Valencia is a region on the Mediterranean coast of Spain, which is known for its rice dishes. There are as many versions of paella as there are cooks in Spain, but Paella Valenciana is the traditional version of Valencia’s signature rice dish including rabbit, chicken, and snails.
Because authentic paella pans are so large, they are not suitable for cooking on top of a standard burner since they exceed 10 to 12 inches. You'll need a 17-inch (44cm) paella pan to prepare this recipe. To provide even heat over the large surface, use a round kettle barbecue or gas paella burner.
Dry beans must be soaked in water for 8 hours so you should soak the white beans overnight and drain the liquid before cooking. Alternatively, you can substitute quality canned beans. Just be sure to rinse and drain thoroughly before using.
If artichokes are not in season or you cannot buy them fresh, use a 16-ounce can of artichokes, drained. Frozen or canned snails can be purchased specialty grocery stores. If you are preparing the ingredients ahead of time, refrigerate them until you are ready to start cooking.
- 1 1/4 cups dried white beans
- One whole chicken or 8 chicken drumsticks
- 1 rabbit (skinned and cleaned)
- 2 whole artichokes (trimmed, the bottom of stem removed, and each cut into 4 pieces or one 16-oz. can artichoke hearts)
- 1/4 cup olive oil
- 1 medium onion (chopped)
- 2 cloves garlic (finely chopped)
- 2 medium tomatoes (quartered)
- 24 snails (thawed, if frozen, and cleaned)
- 4 to 6 cups chicken broth
- 2 cups medium grain rice
- 2 1/4 lbs. green beans (rinsed and trimmed)
- A pinch of saffron threads
- Soak the beans overnight. Drain liquid before cooking.
- Cut the whole chicken into serving-size pieces; use a meat cleaver to cut the chicken into pieces small enough to easily mix while sautéing. Do the same for the rabbit.
- If you are using fresh artichokes, trim tops of leaves and cut off bottom stem. Cut artichokes into quarters, length-wise. If you are using canned artichokes, drain the artichokes. Set all vegetables aside.
- Light the barbecue. When the coals on the barbecue are covered in white ash, cooking can begin. If using a gas paella burner, light the burner. Assemble all the ingredients on a table near the barbecue or burner, so that you can stay in the area and monitor the cooking.
- Place the pan on the grate and add enough olive oil to coat the bottom and allow the pan to heat. When hot, sauté the onion, garlic, and tomatoes in the olive oil. Add olive oil as needed to prevent sticking.
- Once the onions are translucent, add the chicken, snails, and rabbit. Cook, stirring constantly—about 15 minutes. Add the white beans and stir. Meanwhile, heat the chicken broth in a saucepan until hot.
- Add the rice in the form of a cross. Stir for 2 to 3 minutes to thoroughly coat the rice with oil.
- Crush saffron threads with fingers and add saffron to the saucepan of broth and stir. Slowly pour broth into the pan until contents are covered.
- Add the green beans and spread evenly over pan. Allow to simmer, cooking rice and beans. Add more broth if necessary.
- When rice is cooked, remove from heat and cover with aluminum foil, allowing paella to rest for 5 to 10 minutes before serving.
Making Other Varieties and Better Paellas
Cooking paella does take some technique so if this becomes a favorite dish it is worth learning how to cook a perfect paella. You may also want to try different varieties, such as Paella de Marisco, a seafood paella or a vegetarian recipe.