Paella is typically a Sunday dish in Spain and its preparation is a social affair that takes place in the garden or the countryside over an open fire or a propane or butane burner, set on a fire ring.  we use a 20″ paella pan, which is called a paellera, for this dish.  Paellas are infinite in variety, so this is less of a recipe and more of a manual from our friend Nick de Toldi at www.gourmetfly.com for whatever ingredients you choose to offer.

Serves about 8

Place the paëllera (a large shallow two handled pan with slanted sides, is sold in many sides) on the dinner table but wait 10 minutes before opening or serving, allowing the flavors to meld and the guests to begin to simmer with anticipation.  We have a smaller one that we use over the burner and a larger one which we use for this dish over a wood fire or a large gas ring set on a tripod over a propane burner.

Fresh quarters of lemon are a nice decoration and season for both meat or fish paëllas.

PREPARATION:

1- Buy the most classic old fashioned round rice, such as Italian rices sold for risotto.   I use Koda Farms rice, which is from the best farms of California’s Kukuho Rose plantations, which is the best rice farmed in America and is traditionally used for sushi, but works nicely for the Spanish dishes.  The Spanish typically use a medium grain rice, but now favor Bomba rice, an ancient strain of tiny round rice that has been resurrected and recently written about by celebrity chefs.  Who knew I was ahead of the trend?

2- Check how many people your paëllera can serve. Pour as many coffee cups as you can until you reach the rivets of the handles. Divide per two, this is the number of guests. (in other words, you need more or less 100 grams of rice per guest).  For my 20″ paella pan, I use 3 cups of rice and 4 cups of chicken broth for cooking the rice.

FOR THE COOKING:

3- Prepare your fire and put a nice coat of olive oil on the bottom of the paëllera. Put 2 or 3 garlic teeth in the oil. Put your meat or fish cut in small parts in the oil and brown gently. Add salt and paprika on the birds, rabbits, meat or fish. Be greedy with the birds, rabbit, meat or fish, the paëlla is a rice dish. The rice is the star.  I pre-cook the meat and remove any seafood until the end when it is inserted back in together with mussels for the last few minutes, in order to avoid overcooking.

4- Add a small size tin of peeled tomatoes cut in small pieces -pomodori pelati- Once the tomatoes are well hot and boiling, add the rest of vegetables (spinach leaves, small artichokes, green flat beans, red or green pepper).

5- Once all this is well hot and boiling, add the required quantity of water [or chicken broth] divided in coffee cups. Season the water with salt, and saffron. The best herb -if not the only one suitable- is rosemary. Once all this is well hot and boiling, add the required number of rice as: number of water coffee cups divided by 2. Make regular crossed rows when pouring the rice. Equalize thoroughly and do not touch it anymore.

6- Leave it on gentle fire for 20 minutes and cover, if possible.

7- After 20 minutes if it looks very dry, just take it away quickly from the fire -that you should have calmed down before.  If it looks fine but rather wet, give a violent fire for 1 minute. When the paëlla is made outside on a wood fire we press it hard against the red-hot cinders for a minute.  Add any mussels or seafood only requiring a brief steaming.

8- Place the paëllera on the dinner table but wait 10 minutes before opening or serving. Fresh quarters of lemon are a nice decoration and season both meat or fish paëllas