Basque Style Paella

While paella is not originally Basque, Basques have adopted the dish and you will find it most restaurants in Basque Country of Spain. Traditional paella from the Basque Country of Spain is very simple and extremely delicious!! It is also cooked with a variety of meats and seafood. Basque paella is a must try for the real flavors of Spanish rice. This dish is pure bliss and joy with every mouthful!! Enjoy!!

1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
*2 boneless chicken breasts cut into strips or pieces (see notes)
1 small rack of small ribs cup into individual pieces
1 tablespoon minced garlic
1 cup of cherry tomatoes, chopped
Couple handfuls of string beans, keep whole
1 can butter beans or navy beans, rinse well and drain (optional)
2 teaspoons sweet Spanish paprika
1 pinch saffron, about 10 threads
1 cup Spanish short-grain round rice such as Senia, Bomba, or Calasparra
1 teaspoon sea salt
9 cups water

1. Heat a 22 inch paella pan or a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add olive oil and sprinkle the salt around the edge of the pan.
2. Add chicken and ribs and cook until golden brown. About 20 minutes. Turn meat every 5 minutes.
3. Push the meat away from the center and add the green beans to the center. Cook for about 3 minutes. Move bans away from the center. Add the garlic and sauté about 30 seconds.
4. Add the butter beans if using and sauté for one minute. Stir gently.
5. Add the tomatoes, saffron, and paprika. Gently stir.
6. Add 5 cups of water, then use a tooth pick to check the water level. Save the toothpick for later. Add the other 4 cups of water and bring to a rapid boil for about 10 minutes. Then, lower to a simmer for another 15-20 minutes. Check water level with the toothpick. Water level needs to match the same mark as before. Keep cooking if you need to lower water level.
7. Add the rice to the pan and stir minimally until the rice is well incorporated in the liquid and it is evenly spread. Simmer for about 10 minutes, reduce heat and gently simmer until the broth is gone, about 10 minutes. It may take longer. Keep an eye on the pan.
8. At the end of the cooking time, you will hear a faint cracking sound coming from the pan. Turn up the heat for about 30 seconds for the socarrat (crispy bottom) to form. Stop immediately if you start to smell burning. The socarrat in paella is one of the most important keys for fabulous flavor.
9. Remove the paella from the heat. Cover with a towel or newspapers and let it rest for 5 minutes, then serve immediately.

*NOTE: You can use chicken thighs or 1/2 chicken. Just cut up into pieces (bones included). Tweak the recipe by using less ribs and adding shrimp, a white fish, and/or scallops. Do not use a small pan!! Substitute Arborio rice if you can’t find the rice I mentioned. Most stores sell bags of Spanish rice with seasoning. I toss the seasoning in the garbage. This seasoning will totally throw off the dish. If you want to go authentic, use rabbit instead of ribs. If you still have hard rice at the end of your cook time and water has evaporated, cover with a dish towel for 10 minutes to steam the rice. If saffron is too expensive or you cannot find, use turmeric instead or just omit. Love Love Love this dish and it is a Mom favorite. So many flavors and very satisfying!! Go traditional and cook over an open flame!!

Cheers, Drew Frederic

Published by Drew Frederic

Photographer, Artist, Poet, Chef, and Photojournalist.

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