7 Nov

Paella gets its name from the pan it is cooked in, a paellera a large shallow pan with two handles, originally intended for outside cooking over a hot, wood fire. It’s origins are Arabic though it is most commonly associated with Spain and South Western France. Paella was a poor man’s fare and so a little of everything on hand went into it, making it a perfect dish for vegetable gardeners.

Basic Ratio for 6 people:

  • 500g Paella Rice (Valencia rice a short grain, sturdy variety)
  • 1250 ml stock
  • 500g – 1kg combination of vegetables, fish and/or meat.
  • 250g red or green peppers
  • Garlic, thymn, saffron, spanish paprika, salt
  • 100ml white wine
  • Olive oil
  • 2 Onions

First prepare the stock and infuse a good pinch of saffron in the hot stock. Next set the paella pan or large frying pan on the heat and add half the oil. Fry the meat until browned then remove and set aside. Add remaining oil and fry the onion and peppers until very soft, add garlic until the aroma rises, then add thymn, paprika, salt and any other vegetables and fry for a few minutes. Return the meat to the pan and add the rice stir well to coat in oil. Then add the stock and give it a good stir.
From this point on DO NOT STIR the dish again. Simmer for 10mins then push the seafood into the rice, if using, and continue cooking for another 10mins or until the rice is almost done and most of the liquid has evaporated. Remove the Paella from the heat, cover with foil or a large plate and leave to sit for 10 minutes more before serving. Garnish with parsley and serve.

Paella is made all over Spain and each region contributes to its own variation. Paella Andalucia is the most commonly known paella and generally has prawns, mussels, clams, chicken or rabbit, a little pork and sometimes sausage, and usually no green beans. Paella Valenciana has chicken or rabbit, a little broad green bean, white beans and snails. Catalonia’s speciality is Paella Parellada a rich man’s version because the bones and shells are removed. You can create your own variations depending upon the season and what you have available. The paella shown cooking here is made with chicken breast, peas, peppers and tomatoes.

Ingredient Options
Meat: Pork. Chicken, rabbit, Spanish chorizo sausage, meat should be cut through the bone because the marrow will give it more flavour. A chicken leg for example will typically be cut in two or three pieces.
Seafood: prawns, clams, mussels, squid, fish, languostine.
Vegetables: French green beans, Broad beans, fresh shelling beans (white beans, lima etc.), Runner Beans, Peas, Sweet Peppers, tomato (and sauce) also: artichoke hearts and mushrooms
Liquid a good broth or freshly made stock infused with saffron white wine, light spanish sherry.
Garnish: lemon wedges, parsley

The best paella is only about 2cm deep and has a little golden crust on the bottom. This takes practice! A good paella is done when the rice is still firm, and all the rich, wonderful juice has been absorbed this will take about 20 minutes. Its consistency should be moist, not creamy like an Italian risotto or dry with separate kernels like a pilau.


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