Tag Archives: Galbis.

Take Three Chefs….A Paella Masterclass for Wikipaella´s Launch.



Wikipaella is an on-line tool for those who cherish paella. It is a community of people dedicated to preserving, defending and cooking the real thing. It is not a religion as these tend to spawn extremists of the worst sort. But it is dedicated to exposing `arrocidades´ a wonderful Spanish word which plays on `arroz´ and `atrocidad´ which perfectly sum up some of the rice dishes which purport to be paella.

Join the group and you will find free advice on where to sample the real thing…and, yes, the group will act as a `Police´ force exposing the worst examples and praising those who produce the real thing! The group is sufficiently open-minded as to recognise that paella is produced with traditional recipes and ingredients in different parts of Spain generally and Valencia in particular! A good philosophy and starting point is that` all Paellas are rice dishes but not all rice dishes are Paella!´ and that `Arroz con cosas no es Paella´( Rice with bits in is not paella).

Paco Alonso

Paco Alonso

The Group enjoys as co-founders Paco Alonso and two Valencians exiled in Madrid,  Guillermo Navarro and José Maza. Their enterprise led to the creation of 2013 being declared  `Year of the Paella´ and Wikipaella now enjoys Valencian Government approval.

Enough of the news stuff…interesting though it may be!

Yesterdays launch of the new website was accompanied by a masterclass in cooking paellas by three of Valencia´s iconic chefs. This was held in the Centre of Tourism in Valencia….the school for chefs, wine-waiters and other hotel and catering staff.

Joan Carlos Galbis Olivares

Joan Carlos Galbis Olivares

First of the chefs to demonstrate his art was Joan Carlos Galbis Olivares, no stranger to posts in this blog. A regular masterchef teacher at the Cdt, has his own school in L´Alcudia, his own restaurant, is a President of judging panels for professional and very prestigious cookery competitions  and a prominent member of the Platform for Gastronomic Information.

He is an expert in cooking with different rice varieties, their absorption of flavour and liquid and of course in Valencian dishes and paella in particular.

Ingredients, Paella Ribera Alta.

Ingredients, Paella Ribera Alta.

Rosemary smoke!

Rosemary smoke!

His choice was the iconic Ribera Alta version of Valencian Paella, a dish which includes `pilotes´or small meatballs with pork shoulder, pork fat, parsley, pine nuts, cinnamon and egg yolks with salt.  You can start with duck, rabbit and chicken, or just the latter two and Joan Carlos does not add salt to the paella. Slow cooking provides a good caramelisation and once this is achieved the three beans, then the pimenton and tomato are added. Then the meatballs, it is cooked longer and more slowly still until all is tender when the  water is finally added.

Joan Carlos emphasised that the amount was relevant to the type of rice used, yesterday it was Fallera Bomba, then the snails go in and the salt is adjusted. Then the saffron strands which have  been toasted first to concentrate the flavour. While the stock concentrates Joan Carlos will tuck rosemary onto the outer ring of his gas support. The smoke spirals across the pan adding flavour! This is to make up for not cooking it over orange wood.

Finished dish!

Finished dish!

After the allotted time the paella is ready for a rest ( Reposar) after which the heat can be turned back on to create the socorrat, the toasted bit on the bottom. The paella was perfect, the rice gently flavoured with smoke, rosemary and the juices and spices….Joan Carlos is a master of his art!

Evaristo Miralles.

Evaristo Miralles.

Evaristo Miralles is a technical chef, an experimenter with his own centre of investigation. He too is a master chef and hails from Alicante province. Champion chef in Spain in 2011, entrant in Bocuse D´Or and president of the judging panel in Gandia for the professional Fidueà de Gandia competition…..dont think we need dwell on this more!

He chose a very simple peasant dish, a paella from Alicante, synonymous  with the province which is essentially a rice dish made with mountain rabbit and snails. Two things make this different from Paella Valencià. Firstly Evaristo creates a stock or caldo from the meat ingredients and the other flavourings. The rabbit is cooked until it is tender but not yet falling off the bone.

Rabbit in the stock.

Rabbit in the stock.

