Bringing Valencia’s classic dish home

The wind whips through the flames of an orange-wood fire in the outdoor kitchen of Nou Racó, a waterside restaurant just south of Valencia. Embers and smoke swirl up and around the shallow 3-foot paella pan set above the fire. In it, a roaring boil of broth and more than a dozen ingredients slows to a steady simmer, then to a slow burble as the grains of rice settle into place.

Chef Jorge Pardo Pérez has been toiling for 90 minutes a stone’s throw from the rustling, 10-foot-high reeds surrounding the Albufera lagoon — building a fire, rearranging the coals to optimize unpredictable heat, searing chicken, rabbit, and duck, piling more and more into the pan, called a paellera.


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