Paella is often called Spain’s national dish and is often described as “Paella Valenciana” due to its modern origins on the east coast of Spain, near the city of Valencia. An Australian, Leno Lattarulo, from Melbourne, lays claim to be the official best paella chef outside Spain. In 2016, he was awarded the world title of “Best Paella Outside Spain” in the prestigious Concurs International Paella Competition, one of the oldest food competitions in Spain. Leno is chef and owner of Melbourne’s Simply Spanish restaurants.

Leno has let us in on some of the secrets of a winning paella: “The rice has to be cooked evenly and the crust at the bottom – known as the socarrat – needs to be golden brown, mustn’t burn and should also stick to the base of the pan.” You can find the recipe here and more of his memories of eating paella at family gatherings when he was growing up. Thanks to Concurs Internacional de Paella Valenciana for the recipe. Paella is often called Spain’s national dish and is often described as “Paella Valenciana” due to its modern origins on the east coast of Spain, near the city of Valencia.

An Australian, Leno Lattarulo, from Melbourne, lays claim to be the official best paella chef outside Spain. In 2016, he was awarded the world title of “Best Paella Outside Spain” in the prestigious Concurs International Paella Competition, one of the oldest food competitions in Spain. Leno is chef and owner of Melbourne’s Simply Spanish restaurants and has let us in on some of the secrets of a winning paella: “The rice has to be cooked evenly and the crust at the bottom – known as the socarrat – needs to be golden brown, mustn’t burn and should also stick to the base of the pan.” You can find the recipe here and more of his memories of eating paella at family gatherings when he was growing up. Thanks to Concurs Internacional de Paella Valenciana for the recipe.

Types of paella include Valencian paella, vegetarian/vegan paella (Spanish: paella de verduras), seafood paella (Spanish: paella de marisco), and mixed paella (Spanish: paella mixta), among many others. Valencian paella recipes, both seafood and land based, are believed to be the original recipes. Most paella chefs use bomba rice but Valencians tend to use a slightly stickier variety known as Senia

Use a 36cm or 40cm paella pan

INGREDIENTS

1 chicken cut into small portions (use the whole chicken)

500g Valencian Paella Rice (Tartana, Santo Tomas, Dacsa or Fallera)

1 rabbit, cut into small portions (substitute with 500g diced pork

spare ribs, chicken thighs or chicken breasts)

400g flat green beans or green runner beans, chopped in half

300g Garrofé lima beans (a variety of white bean, typical of

Valencia. Substitute with white kidney beans soaked overnight)

3-4 cloves, finely chopped garlic

2-3 large finely chopped or grated tomatoes

170ml extra virgin olive oil

(such as MORO Extra Virgin Olive Oil)

1/2 g of Tas-Saff Saffron

3 litres of water or freshly made chicken stock (caldo)

1 dssp, Spanish smoked paprika

12-18 snails (optional)

Sprig of fresh rosemary

Salt to taste

METHOD

To infuse the saffron, place in a small 25 ml or equivalent jar and fill with hot water. Leave for 24 hours.

Place the paella pan on the heat source— either paella gas ring, charcoal fire, bbq, etc. Sprinkle salt on the pan.

Add oil to the pan on a low heat then add the chicken followed by the rabbit. Saute, turning the pieces until they are golden brown. Push meat to the outside of the pan where there is less heat and put the vegetables in the centre. Sauté for a few minutes.

Once vegetables are soft, move them to the edge of the pan. Add tomato, fry lightly for a few minutes. Mix paprika and garlic stirring gently, then add enough liquid to meet the rivets on your paella pan (the rivets attaching the handles).

Add the infused saffron and season to taste.

Raise the temperature and bring to boil. Once boiling, add the snails (if using) and leave on low heat for 30 minutes. Check the level of the water, it should be just below rivets. Add or remove stock as necessary. Add rice to pan, gently spreading evenly over pan. NOTE: Once the rice is spread do NOT stir again!

Leave to boil for 18-20 minutes. The first 5 minutes on a high heat, followed by 5 minutes on a medium heat and the final 5 minutes on low heat. Finally, turn heat to full for a minute or two to get the ‘socorrat’, the caramelized rice at the bottom of the pan.

Let stand for 5 minutes before serving. Serves six.

THE STORY BEHIND THE RECIPE

“I am very proud of my Spanish heritage and have enjoyed learning about the authentic cuisines. A few years ago, I went to Spain to compete in the paella competition and after a few goes, was awarded the prize of best paella chef outside Spain.

“The paella’s secret is in the technique – the rice has to be cooked evenly and it can’t be over or undercooked. The socarrat – the crust at the bottom – needs to be golden brown and should stick to the base.

“My mother was a big fan of Spanish food and made paellas for parties for family members and friends. It featured at someone’s birthday or at Christmas parties. Mum would bring out the big pan and with a glass of wine, we would dance the night away. It was a different world in those days. Three or four families would get together in a garage or backyard, depending on the weather and season and the paella would be at the centre of it all.”

- Leno Lattarulo, champion competition Paella chef