Evaristo does use salt, adding it in a circle around the oil in the centre of the pan in a traditional manner. The tomato is added and concentrated. A dried red pepper or Ñora , which has been diced is added. Interestingly Evaristo´s advice was to add a pinch of sugar to the tomato if cooking this dish at this time of year to make up for the missing natural sweetness…..sugar in paella, surely a first!

Then the stock and meat , adjust the salt if necessary and add the rice when the stock is boiling. Cook until perfect and allow to rest. Socorrat would ruin this dish in my mind. It is a subtle, light flavoured dish but very satisfying, the rice was perfect….a punto.

Evaristo´s Paella

Evaristo´s Paella

Our third masterchef was Raul Barreguer, representing Castellon and who is also a professional teacher for the Cdt.

His choice was an arroz putxero con fetge de cordero ( you will have to humour me, I know that is paella with a cocido stock and lambs liver ) but my friends and these chefs slip effortlessly between Spanish and the Valencian language….sometimes so do my notes!)

Raul Barreguer.

Raul Barreguer.

So here you have a dish where practically all the ingredients are pre-cooked and then assembled as the rice is cooked.

Broadly speaking lamb, beef, all the traditional vegetables, colourings and spices are cooked into the stock, then the meat is stripped from the bones.

Raul starts by frying the oil, briefly with rosemary and adding lambs liver which is coloured then withdrawn. Red peppers which have been roasted and stripped of their skin are then sliced, diced and added. The rice is then added and coated with the oil, normally a no no because it inhibits absorption of flavour. Then white beans are added and  the stock already containing the colorants, spices etc. As the rice swells the meat stripped from the bones in the stock is added back and finally the liver is chopped and spread around the dish which also sits to rest when the rice is cooked.

Raul´s rice cooking.

Raul´s rice cooking.

Perhaps not surprisingly this dish was incredibly rich, up there with Fetge de Bou ( the wonderful local paella cooked with endive, dandelion lettuce and bulls liver and sweetbreads and a paella made with boletus, duck and artichoke. )

The only criticism, if indeed it is one, was that the stock was too rich but it certainly did not matter that the rice had not absorbed all the flavour….it was there in spades!!!!

If this was an arroz and not truly a paella it was a very good example of the recognition of the traditions of the region and the inventiveness of one of Valencia´s most distinctive and accomplished masterchefs!

Arroz Putxero

Arroz Putxero

This was a truly unmissable event, cooking by three of Valencia´s ( nay, Spain´s) finest chefs, three unforgettable dishes and two for me to master…..yes, one of them I have cooked three times before!

It confirms for me that there remains a rich vein of gastronomy here in the province with much more to come!!!!

Very Important...tasting!

Very Important…tasting!

Arroz al Horno…More Than Just Leftovers!

Arrozes from the Cofradia de Arroz.

Arrozes from the Cofradia de Arroz.

We are now well into Autumn and in the canon that constitutes Valencian gastronomy traditional dishes would include Arroz al Horno…oven cooked rice. It does seem to be a little incongruous however to want a dish which is a `rib-sticker´ when the sun is still shining and the temperatures are still in the mid to high 20´s!

Nonetheless it is appearing on the menus of local restaurants and many visitors to Valencia will not be aware of either its history or what a good meal it is.

Historically it is believed to be a dish of leftovers! The base of the dish is the stock left after cooking   `Putxero´ or `Cocido´ ( See my posts of 10 October and 17 February 2012.)  You are left with a big pan of stock full of goodness and flavour and have to find something to do with it!

Today it is a mainstay in  Valencia with regional variations and ingredients depending on which part of the Community you are in. It is particularly popular in and around Xativa and Ontinyent, the Ribeira Baixa and Alta and parts of Castellon as well as the Horta Oeste and Camp de Turia.

The dish has several names  but essentially `Arroz al Horno´ and `Arros al Forn ´ simply reflect the Castellano/Valenciana languages.

In some  areas I have heard it called `Arroz Paseado´ or `Arros Passajet´ no doubt from the tradition of households without ovens walking their dish to the local bakers to have it cooked for them after the bread was finished….something I have seen for myself  in Vilamarxant.

The dish is nearly always cooked in a Cazuela de Barra, the traditional and immensely popular terracotta oven to tableware which is ubiquitous here! I have however seen it cooked in a roasting pan and some of the trendier Pyrex oven pans which are now available.


