When the meat was cooked and the vegetables sauteed, the water and saffron were added. The next bit was crucial apparently. They said that the guests - me and John - had to taste the broth and when that was just right they could add the rice. If the end result was not perfect, the fault was ours not the chefs! As John was on camera duty, the tasting was down to me.
All done! They cooked a 10 person sized paellera and although there were only 8 of us, there wasn't much left.
And if you are wondering, the cooking took longer than expected so we didn't eat till 3.30 - late I think even for the Spanish, but Mariano (Miguel's father) put out plates of sliced cheese to keep us all going along with the wine from Paco and Antonio.
I read up about different paellas tonight, Miguel left his to cook till all the stock was absorbed and the rice was crispy on the bottom....
After cooking paella, there is usually a layer of toasted rice at the bottom of the pan, called socarrat in Spain. This is considered a delicacy among Spaniards and is essential to a good paella. The toasted rice develops on its own if the paella is cooked over a burner or open fire. If cooked in an oven, however, it will not. To correct this, place the paellera over a high flame while listening to the rice toast at the bottom of the pan. Once the aroma of toasted rice wafts upwards, it is removed from the heat. The paella must then sit for about five minutes (most recipes recommend the paella be covered with a tea-towel at this point) to absorb the remaining broth.
Information and the recipe for a Valencian Paella is here...
Valencian paellaOn special occasions, 18th century Valencians used calderos to cook rice in the open air of their orchards near lake Albufera. Water vole meat was one of the main ingredients of early paellas, along with eel and butter beans. Novelist Vicente Blasco Ibáñez described the Valencian custom of eating water voles in Cañas y Barro (1902), a realistic novel about life among the fishermen and peasants near lake Albufera.
Living standards rose with the sociological changes of the late 19th century in Spain, giving rise to gatherings and outings in the countryside. This led to a change in paella's ingredients as well, using instead rabbit, chicken, duck and sometimes snails. This dish became so popular that in 1840 a local Spanish newspaper first used the word paella to refer to the recipe rather than the pan.
The most widely used, complete ingredient list of this era was as follows: short-grain white rice, chicken, rabbit, snails (optional), duck (optional), butter beans, great northern beans, runner beans, artichoke (a substitute for runner beans in the winter), tomatoes, fresh rosemary, sweet paprika, saffron, garlic (optional), salt, olive oil and water. Poorer Valencians, however, sometimes used nothing more than snails for meat. Valencians insist that only these ingredients should go into making modern Valencian paella.
- Heat oil in a paella.
- Sauté meat after seasoning with salt.
- Add green vegetables and sauté until soft.
- Add garlic (optional), grated tomatoes, beans and sauté.
- Add paprika and sauté.
- Add water, saffron (and/or food coloring), snails (optional) and rosemary.
- Boil to make broth and allow it to reduce by half.
- Remove the rosemary once flavour has infused or it starts to fall apart.
- Add rice and simmer until rice is cooked.
- Garnish with more fresh rosemary.
No snails in ours thankfully, just rabbit from Paco and chicken from the butchers, rosemary from a bush next to the house, and wine from Mecina Bombaron and Montenegro, not many food miles in that big dish!