Paella is the classic Spanish dish that showcases the perfect combination of beautiful ingredients. You get the intoxicating aromas of the saffron, the smokiness of the Spanish paprika, and the oceanic sweetness of the seafood.
The first time I tasted Paella, was back in September of 2010, in a random family ran restaurant that the husband and I stumbled upon during our travels in Barcelona, Spain. I was hooked ever since. I remembered, when I was going through my withdrawals and post-vacation blues from Spain, I used the internet and searched for “Spanish store in Seattle”. The first thing that popped up was The Spanish Table at Pike Place Market.
The hubby and I decided to check out the store back in October 2010. Upon entering the store, we were greeted by the plethora of “Paellera” or Paella Pans. To our surprise, this store sells everything that is from Spain including an amazing selection of Spanish wine, Jamón Serrano, Jamón Ibérico, morcilla, chorizo, Spanish cheeses, spices, cookware, cookbooks and more. Above all, this store sells a “Paella Kit” which includes the paellera pan, pimentón, Bomba rice and a printed recipe of how to make Paella. Naturally, I bought the Paella Kit, along with the ingredients I needed, and the rest is history. I have been visiting The Spanish Table and making this Paella since 2010.
There are many versions of Paella. The original recipe was from Valencia, Spain where they used chicken, rabbit and snails. This version of my Paella recipe is called “Paella Mixta” or mixed of meat and seafood. There is no wrong way of doing Paella as long as you use good quality ingredients that are available to you. Keep in mind that the core ingredients of Bomba/Valencian rice, saffron, and pimentón can never be substituted.
Prep time: 20 minutes
Cook time: 30-40 minutes
“Paellera” aka Paella Pan (12-13inches/30-32cm, good for 4-6 people)*
1/2 cup Valencian Rice per person or 1/3 cup Bomba rice per person
1 cup of chicken broth per 1/2 cup Valencian rice or 1 cup broth per 1/3 cup of Bomba rice
2 cups or more of extra broth just in case the liquid evaporates faster than you expected
4-5 threads of saffron per person
1/2 cup of white wine
4 tbsp. olive oil
1 piece of Chicken thighs or breast per person, cut into bite size pieces (I use chicken thighs cause it has more flavor)
1/2 to 1 piece of soft Spanish Chorizo per person, slice (I use Bilbao or Palacios brands)
1/2 teaspoon Pimentón/Spanish paprika per person (I use sweet or bittersweet variety)
1 clove minced garlic per person
1/4 cup chopped onions per person
1/8 cup of diced tomatoes per person
2 shrimp or prawns per person (I prefer head-on and shell-on prawns as it adds more flavor)
4 small clams or mussels per person
5 small bay scallops per person (optional)
1 Piquillo peppers, cut in strips per person (or use 1/4 red bell pepper cut into strips per person)
1/4 cup green peas
1/4 cup lima beans
1/4 cup of artichoke hearts, quartered
1/4 cup of cooked Granja beans (optional)
salt and pepper to taste
parsley and lemon wedges for garnish
- Heat chicken broth in a sauce pan and keep warm.
- In a separate sauce pan, toast saffron threads gently over low heat until the aromas are released. Add the white wine, allow to boil then remove from the heat immediately. Set aside
- Heat the “Paellera” pan over medium heat and add enough olive oil to coat the bottom of the pan. When the oil starts to smoke, add the chicken and cook until golden brown and the juice runs clear.
- Add the onions and garlic and sauté until translucent. Add tomatoes and cook until soft.
- Add the chorizo slices and cook until heated. About 1-2 minutes.
- Add the rice, and stir very well until it is well coated with all the juice and oil from the paellera pan. About 1-2 minutes.
- Add the paprika and stir well until it coats everything in the paellera pan into a beautiful orange-red hue. About 1 minute.
- Add the saffron flavoured wine, along with all the saffron threads. Stir for one minute.
- Add the heated chicken broth, stir well making sure that you are scraping the bottom of the pan. Season with salt and pepper. Bring to a simmer.
- When the broth starts simmering, add the piquillo peppers (if using)/red bell peppers, green peas, lima beans, artichoke hearts and Granja beans (if using). Scatter evenly on top of the rice. Adjust the heat to maintain a slow gentle simmer and taste and season with salt pepper.
- After about 5 minutes, add and carefully arrange the seafood on top of the rice and making sure they all have a nice contact with the broth. Push the mussels or clams inside the cooking rice broth making sure that they spaced evenly as the shells will open and expand when cooked**. Squeeze the juice of 1/2 lemon over the paella and cook for another 15 minutes, or until the rice is done. It is very important that you do not stir the paella in this second part of the cooking process to create the “Socarrat”, or the beautiful caramelized crunchy layer of rice and spices that forms on the bottom of the pan. A lot of Spaniards consider the “socarrat” as the best part of paella, and my taste buds agree with them!
- If the rice is too dry or the liquid evaporates quickly, use the spare chicken broth adding 1/8 cup at a time if needed. Make sure to discard any unopened clams or mussels.
- Sprinkle with chopped parsley and garnish with lemon wedges.
Recipe adapted from the Paella recipe from www.spanishtable.com
*I use a 13inch/32cm stainless steel Paellera pan which is big enough to scale this recipe to serve 4-6 people. Traditional paella are cooked on a carbon steel pan as they build flavours over time. Carbon steel paellera requires seasoning and oiling after each use, or they will rust easily if not properly taken care of. I prefer stainless steel paellera pans because they are easier to maintain.
**For proper cooking of mussels and clams another option is to steam them in a separate pan until the shells open when cooked, then added to the paella along with all the mussel/clam juice substituting for some of the chicken broth.