The home cook tips
If you are still with me, you might have some thoughts about the traditional recipe.
You might not eat rabbit. Obviously, if you don´t eat any meat, this recipe is not for you, but some meat eater would find themselves a bit uncomfortable with the idea of eating chicken. In that case, you can swap the chicken with 400g of pork pieces (bone in). Don´t swap it with beef or lamb.
Finding some ingredients could be hard, especially the beans. I would not dare to go against Omar´s teaching (because he is a proper chef who worked at El Bulli and I just do my best to cook at home) but the beans on the paella are not broad beans but a bean called garrofón, that can only be found in Valencia. Butter beans are close enough, but they are difficult to find fresh. At Las Delicias you can find precooked Butter Beans that would be acceptable. Fresh artichokes are also a bit tricky to find in the UK, but we have them tinned and precooked artichokes. If you decide to use precooked beans and artichokes, add them to the stock at the same time than the rice, so they don’t cook for a very long time.
Instead of calasparra or bomba rice, you can also use redondo rice and it will be absolutely fine (despite bomba or calasparra rice are superior in taste).
Where is the chorizo in this recipe? The traditional paella recipe in the XX century does not include chorizo. But in the XXI century, Jamie Oliver dared to say that paella would benefit from the addition of chorizo, which caused the rage in many Spanish paella lovers – because it is true that Spaniards are very passionate and we can’t just be a bit upset. But some food researchers found that chorizo belonged in the traditional paella recipe during the XIX century.
At the end of the day, you are the one who is going to eat the paella, which in my opinion entitles you to cook the dish in your own way and change anything you want. However, my recommendation is that you start with this traditional recipe and see if you like it. If you can’t cook it exactly as it is, there are some basic changes that will not take you very far from it (as swapping rabbit with pork or using precooked beans and artichokes if you can’t find them fresh), and once you have tried it, if you think some changes would work better for you, you can start experimenting. Here are some dos and don’ts that many Spaniards use at home:
- Never use long grain rice. Don’t use basmati or jasmine rice, because you will spoil the dish.
- If you want to add chorizo, go for it, but preferably choose sweet chorizo. Paella should not be spicy.
- Don’t add other spices just because they are yellow, especially turmeric curcumin. If you don’t like saffron or it is too expensive for you, add yellow paella colorant instead. It won’t give you any flavour, but sometimes less is more. Turmeric curcumin is very nice in many dishes, but it does not belong in paella.
- Artichokes are optional.
- Beans and rice fit very well, so it should not come as a surprise to have beans in a paella. However, beans have disappeared from most paella dishes.
- A vegetable-less paella is a sad paella. If you don’t like artichokes and beans, you could use red pepper and peas.
- If you remove some of the basic ingredients or add new ingredients to your dish and you go too far from the original recipe, you might want not to call it paella anymore and say rice with things instead. Especially if you are cooking for a Spaniard and you want to be humble and polite, but still cook your dish your way.
- You can make seafood, mixed paella or vegetable-only paella and still call it paella, as long as you are using an approved recipe!