Paella making in Valencia – a traditional recipe

I couldn’t wait to learn how to make traditional Valencian paella this weekend. The paella in Valencia is a very rich rice dish, with chicken, rabbit and snails in rather than your standard seafood or chorizo.

We visited local celebrity Toni Montoliu’s beautiful farm just outside of Valencia, only 20 minutes from the centre by metro but it felt like we were a million miles from the city. The farm is set in a huge field with horse stables, gardens with an abundance of fresh fruit and vegetables, a small agricultural museum and a lovely outdoor kitchen area.

paella ingredientsToni’s passion for true Valencian food shone through, and he explained to us how everything he makes in his restaurant is sourced from his farm where possible. We began the afternoon with a tour of the fields and produce he grows, where we picked some of the fresh vegetables for our paella dish and salad and enjoyed a horse carriage ride around the orange grove (where we couldn’t resist stopping to pick a few to eat along the way!)

Toni taught us how to make the paella in the traditional Spanish style – using a huge paella pan with a log fire roaring beneath. He explained that paella making is a real art form and getting distracted can ruin the whole dish, so a lot of passion and dedication is required to make the perfect paella (during one of our tangents we nearly forgot to stir the rice – a move which would apparently have destroyed the last 1.5 hours of work, phew!)

The taste of Valencian paella is like no other – it’s much meatier and richer than your average paella, with an almost gravy-like colour. I was initially sceptical of the snails and rabbit rather than seafood, but the flavours really shone through and added a new dimension to the dish. Served with a light side salad and eaten in the warm summer sun on the farm, my first taste of Valencian paella was an experience I will never forget.

Here’s how to make your own Valencian paella at home:

Ingredients:

Paella recipe• Paella rice
• Chicken thighs and legs on the bone
• Rabbit on the bone
• Snails
• Butter beans
• Ferradura beans (or mange tout/broad beans)
• Saffron
• Paprika
• Chopped tomatoes
• Olive oil
• Fresh rosemary
• Salt to taste
• Lemons

Directions:

1. Heat olive oil in a large paella pan until sizzlingcooking the meat for paella
2. Add chicken and rabbit to the pan, turning until browned on the outside
3. Season with a little salt
4. Leave to cook on a lower heat for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally
5. Add the Ferradura beans to the pan for a few minutes until browned
6. Add the paprika slowly to make sure it doesn’t burn, as this will give the paella a bitter taste
7. Throw in the tomatoes in their juice and stir to ensure all of the meat is coated in the tomato and paprika mix
8. Next add some water along with the butter beans and snails, and turn the heat up to boil
9. Add a fresh sprig of rosemary to the mixture
10. Add a pinch of saffron to the paella before adding the rice evenly over the pan
11. Turn the heat up to boil again for 10 minutes or so to ensure the rice is well cooked
12. Add salt to taste and turn the heat down to simmer (you want the outside of the paella to be crispy to enrich the flavour)
13. Take the pan off the heat and cover and leave for 10 minutes to let the flavours develop and intensify
14. Garnish with lemon and serve with a simple side salad of lettuce and fresh tomatoes