London Mums go to Valencia to learn how to make the authentic Paella recipe

Tomorrow 20th September it’s World Paella Day and I want to take this opportunity to celebrate one of my favourite dishes of all time. This Summer I was invited by Visit València to explore the city through a world-class gastronomical tour that I will never forget. My travel article will appear in the Winter magazine issue 28 soon but meantime I would like to publish the authentic Paella recipe and share some memories of the amazing paella making experience alongside the master that is Toni Montoliu, who owns an organic farm called Barraca de Toni Montoliu where he makes the best Paella Valenciana in the whole world (without exaggeration).

As Toni Montoliu told us, the secret for making the perfect paella is acting as if you were making love slowly, passionately and with a lot of heat

 
We spent the whole day collect vegetables from the fields that we later cooked for lunch.
 
 
We then took a tour around the vegetable gardens and Toni took us on his scooter for a fun back-ride (it was a treat just for us so don’t expect him to do it with all guests).
 
 
We also visited a Barraca museum (the typical house of the region which belonged to Toni’s family) where we saw carts and agricultural tools from the 19th and 20th centuries.
 
 
 
If you head there with kids, they are invited to join a horse-drawn cart, and a donkey ride.
 

Sangria is obviously a great companion to a Paella!

 
The best part of the day for me was the actual taking part in the process of preparing an authentic Valencian paella and eating our lunch with Toni.
 
 
That was a genuine Valencian meal cooked with local products from the producer to our stomachs directly. 
 
 
That is the life! 

For fans of Spain and Paella, you’d be interested to know that on World Paella Day on the 20th of September, leading rice masters and chefs will prepare 13 recipes from all over the Valencian Community to offer 1,300 delicious free tastings at the Plaza del Ayuntamiento de València, which probably is my favourite European city and where I could easily live in the future. 

If you think that you are going to make a Paella for one tonight, think twice! Paella is a dish that you have to eat and enjoy together with other people.

In València, the cradle of paella, you’ll find many different versions of this tasty dish, which according to many is one the most complicated of the nation’s culinary delights.

On World Paella Day in València you can invite someone to join you at one of 20 paella restaurants in the city. You can enjoy a second paella for free in one of these restaurants: La Cigrona i +, Puerta del Mar, La Cigrona, Palace Fesol, L’Encís, Labios de Chocolate, Masusa, La Cava Wine Lovers, L’espardenya, Vlue Arribar, Panorama, Marina Restaurante, El Portet, El Camarote, La Ferrera, Casa Carmina, Casa Teresa, Casa Pepe, L’Estibador, El Rek and Arrosseria L’Ill. So please feel free to invite anybody! All prices are available here. The official website for World Paella Day is www.worldpaelladay.org

For many locals, the best paella they’ve ever eaten has been cooked by their mother, father or grandmother, generally a variation on the authentic Valencian recipe. For me it was the one cooked by Toni Montoliu.

If you don’t have someone to cook a good paella for you and you’d like to give it a try, here I have included the most popular recipe, used in restaurants serving traditional rice dishes across the city. Get your apron on and let’s get started!

Ingredients for 4 people:

1 cup of extra virgin olive oil.

1 chicken cut into pieces.

1 rabbit cut into pieces.

300 grams of fresh Ferradura (green beans).

1 medium tomato.

1 tablespoon of sweet paprika.

Saffron.

6 cups of water.

200 grams of Garrafon (lima) beans.

Salt to taste.

3 cups of rice.

A bunch of rosemary.

It’s common to add snails, artichokes and even duck to paella in València. It is sometimes served with lemon wedges and there are also those who add a touch of garlic to the sauté, although opinions on this are somewhat divided. It all depends on individual tastes.

Method (in 12 simple steps):

1.- Heat the oil over a low flame in the paella pan (wide and shallow receptacle).

2.- Next, sauté the chicken and rabbit for around 5 minutes.

3.- Then add the freshly chopped vegetables, beans, artichokes and grated tomato to the pan. Fry for several minutes until a smooth sauté begins to form.

4.- Add the paprika and fry over a low flame for one minute after adding the water.

5.- Next, add the saffron, garrofon beans and salt to taste.

6.- Turn up the heat and leave to boil for approximately 15 minutes.

7.- Add the snails, should you be including them in the recipe.

8.- Then spread the rice evenly across the pan.

9.- Leave to boil for a further 15 minutes and then test the stock. Add salt if necessary.

10.- During the last 7-8 minutes add the rosemary. Leave it to cook for around 5 minutes before removing it from the pan.

11.- The paella is cooked when the liquid has evaporated but the mixture is not completely dry.

12.- In order to achieve the famous socarrat, the crispy caramelised bottom, leave it to cook a little longer over a low flame.

Once the paella is ready, there are some age-old Valencian traditions worth bearing in mind, such as eating the rice with a wooden spoon or directly from the paella pan itself. But this all depends on the context. 

About Monica Costa

Monica Costa founded London Mums in September 2006 after her son Diego’s birth together with a group of mothers who felt the need of meeting up regularly to share the challenges and joys of motherhood in metropolitan and multicultural London. London Mums is the FREE and independent peer support group for mums and mumpreneurs based in London https://londonmumsmagazine.com and you can connect on Twitter @londonmums

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