Spain and paella are almost synonyms for international cuisine and for everyone. Now, it’s not really necessary to travel to that country to try it out, although they have probably mastered their way of cooking paella and the in situ experience is surely something else. But we can thank the Internet for the many recipes we can access and that can be found just a click away.
Now, the recipe can be more or less popular and we can easily imagine the ingredients we’ll need if we want to give it a try. But the true questions have to do with rice: which type of rice is the best fit for a traditional paella?
The rice quandary
Rice types are as varied as Spain itself, its regions and their way of cooking this traditional dish. We can even find versions that include seafood and the national dish which does not, called Paella Valenciana. Leaving seafood aside, both of them include rice so, let’s get to the point and say what kind of rice types there are available and what’s the best rice for paella.
Varieties and the best option in the market
There are some typical varieties grown in Spain, for example Arborio, Bomba or Albufera. The latter is derived from the second one and it’s considered the best fit for paella by experts on the topic. Why is that? Because of the starch it has and how absorbent it is. Both elements are key when cooking a paella because the starch will make the mix thicker and the grain will absorb the broth and give a flavor-packed result for a meal. So, to answer the question, short-grain rice is the best option and should be used when cooking a traditional Paella Valenciana.
However, you shouldn’t let this be an impediment as it can also be cooked with a round-grain and even a long-grain type of rice. So, don’t hesitate, give this five-step recipe a go!
- 1 ½ cups of rice.
- 3 cups of water or chicken broth.
- 1 cup of tomato sauce.
- Vegetables: garlic, onions, pepper.
- Meat: chicken, rabbit, chorizo.
- Salt, pepper, paprika, saffron.
Step 1: Fire things up a notch!
This won’t take you longer than five minutes. If you have one, you can use a traditional paella pan. If you don’t, take a wok or the wider pan you have and use that instead. Preheat the pan.
Step 2: Let’s get meaty about it!
Take the paella or the frying pan, pour some extra virgin olive oil and add some salt to it. Add the meat previously diced. This is a Valencian paella, so we’re not going to include seafood in it. You can use rabbit, chicken and even some chorizo which gives a great flavor to it. After you add that, stir and let the meat get soaked in the olive oil. Season it with salt and pepper and cook until all the pieces are browned. Keep the heat to the lowest.
Step 3: We’re missing the vegetables already
As the meat is browning, take the vegetables, wash them and dice them up. Add garlic, onions and red peppers. At this point, you could also add beans, although it’s good to keep them soaked a whole night before including them in the mix.
Season the mix with a tablespoon of paprika and mix all the ingredients together.
Step 4: Isn’t it a bit dry?
Now it’s time to add some liquids to the mix. First, you’re going to add a cup of tomato sauce and mix. Let this cook for a couple of minutes, until it all blends together. Take the heat to medium or high.
At this point, the mix is creamier so you’re going to add three cups of water (which can also be chicken broth). Make sure the base of the pan is well-balanced so the cooking is even. Stir and make sure the tomato sauce and the water or broth blend together.
Step 5: Rice and shine
Bring the mix to a boil and add a cup and a half of rice. Make sure the rice is evenly distributed and bring the heat back to a low.
Do not cover the pan at any point and let the rice cook for about twenty minutes. Once the rice is done, give it a taste to make sure the seasoning is appropriate and add whatever you consider necessary. Turn the heat off, let it rest for a couple of minutes and serve.
You’re ready to go all Spanish about it!