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Paella Recipe

77 comments

I haven’t had paella in Spain, but if I ever hit up Valencia I know paella will be on my must eat list. Paella has bits of everything I love: rice, seafood, and most importantly, crispy burnt parts. Not everyone is into that toasted rice flavour, but I think the socarrat is the best part.

If you want the all important burnt bits, or socarrat, you’re going to need a paella pan. Paella is a dish where the cooking vessel is crucial. The width of a paella pan helps with rice distribution, ensuring that the rice cooks in a thin layer. Paella pans are sized by width and not height. So a pan that feeds two is generally about 10-12 inches and a pan that serves eight is about 18 inches.

The wider the pan, the more people it feeds. They even have pans that are 4 feet wide! Last Christmas Mike and I were in London and we saw two giant paella pans at Covent Garden. The saffron deliciousness wafting through the chilly air was so tempting so we decided to join the huge queue for a taste. I’m sure Hola Paella isn’t the most authentic paella in London, but it’s attracts a lot of attention and was a perfect snack to warm us up on a cold day.

After our giant paella experience I vowed that I would make paella at home. For my first attempt I tried to use a cast iron skillet and risotto rice. Big mistake: while the rice was tasty, it was more like a strange rice pilaff risotto and nothing like paella. This time around I armed myself with the right ingredients and the right cookware.

Just as important as the paella pan is the rice. Paella should be made with Calasparra or Bomba rice, medium grain rices grown in Spain. Spanish rice is chubby and round. It’s shape makes it ideal for absorbing large amounts of liquid while still staying somewhat firm. In traditional paellas, the rice kernels stay separate – in no way are they creamy or mushy.

The rice really is the best part of a paella. I can eat loads and loads of that smoky, saffron flavoured rice and I have. I made a giant pan of paella for Mike, myself and a good friend thinking there would definitely be leftovers (the recipe says serves 6-8), but the three of use polished it off in one sitting. We totally fell into simultaneous food comas afterwards, but it was oh so worth it.

Mixed Paella loosely adapted from saveur.com
serves 6-8 or 3 very hungry people

  • 30 threads saffron, crushed (a scant 1⁄2 tsp.)
    4 chicken thighs
    10-12 large shrimp, peeled and deveined
    salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
    1⁄2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
    fresh chorizo, removed from casing and crumbled
    1 tablespoon smoked paprika
    3 cloves garlic, minced
    3 medium tomatoes, minced or grated on the largest holes of a box grater (discard the skin)
    1 small onion, minced
    7 cups chicken broth
    2 1⁄2 cups short-grain rice, preferably Valencia or bomba
    1 red pepper sliced into 1 inch strips
    12 clams

Put saffron and 1⁄4 cup hot water in a small bowl; let sit for 15 minutes. Season chicken and shrimp with salt and pepper. Heat oil in a 16″–18″ paella pan over medium-high heat. Add chicken, shrimp, and chorizo and cook, turning occasionally, until browned, about 5 minutes. Transfer shrimp to a plate, leaving meats in pan. Add paprika, garlic, tomatoes, and onions to pan and cook, stirring often, until onions soften, about 6 minutes. Add reserved saffron mixture and broth, season with salt, and bring to a boil over high heat.

Sprinkle in rice, distribute evenly with a spoon, and add peppers. Cook, without stirring, until rice has absorbed most of the liquid, 12-15 minutes. (If your pan is larger than the burner, rotate it every two minutes so different parts are over the heat and the rice cooks evenly.) Reduce heat to low, add reserved shrimp, and nestle in clams hinge side down; cook, without stirring, until clams have opened and rice has absorbed the liquid and is al dente, 5–10 minutes more. Turn heat to high for 1-2 minutes to create the socarrat. Remove pan from heat, cover with aluminum foil, and let sit for 5 minutes before enjoying.

**Paella is totally customizable so feel free to make this dish vegetarian, all seafood, or all meats.

77 Commentsadd yours

  1. I have only somewhat been interested in Paella, but after reading this post, I’m definitely going to try it! Thanks!

  2. I haven’t made this in a while, and have made it with only seafood in the past, will definitely try with chicken and chorizo! Love that photo of the saffron!

