Paella is one of the most popular dishes in Spain, and originated in the Valencia region which is on the central-eastern coast of Spain along the Mediterranean Sea. There are three well established types of Paella (and of course, many more variations), all including the basic ingredients of rice (calasparra or bomba), saffron and olive oil:
- Valencian Paella – meat (usually rabbit, chicken, duck or snails) and beans
- Seafood Paella – only seafood, no meats or beans
- Mixed Paella – combination of meats, seafood and vegetables
My recipe below is for a Mixed Paella.
On our Foodie Adventure to the Catalonia region of Spain we spend one evening creating a huge pan of “mixed” Paella with large shrimp, clams, mussels, calamari, chicken thighs and chorizo.
This authentic “Pallera” (paella pan) is made in Spain. It can be used on a gas or charcoal grill, on the stovetop, or in the oven. It is made of carbon steel and is durable and conducts heat well.
The pan is large enough to serve 6 to 10 people. This size usually fits over two standard burners. The pan is made of carbon steel (aka polished steel, or acero pulido), which is ideal for paella since it conducts heat quickly and evenly. The pan is thin but quite rigid and durable, with a hammered dimpled bottom. The handles are made of steel and painted red. Carbon steel is the traditional material for paella, and some paella devotees feel that it enhances flavor.
As with any raw steel pan, it requires some care: you must dry the pan right after washing it and then rub the inside with a little vegetable oil to prevent rusting. If the pan does rust, a few passes with steel wool takes it right off.
Bomba rice from Spain is the ideal rice for making an authentic Paella. Bomba rice is a small short grain rice (much smaller than Arborio rice which is used for risotto) and comes from the region near Valencia, Spain.
Saffron is known as “the king of spices,” and as the world’s most expensive spice. Saffron is made from the dried stigmas of the flower species crocus. Each flower of the crocus sativus has only three pistils, and these must be picked by hand. Over 70,000 flowers are required to yield 1 pound of saffron. The very best saffron is grown in Valencia, Spain.
PaellaCourse: EntreesCuisine: SpanishDifficulty: Medium
8 chicken thighs
Kosher salt and black pepper
1 pound large (16/20 ct) shrimp (peeled, leaving tail fins attached and deveined)
Optional: small clams, calamari (sliced) and/or mussels - cleaned
1 quart chicken stock
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/2 pound chorizo sausages, cut into 1-inch pieces
1 large Spanish onion, diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 red bell pepper, diced
4 plum tomatoes, cored and diced
2 Tablespoons tomato paste
1/2 pound green beans
2 teaspoons sweet paprika
1/4 cup coarse chopped Italian parsley
1 sprig of fresh rosemary
1 pinch saffron
1 1/2 cups bomba or calasparra rice
1 lemon, quartered
- Season the chicken legs and thighs with salt and pepper.
- Heat the chicken stock to a simmer.
- Place the pallera (Paella pan) over medium-heat and add the olive oil.
- Add the sliced chorizo and cook, turning until just browned on the outside. Remove from the pan and set aside.
- Add the chicken to the pan and cook for 3 minutes to brown and turn. Cook and turn until all sides are golden brown. The meat needs to be cooked through, so it may be necessary to put larger pieces in the oven to finish the cooking. Remove and set aside.
- Add the onion, garlic, and red bell pepper to the hot oil and cook, stirring for a few minutes to soften. Add the diced tomatoes and cook for 30 seconds.
- Spoon in the tomato paste and stir, continually for 2 minutes, lightly browning the paste.
- Add the meat back to the pan along with the green beans, paprika, parsley and rosemary. Stir well and cook for 2 minutes.
- Add the Bomba rice to the pan and stir for a few minutes, lightly browning the rice. Stir in the saffron.
- Cook the rice until it is slightly translucent and add enough warm chicken stock to cover the whole mixture. Lower the heat on the burner to medium, keeping it at a steady boil.
- Stir the mixture a few times in the first 5 minutes, adding stock as necessary to keep the rice fully covered. Cover the pan, reduce the heat to medium-low and let it cook another 10 minutes, adding stock as necessary to keep the rice submerged.
- Add the shrimp and other optional seafood to the pan, cover and cook for an additional 5 minutes, covered. Cook until the rice on the top is al dente. Browning the rice a little is good for the dish.
- When the rice on top is still quite al dente, take the pan off of the heat. Allow the paella to rest, covered, for 15 minutes. Do not remove the lid and peak during this time. This steaming stage is essential in creating the perfect paella.
- Uncover the paella, garnish with lemon wedges and serve immediately.