Although Paella has its origins in the Community of Valencia, its elaboration and popularity spread all over the peninsula, thus one of the most well-known national dishes. It is enough to visit some of the most touristic cities of Spain to see that it is one of the reference dishes of our country.
History of Valencian paella
Valencian paella is a dish with a long history. Its origins date back to the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries. It was born out of the farm workers’ need to prepare a hearty and simple meal with just a few ingredients. For this reason, Valencians often get angry when they see ingredients like seafood in it. Rice dishes called Valencian paella, because the meaning of this historical dish is completely distorted. While it is true that workers living closer to the shore can use ingredients like shellfish or fish, their true raison d’etre is linked to ingredients that are truly accessible to all humans.
Villagers harvested the vegetables and meat they had access to and then added the rice. For this reason, one of the components of the current recipe is rabbitbecause this is one of the most common animals in Spain.
Where does the name paella come from?
Although in most parts of Spain we call the coarse paella in which the rice is cooked, in reality this is not the case. Its name means paella and “pan” in Valencian.. So, the dish itself got the name of the container.
What is called paellera in Valencia is the special gas stove used for its preparation. This pot is used because it allows us to distribute the heat of the fire evenly over the entire surface of the paella.
Valencian paella ingredients
The fixed ingredients of this recipe are: Bomb rice, chicken, rabbit, bachoqueta (also called flat beans), garrofó, olive oil, paprika, saffron, crushed tomatoes and salt.
There are also many other ingredients that can be added such as artichokes, rosemary or snails.
What is garrofo?
It is probably one of the most special ingredients in this recipe. It is one of the legumes of the family. Phaseolus lunatushives, broad beans and shallots, among others, belong to them.
Basically a flat white beans, characterized by the ability to transmit flavors to the broth. It needs slow cooking and needs to be pre-moistened for about 12 hours, as with other types of legumes, for its preparation. It is very connected to paella and the Valencian Community as it is grown in warm places, so normally if we want to use this product outside of Valencia and its surroundings we will have to resort to frozen ones.
What is charrat?
socarrat a layer of rice stuck to the bottom of the paella. These few millimeters take the dish to a higher level, giving it a crispy touch. It’s important that the Socarrat be soft, because what we want is to caramelize the rice, not just burn it.
This is achieved when the broth runs out. The sound of cooking begins to change and you begin to understand how rice is fried. The wider and shallower the paella (remember the bowl is also called paella), the more socarrat layers we will have.
Oils and fats are another important point to reach this layer. It is impossible to get lean socarrate, but it is necessary to control it so that the rice does not become greasy and heavy.
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