  3. I love your blog. So I hope don’t upset you with my comment.
    But chorizo in a paella is prophanaty. Paella can be made with chicken and rabbit or with seafood, never together. And vegetables! All paellas should have vegetables.
    Sorry in Valencia, paella is our big dish, and this is rice with things, I’m sure it was delicious, but it’s rice with things.
    Anyway, thanks for your work

    Mrs. Hopper on July 28, 2012 at 1:26 am
    • Please! Paella varies from region to region and Valencia does not have the monopoly on paella nor how it should be made – my Mom who was from Fernancaballero made it with pork,chicken, shrimp, mussels and calamares when times were good! Less if times were tight. And paella with chorizo is absoultely wonderful!!! I personally make it with tomate frito, chicken breast, pork, shrimp and chorizo and instead of chicken broth use seafood broth. For my vegetable I use peas but green beans are tasty too. So to call any dish that doesn’t fall into your narrow scope of experience as “rice with things” is a little insulting.

      Julie Peters on July 29, 2012 at 9:07 am
      • Well said Julie, to call any dish that doesn’t fall into your narrow scope of experience as “rice with things” is a little insulting. My father would make it with chicken, shrimp, lobster, chorizo, and would at times throw in fish. My grandfather who was a spaniard loved it.

    • hehehe I agree with your comment. And yes, vegetables are really important in any rice!

  4. Every August we make one very like this at our friends’ cottage on Plymouth Long Beach, except we supplement the shellfish with a lobster! The lobster adds a great splash of color in the middle of that big pan. Maybe it’s not authentically Spanish, but if you want fresh and local fish for the dish, lobster’s what we’ve got!

  5. My father was from Valencia and my mother from Alicante. Our family have cooked and eaten many paella’s. The beauty of this dish is that you make it with what’s regionally available and what you like. We always had it with chicken, pork, clams, mussels, shrimp, fresh string beans or peas and chick peas. It’s best made outdoors on an open fire to incorporate that “smokey” flavor. My children and their friends love to watch it being made (and eating it!) it is a very “social” meal. Makes for great memories.

  6. A very festive meal, this is. Even the color is really enticing. I would love to try sometime but the complexity gives me the hesitations. You have presented the recipe however in so easy a manner that I am inspired to try this really soon…Thanks!
    Anyways, your phenomenal photos have caught our attention, we have been in the lookout for unique and interesting bloggers since we have launched our food photo gallery http://www.yumgoggle.com/gallery/ This will allow you to showcase all your great work and share it with our visitors. We’d be proud to have your work as part of our growing collection to continue to have a larger reach and further inspire all fellow food lovers out there!

  7. I’ve never made paella, but that clearly must change! I totally want to make a big batch and eat it all week for lunch.

  8. Hello,
    I love your blog and as usual it is a deliciously fun article.
    There are as many kind of paellas as regions (just like you say “customizable”), as families and as each and every member of a same family (in mine nobody makes it the same way with very different results )… Like couscous or meatballs recipes, everybody has its own…
    Other people (the ones with the “truth”) will ask “why didn’t you do the “sofrito”?” and so on and so on and so on… But in fact, there’s no “real” recipe…
    I’m sure yours was wonderful…

  9. NEVER add chorizo to a paella. That’s not even Spanish.

    Luis_San_Co on July 30, 2012 at 8:27 am
    • We are talking about Spanish chorizo not Mexican chorizo…Completely different chorizo…

      Julie Peters on August 11, 2012 at 5:24 pm
    • The referenced saveur.com recipe calls for the correct style of chorizo but the blog’s author (mistakenly IMO) switched to Mexican chorizo.

      I made the same mistake in my first paella, it was kind of a disaster. Sliced andouille or other cajun style sausage is a tasty and cheaper substitute for spanish chorizo.

  10. I love paella, and the bomba rice really makes a difference. And yes, eating it in Valencia is amazing, partly because most paella restaurants are by the beach so you get that ambiance with it. There are lots of paella purists out there (as you will note in the comments) but like you said, it really is a pan where you can make your own creation. And yes, I love the socarrat too (when it turns out)! ;-)

  11. Ouch that giant paella is killing me. Thank you for your ‘how to choose the proper pan’ to cook this type of food. It’s really helpful.

  12. Wow, every dish looks amazing including this one. Keep up the good work and continue making us drool. ^^

    • I am sure you have heard by now but in the true Valencia fashion – newspaper is added as the top (after the whole dish has come to a good rolling boil) heat is reduced (fire burned down at the exact appropriate time; even building the fire is an art!

  13. Should I have the lid on while the rice is absorbing the broth?

    • People!!!!
      She is not claiming to have the “one and only, the greatest paella in the world”…off course
      everyone will have their own versions!
      If you blog to criticize…..you are missing the point!!!!!!!!!!!
      Great pictures!!!

    • sorry replied to the wrong question.

  14. can you make an aioli please to go with the paella!

