It's not easy to make great paella at home; don't let anyone tell you any different. It takes practice to learn how to finesse the fire and the rice and the liquid so everything comes out perfectly. But once you get it, there's no better way to feed a group of friends and family. The Valencians believe that paella isn't just a meal; it's a reason to gather with loved ones. Learn to make paella, and it will become part of your life.
- 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
- 12 cups chopped vegetables (1/4-inch pieces)
- 3/4 cup sofrito, homemade or store-bought
- 2 pounds Bomba rice
- 7 to 8 quarts water or vegetable stock, homemade or store-bought
- 2 sprigs rosemary
- Kosher salt
- Herbs such as thyme, oregano, parsley and/or basil for garnish
1. Heat the olive oil in a large paella pan over a high flame. Add any harder vegetables (root vegetables, etc.) first and cook until lightly browned, 3-5 minutes. Then add the softer vegetables (such as green beans, peas, mushrooms and/or leafy greens) and cook until all the vegetables are tender and lightly caramelized.
2. Stir in the sofrito until it evenly coats the vegetables. Add the rice, stirring so that the grains are coated with the sofrito, and spread it evenly across the pan. Add the water and rosemary, stirring just enough so that everything is evenly distributed across the surface of the pan. Season with plenty of salt, taste and adjust as needed.
3. Set a timer. Bomba rice has a narrow window, between 18 and 20 minutes, when it's cooked through but still just slightly al dente. That's your target. Taste the rice often throughout the cooking process and add more liquid as necessary. In the last few minutes increase the heat to crisp the rice at the bottom of the pan, forming the socarrat that Spaniards value so much.
4. Bring the paella to the table. Sprinkle dramatically with the herbs. Let your guests bask in the beauty of your creation, then dig in. In Valencia they'd eat directly out of the pan with wooden spoons, but forks and plates are acceptable.