paella valeriana

Paella is a dish many people seem to love, as we do, but few rise to the occasion to produce themselves. We are no exception. However, a spark of inspiration was injected into our lives in the summer of 1993 by another exceptional dinner at Valeria's home in Rome. As another physicist with a keen interest in cuisine but wielding a definite edge on bob as an Italian daughter and mom, Valeria learned this dish from her then close collaborator Jesus from Spain, and then served it to us with a follow up recipe transfer by email. We took it very seriously, buying an authentic paella pan and doing the dish a few times before the pan seemed to find its way into retirement hidden above our kitchen cabinets which stop short of the ceiling.

By its very nature, paella is a social dish that is appropriate for serving a group of people. Even in the few restaurants that offer it on their menu, usually two fellow diners at the same table need to agree on both eating the same dish to even order it since the kitchen finds it to be such a hassle to make that they won't go to the trouble for less than two people. The last time bob recalls eating paella out was at the basement level cafeteria in Trump Tower Manhattan, now a sad memory since that retail complex evaporated long ago, but representing the two minimum serving exception.

For dinner at home with a group of friends, this is an excellent choice, being a one-pan meal. No deliberation over what culinary components to fit together. No juggling of competing stovetop activities. Just one big pan and a salad will do. Get the guests to bring the salad (and of course dessert) as we did, and it is even easier. We had a bit of a false start with an attempt to do the paella on the grill (an intriguing idea found from Googling), but although there was clearly more flame there than generated by our two stovetop burners combined, there was two much metal in between the flame and pan, and it was not working, so the dual burner heat source came to the rescue. Indeed this recipe is hard to screw up. We and our guests were very happy. We hope you will be too.


what valeria said: what we did:
3 c medium grained rice  we used 2.5 c of Goya
6 c boiling water (approximately)  we ended up using 6 c
olive oil  yes, extra virgin of course
1 chicken, cut into bite-size pieces  we used 1.5 lb boneless chicken breast
1 rabbit, cut into bite-sized pieces  rabbit, in the USA?
   we also used 12oz chorizo sausage
   1 onion, finely chopped
   2 cloves garlic, pressed
2 sweet peppers, finely chopped  1 red, 1 green finely chopped
2 c peas  9oz package frozen peas
 2 c green beans, cut in 1 in lengths  we used haricot verts (thin French variety)
   1  4 oz jar chopped pimientos
1 500g can pelati (peeled Italian tomatoes)  28 oz can, about 750g?
soup broth cubes  veggie broth powder, maybe 2-3 t
paprika  yes
black pepper  yes
saffron  4 European 12mg packets


  1. Prepare the chicken and sausage (if you include this option) first by cutting up your chicken into bit-sized pieces, removing the casing from the sausage, and slicing it into1/8 in thick disks.
  2. Start 6 c of water (or your recalibrated amount for your rice) boiling in a teapot.
  3. Sauté the chicken in olive oil until browned, then remove to a plate and do the same to the sausage slices.
  4. Next sauté the optional chopped onion and garlic and the chopped sweet peppers until softened but don't burn the garlic if you use it (we cannot resist adding it to dishes like this).
  5. Add back in the chicken and optional sausage, and then add the pelati (we crushed ours), beans and peas and optional pimientos and mix up in the pan.
  6. Pour 4 c of boiling water into your 4 c measuring glass with the veggie (or even chicken) broth powder or cubes appropriate for about 5 c of broth and mix well with the saffron powder.
  7. Stir in the rice and add the broth mixture plus another 1 c (whatever is left of the total you need for your rice) of boiling water to the pan with paprika and black pepper.
  8. Cook on medium heat until the water is absorbed by the rice and the rice is cooked, about 20 minutes. It may be necessary to add in more boiling water at the end if the water is absorbed but the rice not quite cooked. Taste the rice to see if it is done.
  9. Before serving sprinkle some freshly squeezed lemon juice over the top of the pan. We did not read carefully and put individual wedges around the border for each person to squeeze on their own personal serving.


  1. Paella Valeriana is an obvious twist on Paella Valenciana. But maybe not so obvious that it does not need explanation for many of you... There are uncountably many variations of paella, but a classic meat ingredient is chorizo. This spicy Spanish sausage gives the dish a real kick. This ingredient is missing in both Valeria's recipe and the classic Valenciana version. If you are shooting for the bright yellow saffron color of the rice at completion, you better forget the tomatoes, which dominate the color of the final product, which looks reddish like the Americanized Spanish rice bob ate at home as a kid.
  2. We did this recipe with 2.5 c rice and it would easily have fed 10 people, so do the math if you want to aim for a certain head count, or want to predict the leftovers, which are terrific when reheated.
  3. "Pets or meat?" The most famous US cinematic quote about rabbits as food, from Michael Moore's first film attacking corporate America: Roger and Me. Most US eaters think of rabbits for dinner like serving a pet bunny, unlike Europeans who think no more of rabbits than chicken as a food source. Of course one can discuss the morality of including these in the human food chain, but that is another question altogether.
  4. Do your own Google search to see what variations you might like.
  5. Illustrations available.
paellaval.htm: 24-dec-2007 [what, ME cook? © 1984 dr bob enterprises]