  15. Love your blog! Keep it up!

  16. I’m sorry, but I’m spanish, from Valencia, and this is NOT paella

  17. Nice photos! Guys didn’t you read the whole post? “**Paella is totally customizable so feel free to make this dish vegetarian, all seafood, or all meats.”Keep in blogging! By the way, the shrimps are the best part :)

  18. I used to work at a restaurant that made the best Paella ever! I haven’t had the courage to make it on my own but might just have to give this recipe a try. I’d love to ramp up the spiciness of this dish…any suggestions?

    Xoxo,
    @ladylux

  19. Oh the Valencian paella is the best!!

  20. My goodness, this is amazing, you are amazing – can’t wait to try all the recipes on your blog! Keep up the great work :)

  21. I love your pictures. You’re a very talented food stylist, cook, writer, and food photographer. I’m a fellow blogger who’s trying to learn how to take better food photographs as my photos are really bad. I was wondering if you also teach for a fee via email or in person.

  22. Looks delicious

  23. I was looking for a recipe for Paella. I’ve found it. And i found a great food blog. thanks.

  24. This is a good food blog. Albeit I can not eat each and every recipe but Paella. Thanks

  25. Wow, great blog and photography. What’s going on with the hiatus though?

  26. Ooooohhh, this looks delicious and the photos are fantastic, great job! I’ve stumbled on this page about trends in food and various market research related to the topic: http://www.researchspy.com/ Food sites are my favourite place to go on the web!

  27. Oh, gosh.
    could you let me be one of your dinner member?
    Look soooo delicious!

  28. hi..
    This is a great blog. Recipes found here makes me wanna start cooking.

    regards
    “kate”

  29. I love Paella! Fantastic recipe! Thanks.

  30. I had many Paellas in Spain (and even a very good one in Amsterdam!), but I’m telling you none of them looked so amazing. What a fantastic picture! Even the (btw Spanish) boyfriend turned his had to have a look at it…

  31. Love these yummy recipes! I look forward to more!

  32. Thank you for the wonderful recipe! I cooked paella for my girlfriend and son tonight for a special Valentines dinner. I added scallops, carrots and greenbeans to your recipe. I grew up with a Hawaiian grandfather who loved to make paella and he always added the carrots and greenbeans. I am just now coming out of the food coma, and the family loved it.

  33. I’m looking forward of cooking this dish in my kitchen.

    Thanks a lot for this recipe.

    :)

    @AljhonMarkino on March 8, 2013 at 8:47 pm
  34. I made the Mixed Paella and my goodness was it delicious. I highly recommend this recipe. The recipe produced food as good looking as the photographs!

  35. I like to eat paella food, paella food generally made in simple rice but i like mixed paella or rice ,sea food, meat and vegetable.

  36. yummmm i love it
    thank u for this great paella

  37. I am Spanish (since I was born!) and I’ve only seen using chorizo in Paella here in London. Original Paella does NOT include chorizo. Come on, think about it. We’re using fresh ingredients, fresh fish, expensive saffron… Why to mask the gorgeousness of these ingredients with the flavour of chorizo?

  38. I spent part of my childhood in Madrid and paella was a favorite. Our maid made paella with chicken, pork, chorizo and snails. It was what she made for the kids when the parents were entertaining and serving steak. Lucky us!!! When we moved back to the states we substituted clams and shrimp for the snails. Valencia does not have the market on the only paella. It truly depends on the region and what is available. I grow saffron in my garden now because I love paella and I use saffron in many other dishes as well.

  39. This is yummy! Going to try this!

  40. Looks delicious,Thanks a lot for this recipe.

  41. I don’t care about what other’s opinion is. I love Paella period. Haha. You’re so great at photography and cooking, hope I’ll be like you someday *wink* =)))

  42. I think this is a really good blog, but I agree, I am half Valencian-half Londoner and this rice dish traditionally started by adding what was available for the rice field workers at the time. So you can interpret this as freely as you like. But, if you wish to make a good quality Paella and true to the original one, then you must not add many of the ingredients above and specially not chorizo.

    My reason for this isn’t only to keep the authenticity, but also because of the greasiness that chorizo will instantly add to the rice, avoiding it from cooking to perfection and never the less the strong flavour that indeed masquerades the dish.

    I feel the same with the sort of chicken you might use, if you use breast it will become vey dry and therefore not appealing and the same for prawns, if you add them already peeled, they will become dry and tasteless. I understand many people do this for the comfort of not peeling them or because they find them repulsive but just ruins the prawns.

    Anyway, enough with my opinion, I managed to bore myself here.

