I have always been intrigued by culinary experiences while traveling abroad, so I thought I’d give it a try and get some valuable cooking skills whilst in my home town of Valencia, Spain. I’m sure you have heard of the so-called ‘Valencian Paella,’ but don’t worry if you haven’t as you are going to discover firsthand how to cook an authentic ‘Paella Valenciana’. Just bear with me, as something delicious is cooking at the ‘Escuela de Arroces y Paellas’…
About the Paella School
Back in 2013, the Escuela de Arroces y Paellas was created in Valencia, Spain with the sole purpose of sharing with locals and visitors the know-how of how to cook, step-by-step, an original and authentic Valencian Paella. A passionate and dedicated staff take a group of eager students for the day (like myself) through the process of the selection and purchase of the paella ingredients at the ‘Mercado Central,’ then move on to the school to teach a hands-on cooking lesson where everyone gets to cook their own Paella! Personally, I have to give thumbs up to their excellent concept and professionalism, which leaves you with an unforgettable fun experience and very useful cooking skills to impress your friends and family back home!
Interesting facts about Valencian Paella
• Did you know that the word ‘paella’ refers to the pan it is cooked in and not the dish itself?
• One of the most important elements to a good paella is the rice, hence the importance of selecting ‘Bomba’ rice.
• The meat (chicken and rabbit) are the key ingredients that will add flavour to the dish.
• The Paella is, above all, a social act in which family or friends meet, usually on Sundays, around a fire.
• The critical moment in the preparation of the Paella is undoubtedly the end of the cooking of the broth. That is when we are going to get the firmness and texture of the rice, so fire control is crucial.
• Tradition says that the paella must be placed in the center of the table so the diners can eat straight out of the pan.
Valencian Paella Recipe
Recommended pan size: from 42 to 46cm in diameter.
Ingredients for 4 servings:
• 400g of Bomba rice (if not available use short-grain rice)
• 500g of chicken, cut into 50-60g pieces
• 500g of rabbit, cut into 50-60g pieces
• 200g of ferradura (wide green/runner beans)
• 150g of clean ‘garrofón’ (local big white lima bean)
• 2 medium size ripe tomatoes
• 1 teaspoonful of sweet paprika (preferably smoked paprika)
• A few saffron threads, coupé quality preferably
• 250g of pre-cooked snails (optional)
• 120ml of soft flavoured virgin olive oil
• A fresh Rosemary twig
* 4 or 5 parts of water for one part of rice
The 14 Steps Preparation Method
1.Cut the meat, without seasoning, into 50-60g pieces.
2.Chop the ‘batxoqueta’ (lima and green beans) into bite-sized pieces, peel the ‘garrofón’ and grate the tomatoes.
3.Pour the oil into the leveled paella pan and heat the oil on a low heat.
4.Add the chicken and rabbit until well browned.
5.Stir-fry carefully the ‘batxoqueta’,’roget and ‘garrofó’ (lima and green beans).
6.Move aside the vegetables and pour the grated tomato in the middle, add salt and stir-fry.
7.Add a teaspoonful of paprika and stir to combine with the tomato.
8.Stir all ingredients together and continue frying until the meat is well browned and the vegetables and tomato well stir-fried.
9.Next, pour the water into the pan until it almost reaches the top of the pan. Bring the mixture to the boil. When it starts to boil, add the saffron. Add salt to taste then add the fresh rosemary twig and take it out after 10 minutes.
10.Cook over a low heat for 30-40 minutes. In the event that before this time the water level decreases below the rivets of the handles of the pan, add water. It is not a problem to take broth out in the case of an excess or adding water, but always before adding the rice.
11.At this point, if required, add the snails. Add the rice drawing a line along the pan’s diameter (‘cavalló’).
12.Spread soft and uniformly the rice with the spatula and place the meat and vegetables proportionally. Return the mixture to the boil and cook the rice over a fairly high heat for 5 minutes. Afterwards, lower to medium heat and, for the final 4-5 minutes, lower again to very low heat. Total boiling time of around 18-20 minutes. Never exceed this cooking time. The rice must be dry and the grain entire.
13.If the paella came up short of broth, lower the heat to the minimum and cover the top with aluminium foil.
14.It is recommended to leave the paella to stand for around 5 minutes before serving.
As the team at the Escuela de Arroces y Paellas says: ‘The more Paella you cook, the more delicious it will be.’
Credits and Source:
Escuela de Arroces y Paellas |