Paella

Mexican paella
Paella A La Mexicana

What makes a rice dish paella? The original Valencian recipe starts by sautéing chicken and rabbit. What hope for veggies? Luckily there are infinite varieties of authentic paellas ranging from squid ink to artichokes and thistles.

Here’s a quick guide. If you don’t care about the ins-and-outs of culinary history, authenticity or paella semantics skip to the first of the three paella recipes that follow. Come back later for a short read

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Arroz (rice) a la paella: named after the wide shallow pan in which it’s prepared paella is made in a paella.

Paella is not yellow. It has saffron which is yellow, but this is used for flavour. Being expensive you might be tempted to omit this queen of spices. That’s fine. But please don’t add turmeric. And please, please don’t dye your rice with tartarazine-based paella colouring. OK? Paella isn’t yellow.

Valencian Paellas use paprika as well as saffron. Originally unsmoked from the Murcia region, you’ll find plenty of modern paellas using the smoky paprika of La Vera.

Alicante paellas use salmorreta: dried sweet peppers (ñoras) are sautéd with garlic, tomato, parsley and salt then blended smooth. Salmorreta will colour your paella a rich rusty red with no hint of yellow.

Paella contains beans. Originally a type of butter-bean local to the region, nowdays you’ll see any mixture of white and green beans including haricot and broad beans Peas are ok too.

When to add the rice? Valencian paellas add the rice before the liquid coating it in oil to keep the grains separate. Alicantine paellas add the rice last. Though there is a difference in the outcome it’s a fine point. What matters is the rice.

Which rice? Paella is dry. Bomba rice from the Valencian Albuferra is the classic, being highly absorbent, but there are many other types which connoisseurs can distinguish in taste and texture. Any medium grain highly absorbent rice which holds its shape is good.

Socorrat:, the crunchy caramelized crust at the bottom of the pan is an essential of authentic paella. it requires two things: a shallow paella pan and not stirring the rice after adding the liquid. This applies to all paellas. Finally:.

A dash of lemon? There was a big hoo-ha a while back in Spanish Master-Chef. Like onions in tortilla or Brexit, the country is split down the middle (at least, back in 2016). Lemon with rabbit and chicken could seem a bit weird. but vegetables love a bit of lemon. You can go a step further and pound garlic with black pepper in a mortar and pestle then add lemon-juice and sprinkle the resultant majado over your paella.

And now, breaking with every paella convention here’s a long-grain rice paella with Mexican smoked chipotle chilli – oregano salmorreta topped with avocado and a lemon majado – in a (shallow) frying pan.

Paella A La Mexicana

A Spanish paella in the Alicante style using Mexican ingredients
Course Main Course
Cuisine Mexican, spanish
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 25 minutes
Servings 4 people

Ingredients

  • 1 cup long grain rice such as basmati
  • salt to taste

Salmorreta

  • 4 fresh tomatoes – unpeeled
  • 1 onion
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • 1-2 chipotle chillies dry or in adobo sacuce

other condiments

  • 1 tsp dry oregano
  • 1 pinch saffron (optional)

vegetables

  • 2 carrots
  • 1 stick celery
  • 1 medium sweet red pepper
  • 1 tea-cup pinto beans
  • 1 handful green beans
  • 2 avocados allow 1/2 an avocado per serving

dressing

  • whole black pepper corns pounded
  • 1 lemon or lime jiuced
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 1 bunch fresh coriander leaf chopped

Instructions

  • Peel and chop the carrots into small pieces. Scrape and chop the celery. Top, tail and slice the green beans into inch long pieces. Deseed and chop the red pepper to your taste. Peel the onion and garlic. Deseed and the chillies if you want to reduce the heat
  • Put the roughly cut onion, 2 cloves of garlic, coriander, oregano and chipotle chillies into a blender goblet with a little water or vegetable stock and liquidise to smooth
  • Heat a couple of teaspoons of oil in a wide shallow pan and add a cup of long grain rice
  • Gently toast the rice in the oil, stirring without browning for a minute
  • Add the carrots, celery, green beans and red peppers and sauté for a further minute
  • Add the cooked beans, tomato-chile salmorrejo, saffron if you're using it and water or vegetable stock to make up twice the Volume of rice. Season with salt. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat to low and cover. Cook for 15 minutes without stirring
  • after 15 minutes test the rice – it should have no crunch in the centre. if it does give it another 5 minutes. Finally turn off the heat and allow to rest 5 minutes or a little longer
  • Meanwhile pound the third clove of garlic, 5-8 peppercorns and a pinch of salt in a mortar and pestle. Add the juice of half a lemon or lime.
  • Slice the avocadoes lengthways and arrange over the now rested rice
  • Sprinkle over the lemon dressing and some more chopped parsley. garnish with lemon or lime wedges and serve with a salad

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