    I feel other sorts of rice with other ingredients are either, arroces al horno, or may as well be called Spanish rices.

    GO GO Paella LOVERS!

    • I like your advice. I’ve made Paella 3 times in this past week, as I am gearing up for Catering Paella for 60 in one month and I want to make it correctly. As it is for my friends 60th Birthday, and she is Puerto Rican. Can’t mess it up . So I’m experimenting with the stock. The last time I made it I used bottled clam juice and a little chicken stock and a little white wine, and sweet paprika with just a little smoked paprika. I used basmati rice, but it doesn’t quite do it, so I ordered some Calasperra rice. I used andouille sausage – No thanks, it doesn’t blend well with the other flavors. Used chicken thighs, and prawns & clams – that’s the winning combination. I like lots of sweet red bell pepper and peas. Do you ever marinate the chicken before cooking ? Use any kinds of culinary herbs ? What kind of stock do you like to use ? I am open to suggestions -

  43. Am I supposed to cover the pan after I put the rice in and cook it without stirring for 12-15 minutes? What about when I reduce the heat to low and add the seafood?

  44. Very brave of you to try the variations. We use chicken thighs, Portugese chorizo and shrimp. Try shelling the shrimp and adding them 5-7 minutes before the finish of the dish. Just tuck them down in the rice and they will take care of themselves.

  45. Amazing post and blog all together. I never get tired of looking at the photography and I find it inspiring, intense, and in cases dramatic, always edgy and super cool. I love paella too. I’ve made it plenty of times. I’ve had it in Spain too… actually, it is hard to find paella made from scratch in restaurants there, there’s this company that makes them and sells them frozen to tons of places.. it’s kinda sad. But making paella is time consuming so I can see why this is happening there. In the US, if I want paella, very likely it will be made from scratch because there’s a least a 45 minute wait. But nothing like making it at home the way we like it :)

  46. AARRGGHH! I was about to begin this dish using a 16″ cast iron skillet. Pretty sure I may need to add one more important item before I begin, a proper Paella pan. Thanks the good advice, and for you beautifully styled, photographed & presented material. A++!

    MotherSquid on July 4, 2013 at 11:53 am
  47. well said Bravo CURIOUSTUMMIES
    let’s recap

    I think this is a really good blog, but I agree, I am half Valencian-half Londoner and this rice dish traditionally started by adding what was available for the rice field workers at the time. So you can interpret this as freely as you like. But, if you wish to make a good quality Paella and true to the original one, then you must not add many of the ingredients above and specially not chorizo.

    My reason for this isn’t only to keep the authenticity, but also because of the greasiness that chorizo will instantly add to the rice, avoiding it from cooking to perfection and never the less the strong flavour that indeed masquerades the dish.

    I feel the same with the sort of chicken you might use, if you use breast it will become vey dry and therefore not appealing and the same for prawns, if you add them already peeled, they will become dry and tasteless. I understand many people do this for the comfort of not peeling them or because they find them repulsive but just ruins the prawns.

    Anyway, enough with my opinion, I managed to bore myself here.

    I feel other sorts of rice with other ingredients are either, arroces al horno, or may as well be called Spanish rices.

    GO GO Paella LOVERS!

  48. Wow the presentation is very attractive and most of the ingredients are not hard to find. But I was thinking what will I substitute for the saffron to make the dish as tasty as yours. I will definitely try your recipe if I’m ready. Thanks!

  49. I am food lover person. Fantastic recipe!. I am going to make this today in my home.

    Thanks
    Anything Indian

  50. Love paella and I’m chuckling a bit at the “things” comment as I like a fatty pork sausage (kielbasa) in my paella…the pork plays well with the seafood and the chicken.

  51. What’s up, after reading this remarkable post i am too glad to share my experience here with colleagues.

  52. We lived in Spain for 12 years and had plenty of paella meals with friends. Your’s looks beautiful and delicious! –like a Spanish mom whipped it up!

  53. We made this for dinner tonight. This is a terrific recipe

  54. Looks yummy!

  55. Why wasn’t all of the rice cooked evenly in my paella? It took a lot longer than the recipe said, I had to add extra broth but still had about 5 % not fully cooked…. What should I do next time?

  56. I don’t want to disappoint your followers, but the official paella is not with sea food, is not with chorizo and is not with chicken. In theory the authentic paella is only with rabbit.
    But, whatever, who cares about the official! Actually the important thing about paella is the process of cocking the rice. And your is perfect! and, by the way, an interesting mix putting chorizo inside. I will try it!

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