So what goes in it? Well, typically my Spanish friends will tell you that it should contain pork ribs, morcilla ( either with onion or `de carne´which are a little more robust in the cooking process) , blanquet ( or white sausage) pancetta ( thick rashers of belly pork) , chickpeas, rice, sliced potato and tomato all crowned with a head of garlic and a good stock.

You may also add pilotas  ( small pork balls with parsley and spices ) around L´Alcudia and  in some cases green beans or artichokes.

Arroz from L´Alcudia, Cooked by Galbis.

Arroz from L´Alcudia, Cooked by Galbis.

I have seen versions that include a whole duck ( La Ribera Alta – Alginet, Carlet ) , rabbit or chicken ( La Marina Alta- Parcent, Pego, Ondara ) and even incorporating pumpkin ( La Plana Alta – around Benissa and Almassora)  . Other friends tell me that there is sufficient flavour in the ingredients and that only water , salt and maybe a little saffron should be used.

What is absolutely clear is that the quality of ingredients is paramount. I have learned that buying mass-produced morcilla or blanquets is a mistake. Going to a traditional, specialist butcher for quality, artisan made products will pay dividends! Valencian gastronomy is after all about the juxtaposition of natural flavours and not about adding flavours to make something taste better! I buy my blanquets and morcilla de carne for the  version I cook from specialist butchers in Carcaixent and Ontinyent. I do not buy prepacked, pre-chopped pork rib from supermarkets, it is too small. The local butcher will chop your `trozos´ to the correct size. pancetta from such a butcher is also likely to be better quality if you wish to use it.

The local greengrocer is also a good source for the individual  ingredients which make up the stock and they generally have a better quality local tomato than the supermarkets who often source theirs from the Canaries or Holland!

Of course you should also soak your dried-chickpeas in water overnight as this is the alternative basis of the stock! Pre-cooked chickpeas work but the stock you use then becomes more important.  There are one or two proprietary brands of pre-prepared stock, or `Caldo´ available and as long as you  buy  the natural ones such as `Aneto´ you will be fine.

Arros Passejat, Casa Ricardo.

Arros Passejat, Casa Ricardo.

Ricardo´s Arros passejat or Arroz al horno.

Ingredients for four People.

400gm Arroz DOP Valencia.

250gm Pork ribs chopped into chunks.

I head of Garlic.

2 Garlic cloves chopped.

4 Morcillas de Carne

3 Tomatos.

2 Potatos

125gm Chickpeas


Olive Oil and Salt.

Thereafter the method of cooking is straightforward. Commencing in a frying pan with the potatos which are sliced thickly and fried on both sides and  set aside  The chopped pieces of rib come next, which are browned and sealed then removed, then the pancetta or blanquets and finally the morcilla.

The pan will now have a lot of fat and juices in it! You need some of this for flavour and texture! In the cazuela on an open heat, add some of the fat to  one chopped tomato and the diced garlic cloves. These should be cooked until you have a sofrito at which point the drained chickpeas are added and then the rice to absorb the flavours.

Add in the pork ribs and warm through. Then start to heat the stock and add it slowly to the rice. The potatos and the remaining  tomatos which have been sliced thickly  are then arranged on top and the morcilla, pancetta and blanquets are pushed into the dish. ( See pictures) . The head of garlic sits in the centre like a crown!

Adapted for the paella!

Adapted for the paella!

The rest of the stock is then poured in and the dish is put into a preheated oven ( 200ºC ) until all the liquid has been absorbed. This depends very much on the rice used. Round grain D.O.P. Valencia rice such as `Señorial´  will absorb 2-3 times the amount of liquid. Normally you will need up to 3/4 of an hour followed by five minutes resting time but check to see that there is either sufficient stock to completely cook the rice or that it is not already cooked.

Competitions are common place, the best known being in Xativa every year, but Torrente also has a competition for its `Arros Rossejat´and in Utiel at the Gastronomic fair every year there is a competition for amateurs. There is also a cod and cauliflower version!

Judging at the Utiel Fair Competition!

Judging at the Utiel Fair Competition!


Whether you try it in a restaurant, at a fair or cook it yourself the plate will not disappoint!

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