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Introduction & method

Paella (pronounced 'pie-yay-ya', not 'pie-ella') must be one of Spain's most famous dishes. It was invented in Valencia and people get very heated about what goes into an 'authentic' paella. To be honest, I'm not a total purist (we actually had a paella at the Valencian restaurant that claims to have invented it, and we were not impressed), but I'd never put chorizo in it. What I'm making here is more or less what you would get at a restaurant in Madrid - Paella Mixta.

Paella Recipe

Get Started

Traditionally, a paella is made in a special pan called a paellera - it's a wide shallow pan with two handles. They come in all kinds of sizes up to a couple of metres across (for when you're really hungry), but mine is 36cm (14 inches) diameter. You can actually use a big frying pan, but the benefit of the paellera is that everything is spread in a thin layer so it cooks evenly. 

The first thing you need to do is make a stock. Basically I'm using my chicken stock recipe with the addition of the rabbit bones and liver. Then you need to prepare the meat and red pepper because they take longer to cook than the other ingredients.

Heat some oil in the pan (paellera or whatever) and sauté the rabbit for about 10 minutes. Add the red pepper and cook for a further 5 minutes. Remove from the pan.

To make the sofrito

Finely chop the onion and mince the garlic. Heat 2-3 tablespoons of olive oil in the paellera and add the onion and garlic. Let them cook on medium heat for 5 minutes. Grate the tomatoes, discard the skins. Add the tomato pulp and simmer for 5-10 minutes until the sofrito has thickened.

For the paella

If you are using a big paellera, it will be bigger than the rings on your hob. This won't be a problem if you are cooking your paella outdoors on an open fire, but of course you're not. To ensure even cooking, position the pan so it spans two rings. Turn it 10º every minute or so.

Rinse the rice in cold water and pour it into the pan. Combine it with the sofrito, and then smooth it out into a uniform flat layer covering the bottom of the pan. Stir the paprika and saffron into the stock, and carefully pour it over the rice. Add the rabbit, placing individual pieces around the edge of the pan. You won't be stirring the paella at all while it cooks, so it's important to place the meat and seafood in a pleasing arrangement. Place the squid rings in a circle around the centre of the pan, and the clams in a ring around that. Place mussels in between the pieces of meat, and finally position the strips of red pepper pointing toward the center of the dish.

The rice will need to cook for about 25 minutes on medium heat. The aim is for the rice to absorb the liquid, and to be moist at the end, but not swimming in liquid. You'll need to keep an eye on the heat to make sure it's not boiling too rapidly or too slowly. And don't forget to turn the pan a bit every minute or so.

After 25 minutes, test the rice for doneness by taking some out from underneath the top layer. Taste it - should be al dente (ie cooked, but with a bit of bite). Cover the pan tightly with aluminium foil and cook for a further two minutes. This allows the top layer of rice to cook in the trapped steam. The final step is to caramelise the bottom layer of rice, creating the highly-prized socarrat. Turn the heat up to full and cook for another 2 minutes.

Remove from heat and allow to rest for 10 minutes, still covered in foil. After resting, remove the foil and sprinkle with chopped parsley and place lemon wedges around the edge.

Give each of your guests a fork, sit them down around an outdoor table in the shade of a fig tree (in Spain, in summer, of course) and place the paellera in the middle of the table. Squeeze lemon, dig in, enjoy!

The video above is from the Keef Cooks YouTube channel. Click here to see the video recipe of Paella on YouTube.

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Ingredients & Info

 1 small onion
 1 large tomato
 4 cloves garlic
 18 mussels
 8 langoustines or large prawns
 18 clams or cockles
 200 grams squid
 200 grams rabbit meat (or chicken)
 400 grams bomba rice
 1 red bell pepper
 800 ml chicken stock
 8-10 strands saffron
 1 tsp smoked paprika
 1 lemon
 1 tsp chopped parsley


120ml (half a cup) olive oil 

US Customary/Imperial

Serves 4  - 6
Prep time: 15 minutes.
Resting time: 10.
Cooking time: 30 minutes.
Total time: 45 minutes.