For this prize-winning recipe—a stunning winter rice dish of meatballs, pork ribs, black sausage, potatoes, and chickpeas—I must thank Bertha Gilberta Ivañez, the cook at the Hosteria del Montsant in Jativa near Valencia.
“On Sundays, when I was growing up,” Bertha told me, “we would take this rice dish to the baker's oven before attending mass. You don't need to serve anything else, just a salad. And it's even better the next day, served at room temperature or reheated over boiling water.”
Award-winning recipes always have their nuances and special touches. Here are some of Bertha's, which, you'll note, are nearly the same as Norberto Jorge's paella: the rice of choice is a Spanish medium-grain rice that has what Bertha called “a satisfying chew”; don't ever wash the rice; be sure the liquid is boiling before adding it to the rice; stir the rice only once; let the rice rest for at least ten minutes before serving, allowing it to continue to absorb flavor.
As the meatballs must stand overnight, plan accordingly.
The Slow Mediterranean Kitchen by Paula Wolfert. Copyright © 2003 by Paula Wolfert. Photographs copyright © by Christopher Hirsheimer. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. All rights reserved.