John Kemp’s Kitchen: Paella
As some of you may know, I’m down in the beautiful and exotic country of Costa Rica this week. During my time here, I’ve been trekking through the rainforests and climbing volcanoes, drinking what’s said to be some of the world’s best coffee, and sunbathing my days away, developing a lobster-red sunburn which I’m telling myself will turn into a beautiful caramel tan.
Gastronomically, what I’ve thoroughly enjoyed in Costa Rica has been the surprisingly wide array of food options. Apparently the Costa Ricans are big fans of Italian and Chinese cuisines, lining even their least touristy streets with trattorias and Chinese food joints. However, a dish that they come by at least a little more honestly also seems to be all the rage here: paella.
Paella (pie-AY-ah) is a Spanish dish from the city of Valencia which is comprised mainly of rice and is actually a type of pilau. It usually features some sort of protein (chicken and rabbit are common), beans, tomato, and a variety of seasonings. It’s made traditionally in a large pan called—you guessed it—a paella, which helps the rice and other ingredients to cook evenly and allows the moisture to evaporate so that the rice doesn’t become one big starchy clump.
Paella has become quite popular even in the U.S. and Canada in recent years and for that reason I thought I’d share with you a recipe I’ve used a number of times when I’ve wanted to make the dish myself. This recipe has been adapted from spanishfoodsherpas.com.
500 g. Rabbit
500 g. bone-in chicken breast
2.5 cups extra virgin olive oil
1 tomato, diced
200 g. green beans
200 g. lima beans
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 large onion, diced
1 large red bell pepper, sliced
500 g. short-grain rice
1.5 litres chicken stock
1 sprig fresh rosemary
1 large pinch saffron
10 pre-boiled snails
Salt to taste
In a very large pan (use a paella if available), heat the oil until it thins. When heated, add the chicken and rabbit.
Cook the meat, turning it over as needed to develop a golden colour.
Add the tomato, the beans, onion, garlic, and bell pepper and continue to stir. When they are well-fried, add the stock and rosemary and allow to cook.
When the mixture boils, add the rice, snails, and saffron. Remove the rosemary sprig and cook, stirring only as needed.
After about 10-15 minutes of cooking, decrease the heat and allow to cook for another 10-15 minutes. Add salt to taste.
Once the liquid has been absorbed, allow the paella to stand, covered with tin foil.