This recipe is high on my best list. Not only in terms of taste, the Mallorcan cooks use what they have. If there is no rabbit in the house, more pork is used, and there is only one “must” for the seafood – sepia should be used, otherwise it’s “as you like it”. And the secret of coordinating the rice, the amount of liquid and the cooking time so that in the end the rice becomes neither hard meal nor mush, this problem is solved quite simply, with a “cross of rice”, skipper Vince Rieira showed me. But more about that later.
1 chicken leg (thigh and drumstick)
5 pork spare ribs, raw
¼ rabbit, (not essential)
2 cuttlefish with skin (essential)
Prawns, crab legs, mussels and/or other shellfish, other seafood
Round grain rice
2 small dried chillies
Green beans (raw, frozen)
Pickled sliced red pepper (for garnish)
First, cut the meat into bite-sized pieces, rub well with plenty of coarse salt, black pepper and garlic powder. Gut the cuttlefish, squeeze out the eyes and beak (leave the skin on, it adds flavour) and cut them up too.
Heat olive oil (not too strong) in the paella pan, fry the prawns and crab legs in it, remove and set aside.
Now fry the meat and cuttlefish in this oil until the meat is golden brown.
Meanwhile, steam the mussels in a little water until they open. Add the cooking water from the mussels to the meat, as well as the halved chilli peppers, then fill up all with water to about 1 cm below the edge of the pan. Now let everything cook for 15-20 minutes (over high heat), adding water now and then, then taste to see if salt or pepper is still missing.
Now add the saffron (this adds the well known colour), the fried crab legs (also crab if possible), the green beans and the rice. The Mallorcans do not determine the right measure with kitchen scales. The ratio of rice to liquid is always correct when a cross of rice is poured into the pan. If this cross looks clearly out of the liquid, the amount of rice is correct, no matter how large or small the pan. It should look like this:
Then the rice is evenly distributed in the pan and the “decoration” is added on top, i.e. red pepper strips, mussels and prawns and/or other seafood.
Everything continues to cook strongly until the liquid is almost absorbed by the rice, which you can hear (!) because the loud bubbling stops. Now the heat is greatly reduced and everything is allowed to simmer for another 5 minutes. Then the pan is taken off the heat and the pallea is given another 5-8 minutes for the different flavours to combine intimately. Done!
All in all, this preparation takes about 1 hour. In Vince’s garden, with friends in front of the open fire and a cold beer, this is an extra pleasure for me. But it can also be done less romantically – at home on the gas cooker with a large pan….