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The real paella from Spain

post #1 of 3
Thread Starter 
This month I will share the paella recipe that we cook in my hometown, Murcia. This recipe is distinctly delicious among the many types of paella from Spain, and was passed down to me by my mother. It is an old-fashioned recipe guided by her hands.

There are three very important issues when you cook paella. First, use good paella rice, short grain. A famous rice for paella is the one that grows in the town of Calasparra (in the province of Murcia). Second, do not stir the rice once it is mixed with the water. Last but not least, use tap water, not bottled.

  • 4 1/2 cups of short grain rice (3/4 cup of rice per person)
  • 9 cups of water or broth (double the amount of rice)
  • Baby back pork ribs or pork chops (1/2 pound cut in small pieces)
  • 2artichoke hearts
  • Green beans (1/2 to a pound)
  • 1 Tomato
  • 1 Red pepper
  • 1 Zucchini
  • 1/4 head of cauliflower
  • 1/2 pound of green peas
  • 1 teaspoon saffron or colorant for paella
  • 1/2 teaspoon sweet paprika
  • 2 cloves of garlic
  • 1 lemon
  • Olive oil (extra virgin)
  • A few leaves of parsley
  • Salt and pepper

Before starting the recipe, I recommend reviewing the whole process, so you have your ingredients ready for each step. Though some people prefer doing all the vegetable preparation in the paella pan itself, I prefer to prepare it in a separate skillet. This is up to you.

Rinse all the vegetables with water, except the garlic. Cut all the vegetables except the red pepper into small pieces (we will use the red pepper later). Use the skillet (or paella pan) to heat 1/2 a cup of olive oil on high. Lower the heat to medium when the olive oil is already hot. Add the cut vegetables and some salt (about a teaspoon) and cook the mixture for about 15 minutes, stirring the mixture once in a while so it does not stick to the pan. Increase the heat to high and cook for 5 minutes, allowing the vegetables to get a bit roasted.

While the vegetables are cooking, peel and cut one clove of garlic. Use a different skillet (a small one) to sauté the garlic on high, using two teaspoons of olive oil. Add the pieces of pork ribs or pork chops. (This ingredient provides great flavor to the paella. However, you can leave it out if you prefer a vegetarian paella.) Sauté both the garlic and the pork. Add a pinch of black pepper. Once the pork has turned golden brown, set it aside, keeping it with its olive oil.

Preheat the oven to 400°F (or 250-300° in most European ovens, or high heat). Place the red pepper in an oven safe dish in the oven and cook for 30 minutes at 400°F, or until toasted. Set it aside until it cools down. Peel the skin off. Cut the red pepper in slices and do not discard its juice. Instead, you can add that juice to the vegetable mixture, but keep the red pepper aside until later on in the process.

When the vegetables are well cooked, add the pork-garlic mixture with its olive oil. Stir it and turn the heat off immediately.

Now is when I start using the paella pan. (By the way, the name of paella originally referred to the pan itself, not the dish.) Pour all the mixture into the paella pan. Without turning the heat on, add the rice and stir it so the flavors can mix. Let it rest for a few minutes.

Let's prepare the broth for the paella in a separate pot. There are two simple options: (1) use just hot water, or (2) prepare broth using concentrated broth cubes that any supermarket sells.

Use a mortar and pestle to break up one garlic clove. Add 1/2 a cup of broth/water, two or three leaves of parsley, a pinch of salt and paprika, and saffron or paella colorant into the mortar. (If you don't have a mortar and pestle, use a bowl and fork to mix it.)

Add the mixture from the mortar to the rice, vegetables and pork. Turn the heat on high. For a few seconds, stir the mixture so it is well distributed throughout the paella pan. Be aware that from this point on, you cannot stir the mixture. If you do so, the starch from the rice will make the final result something you will not like. Add the slices of red pepper on top of the rice mixture to add color and interest. At this point, the rice will start making a crackling noise as it cooks. Pour the rest of the broth/water evenly into the paella pan. If you are using "bomba" rice, see the instructions on the package, as bomba rice requires even more water.

After adding the broth/water, keep the heat on high for the first five minutes. Then lower the heat to medium. The average cooking time for rice is 18 minutes (including the first 5). Taste the flavor of the mixture and broth and add more salt to taste.

Increase the heat to high for the last two minutes. Rice should be al dente. Some people like waiting until the center bottom of the rice starts sticking to the pan. That is called socarrat, and some people love its flavor. Turn the heat off and let the paella rest for up to five minutes before you serve it. When you serve the paella, add a little slice of lemon on each plate. Before you eat it, it is part of the custom to squeeze some lemon over the rice; it is up to you and your guests.

This recipes serves 6. Increase ingredients accordingly for more servings.

If your first paella does not taste as you expected, do not give up. Cooking paella is a bit of an art. Some times you are more or less inspired.

Enjoy it!
You can see all my recipes at A Touch of Spain and enjoy them.
You can see all my recipes at A Touch of Spain and enjoy them.
post #2 of 3
Nice recipe, I will have to try it.

All the paella I have eaten before (in Mexico) has had a wide variety of proteins: chicken, pork, oysters, shrimp, crawfish, etc. Is this type of paella common in Spain, or is it an adaptation?
post #3 of 3

Thank you for posting the recipe. Is this your recipe or is it from another source?
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