Chicken & Rabbit Paella with White and Green Beans, Tomato, Pimentón & Saffron (Paella Valenciana)
by Rick Stein from Rick Stein’s Spain (Ebury)
The Valencians take the making of paella seriously, but this shouldn’t obscure the fact that it is an easy-to-make, everyday dish, albeit for a large number of people. I was attracted to this recipe because it contains no seafood. I find that seafood paella in the wrong hands suffers from overcooking. What I love about this dish is the flavour of good stock in the rice, backed by tomato and pimentón and the lovely textures of the rabbit, the green beans and, surprisingly, the white judión beans. I say surprisingly because you would think a large dish of rice with beans in it would be too much, but it works spectacularly. The Spanish often use a powdered yellow food colouring, known locally as colorante, to add an extra burst of yellow to their rice dishes, but the saffron quantity used here is adequate. Just a quick note about cooking in a paella pan on a domestic hob. Because the pans are so large, I have found the best way is to position it over 2 medium burners and to turn the pan an eighth of a turn every 2–3 minutes, so everything cooks evenly. It works a treat.
125g large dried white beans, such as Spanish garrafón or judión or butter beans, soaked overnight (or Nigel says you can use 1 x 400g tin, drained)
250g flat green beans, such as runner beans, cut into 5cm pieces
2 boned chicken thighs, skinned
1 x 750g rabbit (farmed ideally), jointed (or Nigel says substitute with duck or more chicken thighs)
5 tbsp olive oil
125g shallots, finely chopped
3 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1 tsp pimentón dulce (smoked sweet Spanish paprika)
225g large, vine-ripened or beef tomatoes, halved
1.5L chicken stock or rabbit stock
2 tsp loosely packed saffron strands
the leaves from 2 x 15cm sprigs fresh rosemary
600g short-grain paella rice, such as Calasparra
salt and freshly ground black pepper
Essential kit: You will need: a 40–50cm paella pan (or a wide casserole dish)
Drain the soaked beans, put them in a pan with plenty of cold water, bring to a simmer and cook gently for 1½ hours or until tender (or use tinned butter beans, drained). Drain and set aside. Blanch the green beans in boiling salted water for 2 minutes. Drain and refresh. Set aside with the white beans.
Cut each front leg of the rabbit in 2 and each hind leg into 4. Cut the saddle into 8 pieces. Cut each chicken thigh into 3. Season with salt and pepper. Place a 40–50cm paella pan over 2 burners on a medium heat. Add 3 tablespoons of the oil, the rabbit and chicken pieces and leave them to brown slowly, turning them over now and then, for 12–15 minutes until cooked through.
Remove the meat from the pan, add 2 tablespoons of oil and the shallot, garlic and pimentón and fry for 5–6 minutes until the shallot is soft. Meanwhile, grate the halved tomatoes, pressing the fleshy, cut face of the tomato against the grater. (As you grate each tomato half, the skin will flatten out and be left behind.) Discard the skin.
Add the tomatoes and fry for 4 minutes then stir in the white and green beans.
Add the stock, saffron, rosemary leaves and 2½ teaspoons of salt to the pan and bring to the boil. Sprinkle in the rice and lightly stir so the ingredients are evenly distributed. Scatter the pieces of rabbit and chicken evenly around the pan, then give it a good shake so they bed down into the rice. Simmer vigorously for 6 minutes over a medium-high heat, but do not stir it any more. Reduce the heat to medium and leave to cook for 14 minutes more, again without stirring, by which time all the liquid will be absorbed and the rice pitted with small holes. Turn off the heat, cover with a clean tea towel or unfolded newspaper and leave for 5 minutes before serving. Serve straight from the pan.