One of the best experiences of our European adventure was enjoying an authentic Paella cooking class at "Mi Paella en el Huerto" ("My Paella in the Garden"). Our friends Hop, Douglas, and Dan raved about the class and insisted we add it to our plans. Our paella experience began when Maria, our guide / instructor, picked us up in the City Hall Square, and began passionately weaving the story of paella from the viewpoint of a native who lives in the very region of its origin.
We came away from the day with recipes and techniques that we've use frequently since. It's particularly great because everything can be done in one pan!
Paella is an obsession in Valencia. Authentic paella originated in the rice paddies surrounding the Albufera lake just south of the city. And while we often think of it as a seafood dish, Valencians scoff at that version, calling it just "Seafood Rice". The "real thing" is made strictly with chicken, rabbit, and local vegetables, with garden snails as an option.
We offer here the recipe we learned in the class, adapted to a normal skillet for those without the signature pan from which the dish gets its name. (Derived from the latin word "patella" for pan or plate.)
Here is a bit of the history, tradition, and "etiquette" of paella that Maria shared with us:
The ingredients listed below are "per-serving" amounts and the recipe can easily be adjusted for the number of people. But it's important that the size of the pan also be adjusted so that the rice is ideally no deeper than the "width of a finger". A good sized skillet (12 inches or more in diameter) will be the right size for no more than 2 to 3 portions. Use more than one pan if you are serving more. It's best if the skillet has a flat bottom rather than one that bulges up in the center. Non-stick is OK, but cast iron or steel is better. A 15" or more paella pan even better still, if you have it!
Ingredients (per serving)
Remember - the quantities here are per-serving. Best results in a typical large skillet is for 2-3 servings.
Recipes from the Road
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