I’ve included the recipe so you can make it at home!
And if you’re in the US, and you need authentic paella ingredients or want to buy a paella pan or outdoor cooking kit like the one in the video, go to the La Tienda website. You can buy everything you need there and they deliver.
What is a Paella Valenciana?
This is a very important topic in Spain, and especially in Valencia. What really is a paella valenciana? And why do Valencians and Spaniards get so upset when Jaimie Oliver makes paella with chorizo? Let me answer a few questions below.
- Paella is a dish originally from the Spanish region of Valencia. It’s a region where rice has been grown for centuries (hence why a famous rice dish is from there).
- Paella originated as a rice field worker and hunter’s dish and the original ingredients reflect the things that were available in the area.
- This is not a fisherman’s dish, and thus the original paella valenciana does not contain seafood.
- There are certain ingredients you need to have for it to be a paella valenciana: olive oil, garlic, green beans, garrofó (or butter or lima beans), chicken, tomato, paprika, saffron. Optional ingredients are rabbit, duck, artichokes, meatballs, rosemary (and there are others).
- We eat paella mixta (meat and fish paella) in Spain, but it’s not considered a true paella valenciana.
- Chorizo shouldn’t go in because it released so much flavour that it overpowers all the other flavours in the dish
- You can add whatever you want to your paella – but it’s handy to know what a true real paella valenciana is!
Paella Valenciana Recipe
- 1 garlic clove per person (add more or less depending on how much you like garlic)
- 150g of meat (a mix of chicken, rabbit, duck breast; or just chicken and rabbit) per person
- 70-80g flat green beans per person
- 1 artichoke for every 2 people
- 20-30g garrofó or lima beans or butter beans per person
- 100g of rice (Bomba or Calasparra) per person
- About 20g of crushed tomato (fresh or canned) per person
- 0.05g saffron per person (i.e. 1g for every 20 people)
- 1 teaspoon sweet Spanish paprika per 4 people
- 1 ñora pepper for every 2 people
- Fresh rosemary twigs
- Extra virgin olive oil
Prepare the vegetables and meat
- Peel and chop the artichokes into 8 pieces
- Cut the green beans into 2.5cm long strips
- Cut the chicken and rabbit into smaller pieces
- Slice the duck breast if using
- Slice the garlic into slivers
- Pour the olive oil into the pan and gently fry the garlic until golden. Once golden, remove the garlic (and eat the lovely little golden garlic chips as an aperitif!)
- Add the ñora peppers so they inflate (it will only take about a minute). Remove them.
- Add all the meat and fry until it’s golden (about 10 minutes)
- Push the meat to the sides, and add the garrofó, green beans and artichokes
- While the veggies are cooking, take the seeds out of the ñora peppers and cut up the peppers into little pieces and mix in the crushed tomato and paprika. Mix it all together.
- Once the veggies are also golden, add the tomato/pepper/paprika mix to the veggies and meat and mix it all together. Leave it to cook a couple of minutes.
- Add cold water. How much? It really depends on your water. But about 2-3 times the volume of rice you’re going to add (which is 100g per person). You’ll have to play with this as it depends on the calcium in the water where you live. (Note: You can add meat stock if you like or half stock and half water… just don’t tell your Valencian friends!)
- Add the saffron
- Bring the broth to the boil, then turn down the heat and let it simmer for about 15-20 minutes so all the meat and veggie juices work their way into the water. (If you’re adding broth, you might not need to leave it as long as the broth already has flavour)
- Taste the broth and add more salt if needed (you can’t add more salt once the rice goes in – so this is your final moment to adjust the salt!).
- Turn up the heat and add the rice in the cross shape. Push the rice down so it’s below the liquid surface. And then leave it alone – don’t stir it once the rice is in or the rice will release its starch and the paella will be stodgy.
- Once the rice has absorbed about 2/3 of the broth, reduce the heat. The whole rice cooking process should take about 15-20 minutes.
- If the rice is cooked at the base, but not on the top, add aluminium foil over the top for 5-10 minutes so the steam cooks the rice at the top. There should really only be one or two layers of rice in the pan.
- Peel back the foil and add some rosemary sprigs on top.
- Once the rice is cooked, turned off the heat and let it rest for 5 minutes with the foil on top still on top
- Eat! If you want to be super traditional, then you put the pan in the middle of the tabla and eat it right from the pan with (wooden!) spoons.