How To Cook The Perfect Paella In Just Under An Hour
Photograph by Mr Martin Bruno
We’re in a bit of a transitional period at the moment in terms of the seasons. Well, certainly at MR PORTER HQ, anyway. Autumn has not yet begun to seriously tighten its chilly grip, but summer is on the wane and is, quite frankly, holding on for dear life. So, what exactly should we be cooking at home if we want to entertain friends and family at this time of year?
Paella, of course. Now, when you think of paella, you may immediately imagine yourself spooning down mouthfuls while sipping a dry rosé in the baking heat on a balcony on the coast of Spain somewhere – it can undoubtedly be seen very much as a summer dish. But with a seemingly infinite number of interpretations (we’re sure every Spanish madre has her own signature recipe), it is also essentially a big, hearty stew into which almost any ingredients can be added. So it is a very versatile – and pleasingly comforting – dish requiring little finesse. And it feeds a lot of mouths.
To ascertain what we should be throwing into our paella’s, and how we should be cooking them – we asked Mr José Pizarro – chef and owner of three eponymous Spanish restaurants around London (and therefore a man who perhaps knows more about making this Valencian classic than anyone), to share his recipe.
“You may be more used to seafood in your paella, but this Andalucían variety is more child-friendly, without strange shells and prawn eyes staring back from the dish and scaring your two-year-old niece. (Probably best not to mention the Flopsy and Mopsy meat.)”
Serves: 8 people
Cooking time: about 1 hour
- 500g chicken, jointed into 6 pieces (ask your butcher to do this)
- 500g rabbit, jointed into 6 pieces (ask your butcher to do this)
- Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 4 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
- 2 garlic cloves, sliced
- 2 large tomatoes (ideally the beef variety), chopped
- 2 tsp pimentón de la Vera dulce (mild smoked paprika)
- 200g fresh broad beans, podded weight
- 200g fresh tavella beans (or double the quantity of green beans)
- 200g flat green beans, sliced into 4cm lengths
- 1.4 litres chicken stock, warmed
- 1 pinch saffron soaked in 2 tbsp hot water
- 400g calasparra (paella) rice
Start by seasoning the chicken and rabbit joints with salt. Take a paella pan – or large frying pan – and heat the oil over a medium heat. Fry the meat for 7 minutes, or until the pieces are browned all over. Reduce the heat and add the garlic and tomatoes to the pan, then stir in the paprika. Sauté for 2 minutes before adding the various types of beans. Season again.
Pour in the stock, bring everything to a simmer and leave to cook for 10-12 minutes. Add the saffron water, give it a good stir, then turn the heat up high and scatter the uncooked rice across the whole pan. Stir the rice to make sure it is evenly distributed, then leave it uncovered for 10 minutes to generate a deliciously crispy surface your family will fight over.
After 10 minutes, reduce the heat to low and cook for a further 8 minutes until the rice is al punto (still with a little bite). Remove the paella from the heat and cover with kitchen paper or a tea towel. Leave it to rest for 5 minutes before serving. It might sound like one big waiting game, but then the best food generally is.
Serve with: a new-style white rioja, such as Contino Rioja Blanco, or cloudy lemon and limeade (zest 6 lemons and 2 limes, then put the juice in a jug with 200g sugar. Pour over 1.5 litres water and chill).