Paella Valenciana

Here is an authentic recipe for paella valenciana, as cooked for me by Tinuca Lasala at the Alambique cooking school in Madrid. Unlike the ‘Spanish Flag’ version of so many paellas seen outside Spain and in the Spanish coastal resorts, it is quite a plain-looking dish. There are no strips of sweet pimento and olives (that is strictly for tourists), and there is no mixing of meat and fish in the same dish. In this dish, Tinuca used chicken and rabbit, a very good combination. It should becooked in a large, shallow pan, which has an absolutely flat base and is in even contact with the heat.

Ingredients

  • ¼ pt / 140 ml olive oil
  • salt
  • 2 lb / 900 g chicken breasts and thighs, each cut into 2–3 chunks
  • 1 lb / 455 g rabbit joints (hind legs or back), cut into neat serving pieces
  • 8 oz / 230 g green beans, blanched and drained
  • 4 oz / 110 g ripe tomatoes, peeled and chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, peeled and finely chopped
  • ½ tsp mild paprika
  • 2 pt / 1.15 l water
  • 1 lb / 455 g cooked flageolet beans
  • good pinch of powdered saffron
  • 1 lb / 455 g calasparra or arborio rice

Method

Heat the oil in a large, flat-based, shallow pan. Put in a pinch of salt and the pieces of chicken and rabbit. Cook over a steady heat until the meat is a rich golden brown, then add the green beans, tomatoes and garlic. Cook for a few minutes more, then stir in the paprika, the water, the flageolet beans and saffron. Bring to the boil and allow to simmer for about 40 minutes, until the meat is almost tender. Add the rice in the traditional way, in the shape of a cross on the surface. Stir it in and cook over a high heat for 10 minutes, then over a low heat for a further 10–15 minutes, until the rice is tender. Remove from the heat, cover loosely and let it stand in a warm place for 10 minutes before serving.

Variations

Rabbit alone can be used. Asparagus can be added, as can rinsed snails. I much prefer these to the shellfish and chicken paellas where the shellfish, particularly the squid, is invariably overcooked.

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