"Used by the most famous Spanish chefs such as Ferran Adria (El Bulli), Arzak, Carme Ruscalle da, Santi Santamaría, Mey Hoffman, Juan Roca, Carles Gaig, Nando Jubany, Xavier Pellicer, Alberto Herraiz (Paris), our Bomba variety caters to consumers demanding high quality and distinction in their dishes” says D. Juan Trias, manager and co-owner of the company.
In 1917 José del Romero (1873-1936), a Barcelona-born commanding officer in the merchant navy, acquired an immense estate on the River Ebro Delta, property of the Marquisate of Tamarit, known as Illa del Pantà or Illa de Riu (Marsh Island or River Island).
The salinity of the land on the estate would only allow for rice cultivation, and with the help of residents from nearby villages, the grounds were converted into paddy fields, which were then rented to small holders who paid with a proportion of their harvest.
Upon José del Romero’s death, his wife, Montserrat de Sentmenat, who would eventually become known as “The Commandress”, took charge of the estate.
Roberto Trías, the husband of Pilar, one of Montserrat’s daughters, took charge of half of the property and spent over 40 years creating irrigation canals and paths between paddy fields. His son, Juan Trías del Romero, the youngest of nine siblings, is currently in charge of the company SAT el Pantar, which operates the Illa de Riu estate.
The tradition of the family was to sell all the rice to wholesalers, except for a small part reserved for the family. But in 1995, a large unsold order convinced the company to commercialize under its own brand, Illa de Riu. Years later, the Bomba variety established itself and now represents 18% of the estate’s total production.
There are as many ways to make Paella as there are people. The few common themes are of course Bomba Rice and Saffron. I present one recipe here with some basic tips that I think should be used for all variations of Paella.
- 8 cups chicken broth
- 1 teaspoon Spanish Grade A-I Saffron threads
- 1/2 teaspoon La Chinata Paprika
- 1/2 cup white wine
- 2 tablespoons Spanish Extra Virgin Olive Oil
- 12 raw medium shrimp in their shells (optional in this version of the recipe. I do not use them with Escargots + pork tenderloin but I include them to show you where they should be in the cooking process if you want shrimp in your Paella)
- 1 pound marinated pork tenderloin. I like garlic, salt, pepper, paprika, EVOO as a marinade. Cut into 1/4 inch round pieces and then sliced in 1/2 giving "semi-circles".
- 24 Escargots (drained)
- 4-6 ounces Spanish Chorizo cut into 1/4 inch slices
- 1.5 cups Bomba Rice
- 2-4 Organic Piquillo Peppers coarsely chopped
- 1/4 cup fresh (or defrosted) peas; you can substitute an equivalent amount of green beans
- Fleur de Sel or Maldon Salt
- 2 lemons, quarted
- 15" seasoned Paella Pan
- fire (any grill that will hold the entire pan)
First, and this is KEY, prepare the saffron by crushing it with a mortar/pestle. (see Saffron Tips) In a medium saucepan bring saffron, wine and paprika to an almost boil. Remove from heat. Let it rest for several hours, even a full day to get all the saffron flavor.
Get your fire going to medium-high heat. Get your broth warm, but not boiling, on the stove. Warm the saffron/wine/paprika mixture in a separate pot. Put on your paella pan on the fire and once it is hot, add the olive oil. Do NOT let the oil start to smoke. Add shrimp, generously sprinkle with salt and sautee until shells start to turn pink and shrimp is ALMOST cooked through ("par-cooking"). Overcooking is BAD. Take shrimp out of pan and set aside on a clean plate.
Now add the chorizo to the pan and sautee for 5 minutes or so. Stirring frequently. You want it to help season the pan and give up some of its wonderful juices/oils. Add the pork and sautee for another 5 minutes, stirring frequently.
Add all the rice. The rice should NOT be above the rivets of the handles of the pan. Stir the rice to get all the grains coated with the pan juices/oils. Add some more salt and sautee, stirring frequently, about 5 minutes.
Add the WARM wine/saffron/paprika mixture. This will let the rice soak up that great saffron/paprika/wine flavor. Gently stir for 3-5 minutes. Add 1/2 the WARM broth. Stir everything well once and then get all the ingredients as evenly distributed around the pan as possible. STOP STIRRING! Adjust the heat so you maintain a medium boil. Cook about 10 minutes. Taste the rice. Monitor closely and keep taste testing every few minutes.
When rice is 1/2 done, add the escargots . Continue to add small amounts of WARM broth to keep some liquid present until the rice is completely cooked (I have never found this to be necessary but it all depends on how vigorous your boil is and the amount of evaporation you experience). NO STIRRING as you want the rice to form a nice crispy layer on the bottom of the pan. This is called the Socarrat and is considered the best part of the paella.
Gently take a fork or spoon and peek through the rice to the bottom of the pan. When most of the liquid is absorbed and the rice is almost done (al dente by taste), take the shrimp and add them back into the paella pan along with the Piquillo Peppers. Throw in the peas or green beans at this time as well. Let cook a few more minutes until the shrimp is warmed through. The entire cooking time once the saffron/wine/paprika mixture is added is about 25 minutes. Remember the rice should be "al dente" and will cook a little more in the pan once the heat is removed.
Pull Paella pan off the fire, put in the middle of a table, give everyone a plate, fork and lemon wedge. Everyone serves themselves from the pan.
You can vary the meats, add clams or mussels, and vary the vegetables to find the combination you like. Have fun with artichokes, rabbit, chicken........
 if you want clams or mussels, 6 of each is about right. They should be fresh, raw and scrubbed. Add them seam side up at this point so they can open and you can look into them (I find the rice keeps them from fully opening if I set them seam side down), arranging them around the perimeter of the pan. Discard any unopened clams or mussels before serving.
1.1 pound (500 gram; approximately 6.2 cups) double sealed bag