My Alicante-born and bred friend Esteban knocked me up a paella with a difference recently. Being a Valenciano he's rightly proud of what they can achieve with rice in that part of Spain.
So it was that he cooked for me, and served in his coastal garden, a crusty paella or - as they call it in Valencia - Paella con Costra.
It has an egg crust and the cooking process is completed in the oven. The crust seals the delightful aromas until such time as it is served at which point the crust is broken open.
It went to the top of my personal paella chart. And in the Valencia region, the home of paella, that is quite an achievement.
- 350 grams of Paella Rice
- 3 tablespoons of olive oil
- Salt and ground black pepper
- 200 grams of chorizo or butifarra sausage
- 2 tomatoes, peeled, seeded and chopped
- 175 grams of lean cubed pork
- 175 grams of skinless, boneless chicken breast, cut into chunks
- 1 litre or 4 cups of of hot chicken stock
- Pinch of saffron threads
- 150 grams of cooked chickpeas
- 6 large eggs
Preheat the oven to 190 Celsius or gas mark 5. Heat the oil in a flameproof casserole and fry the sausage until browned. Add the tomatoes and fry until reduced. Stir in the pork and chicken pieces and cook for 2-3 minutes and until the meat is lightly browned. Keep stirring.
Add the rice to the pan and stir over the heat for a further minute. Then pour in the hot stock. Add the saffron, season to taste, and stir well. Bring to the boil and then lower the heat. Add the chickpeas. Cover the casserole tightly with the lid and cook over a low heat for around 20 minutes or until the rice is tender.
Beat the eggs with a little water and a pinch of salt and pour over the rice. Place the casserole, uncovered, in the oven and cook for about 10 minutes, until the eggs have set and browned slightly on top.
Serve the crusty paella straight from the casserole.