Any self-respecting paella starts with a good stir-fry. In a paella the bigger the better, fry the chicken, the rabbit, the beans, the artichokes and the snails in plenty of oil (the one you see in the photo does not have garrofó because it is not in season and the frozen is not the same), seasoning with a little salt and paprika towards the end. When it is well browned, add the crushed tomato and sauté.
With the sofrito ready, you must add the water. The proportions depend a lot on the fire, the heat, the degree of humidity and how big the paella is, but to begin with, a good proportion is to add three times the volume of water than rice, although it is experience that will make you adjust and perfect these quantities, which you will end up doing by eye, as did my girlfriend’s aunt and mother, who were in charge of this paella (although tradition dictates that it be the man of the house who prepares it).
We now throw some more logs on the fire so that it increases in power and the broth cooks well for 25 to 30 minutes. It is a good time to add the saffron or, failing that, the paella seasoning (the most popular is “the paella pan), which has salt, garlic, coloring and a little saffron.
Then we add the rice “on a trestle” (diagonally) and distribute it over the paella. Cook for between 17 and 20 minutes, although here the time is marked again by the grain of rice and the power of the fire, which we must allow to consume. It has to be completely dry and loose. My recommendation for first timers is that you have a saucepan with boiling water next to it, in case you have to add water. Halfway through cooking we can also put some sprigs of rosemary, which we will remove before serving.
Finally, it is advisable let the paella rest A few minutes covered with a large cloth or newspaper – not good because moisture can release some ink, but I’ve seen it use all my life – before serving it and receiving the applause of those present.