Spain Savvy Culture Corner: A family paella
Today we’d like to share with our readers a very special family recipe, one we get a lot of inquiries about. Spain Savvy is proud to present………..the infamous Spanish rice dish, paella!
The dish is said to to be a perfect union between the two historical Spanish cultures, the Romans, for the pan and the Arabs, that brought rice from the Middle East.
There is even a tale of how the Moorish kings’ servants created rice dishes by mixing the left-overs from royal banquets in large pots to take home. It is said by some that that word paella originates from the Arab word “baqiyah” meaning left-overs. The term Paella actually refers to the pan that it is cooked in.
It would seem a natural dish, since rice is grown in Spain, and all the meats and seafood that can be found in the different variations are all plentiful throughout the country. Most experts agree that the dish was developed in the Spanish city of Valencia, although today you can find paella and rice dishes in every little corner of Spain.
We do a big paella at our home with family and friends a few times a year and it’s always a hit – and great fun to put together. Everyone loves it and there are so many different variations. We’ll show you this popular chicken & rabbit version.
To do this at home, you will need a paella dish (paellera) and can either cook it over an open flame or on a paella grill burner system (paellero) like you can see in these pictures. Almost every family in Spain owns one of these, and some even have multiple pan sizes. The one you’re seeing in these pictures and with the ingredients we will give you serves about 12 people. We usually serve it with a couple appetizers, a nice soft bread to push it around your plate, and lots of nice cold cerveza or tinto de verano to wash it down.
If you are in the U.S., you can order these supplies on Tienda.com.
3/4 kgs (about 1.5 lbs) of an entire bone-in chicken, cut up into small pieces
3/4 kgs (about 1.5 lbs) of an entire bone-in rabbit, cut up into small pieces
3 whole heads of garlic, cloved peeled
3 cups of rice (Tienda.com also sells «bomba» rice which is ideal for paellas since it absorbs liquids so well)
6 cups of chicken stock
(The rule here is use twice as much stock as you do rice – use the same cup to measure and eye it if you want – it’s usually one fistful of rice per serving)
2 halved lemons
1/2 kgs (about 1 lb) of whole flat green beans, sliced
6 whole artichokes, peeled down to the soft parts and cut into pieces
2/3 medium-sized green frying peppers, sliced into strips
1 kg (about 2 lbs) of tomato – the juicier the better
Rosemary sprigs (romero) – (Secret: we pick ours from the bushes in the parks in our village! Shhhh!)
A little under 1 gram of saffron (azafrán)
5 grams of sweet paprika (pimentón dulce)
2 bouillon cubes (In Spain, it’s known by its brand name, Avecrem)
Extra Virgin Olive Oil
You’ll want to break your paella pan in ahead of time by rubbing it down with a clove of garlic. You can also soak the beans ahead of time in ice water with lemons to soften them up and prevent oxidation.
When your pan is hot, fry up the garlic, green peppers, beans, tomatoes and artichokes. Add saffron and sweet paprika at the end and remove. Then, fry the meat in the same pan (using a little bit of olive oil each time).
Add vegetables back to the pan with the meat. Cover in chicken stock, sprinkle in broken-up bouillon cube and then add the rice evenly throughout the pan in a thin layer. Garnish with rosemary and let cook for 6 minutes over high heat, followed by 5 minutes of low heat. When you’re ready to present it, you can decorate it with lemons or even with some colorful bougainvillea flowers from your garden like we did!
Doesn’t this sound easy? Try yours today and then contact us to try the real thing in Spain!