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Valencian Paella - Arroz en Paella a la Valenciana

A true Valencian paella's ingredients come from the produce of the fertile coastal strip: rabbit and chicken, tomato, plus several local varieties of green and dried beans and white vaqueta snails after rain (they shouldn't be substituted by other varieties). After that there is no clear agreement: some insist on rosemary and others dislike it; pimentón is usually, but not always, added alongside the saffron.

This recipe comes from Levante, a restaurant in the small town of Benissanó (Valencia), which began serving paella accidentally twenty-five years ago as an extension of the family's Sunday lunch. Since then, it has grown into one of the most respected paella restaurants in the Valencia region. Rafael Vidal, the third generation in the kitchen, stresses that their recipe is not entirely orthodox; since today's chicken falls off the bone if simmered in the old way, it's only fried.

He does, however, like most valencianos, consider a wood fire an essential part of the recipe, as much for the flavor of smoke as the intense heat, which produces the socarrat, or crunchy brown crust. This is Rafael Vidal's recipe for a paella over a wood fire, in appropriate quantities. The wood for the cooking of the rice is traditionally orange and vine shoots, but any hard wood should be fine (pine is too smoky).

Makes 10 servings.

Prep Time: 30 min.

Cook Time: 1 hr.

Rated 4 Stars
Average Customer Rating: 4 out of 5
based on 2 reviews

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2 - 1/4 lb Spanish short-grain rice, such as Bomba or Calasparra
1/2 cup olive oil
1 free-range chicken, weight approx 4 - 1/2 lb
1 rabbit, weight approx 2 - 1/4 lb
3 ripe tomatoes, skinned and grated
1 lb 2 oz green runner beans (bachoqueta de herradura)
9 oz flat white butter beans (garrofóns)
Rosemary, optional
3 - 1/2 quarts water
Sea salt

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Build up the wood fire. Heat the olive oil in the paella pan. When it is very hot add the chicken and rabbit, cut into small chunks, plus any trimmings. Fry very well until the meat is golden brown. Add the tomato and the vegetable over the same high heat, and sauté them briefly with the meat.

Add the water and build up the fire to give a steady rolling boil over the whole pan. After a few minutes, over very high heat, add the rice, salt and saffron. At this point the fire should be at its strongest; then slowly spread it out, allowing it to die down during the cooking to give an even socarrat (bottom crustiness). Leave to rest off the heat in the pan for 5 minutes before serving.

If you want to use rosemary, cook a long sprig in the water for the rice before adding it to the pan.

By Rafael Vidal
Recipe courtesy of Spain GourmeTour magazine.

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Recipe Reviews for Valencian Paella
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LISHA  Rated 4 Stars
"It is a good basic receipe but I also added their bittersweet paprika (yum), paellero 1 pkg, chopped peppers,garlic,and onion. I used chicken stock instead of water. The last thing that we did different was to cook the rice in a BBQ grill. Talk about nice smoked taste. Yum."

John Milton  Rated 4 Stars
"Since snails like those in the Albufera are not available here, I substitute Little Neck Clams. Also, after being a paella chef for 32 years, I find that roasting the chicken in advance allows me to see that everything else is cooked properly, instead of basing the timing on the "done-ness" of the chicken."