Spanish Paella in Provence
Spanish Culture in Provence
It is easy to believe yourself in Spain when visiting the south of France in summer. At almost all village festivals, Abrivados and fêtes votives, Camargue cowboys, in their traditional colourful attire, run their white horses and bulls through the streets. Women wear beautiful Soleiado or flamenco dresses, and the irresistible music of the Camargue gypsies and frequent cries of Olé can be heard everywhere. We all think of ourselves as Spanish then. Most of all, the wine flows freely, and every restaurant offers Paella menus. Not perhaps the authentic Valencian version which is made with snails and rabbit. This version contains a bit of everything to please everyone – from chicken and chorizo to squid (or more often cuttlefish), prawns and mussels, all cooked with delicious saffron flavoured rice.
But we don’t have to wait for a summer festival to make Paella – we can make it all year round. And we don’t even have to stick to the ultimate Spanish decree that the dish should never be served after sunset and should always be made by a man!
For authenticity’s sake, you might want to invest in a paellera, a low, wide, inexpensive pan – though it can be made in any low flat pan.
Although paella is considered a Spanish dish it is very common to find it at markets in Provence. The vendor cooks up their version of this hearty rice dish in a paellera. The exact cooking time will depend on your ingredients and how long the rice takes to cook.
- 8 chicken thighs and 8 drumsticksskin-on, bone-in
- olive oil
- 200g (7 oz) Quality Chorizosliced into ½ cm rounds
- 1-2 Onionscut in wedges
- 2large pinches of Saffron
- 2 1/2L (10.5 cups) Chicken stock
- 4 Squid or 2 Medium Cuttlefishchopped into bite-size pieces
- 1each Red, Yellow, and Green Bell Pepperscut into strips or pieces
- 2handfuls of Fresh or Frozen Peas
- 1heaped tsp Paprikasmoked or dulce
- 700g (3 cups) Round-grained Paella Rice
- 16large Raw Shell-on king prawnsfrom sustainable sources
- 700g (3 cups) Musselscleaned
- 1/2bunch Fresh Flat-leaf Parsley
- 2 Lemons
More on Paella in Provence
Read about a midsummer’s eve – La Grande Paella – a festive village dinner and social event.
Saffron like grapes, milk and other natural products is impacted by terroir. Apparently, crocuses grown in North Africa will produce saffron that has a slightly different colour and aroma from that grown in Haute Provence. This spice is one of the most expensive in the world due to the intensely laborious production process. There are roughly four flowers for each bulb, and each bloom has three stigmas. It takes about 200-220 flowers to produce 1 gram of saffron (or between 150-200,000 flowers for 1 kilogram). Discover the story of a saffron grower in Provence’s Jabron Valley.