Spanish Paella


The main ingredients in every paella dish are rice, saffron, chicken, and vegetables. From there, ingredients vary depending on the type of paella or region where it’s made. The ingredients in this easy paella recipe include:

Produce: onion, bell pepper, garlic, tomatoes, parsley, frozen peas.
Spices: bay leaf, paprika, saffron, salt and pepper.
Saffron: this may be the most important ingredient, so it’s best to buy high quality. If your grocery store doesn’t carry it, try an International food market, or Amazon. If necessary, substitute 1 teaspoon saffron powder.
Seafood: jumbo shrimp, mussels, calamari.
Chicken thighs: I prefer thighs to breasts in the recipe since they don’t dry out as easily during longer cook times.
Olive Oil: Spanish olive oil , or any good quality olive oil.
White wine.
Spanish Rice: See my notes below about the rice, and possible substitutions.
Chicken Broth: Authentic paella would include making your own fish stock from the discarded shells of seafood. I usually substitute chicken broth, for convenience.

NOTE: Don’t wash the rice before cooking because we want to keep the outer layer of starch. Don’t stir the rice while cooking! Traditional paella cooks a crusty, flavorful rice layer at the bottom of the pan called the socarrat. The socarrat is a key component of authentic paella. Also, stirring the rice will make it mushy.

How to Make Spanish Paella

Sauté: Add olive oil to a skillet over medium heat. Add onion, bell peppers and garlic and sauté until onion is translucent. Add chopped tomato, bay leaf, paprika, saffron, salt and pepper. Stir and cook for 5 minutes.

Add white wine. Cook for 10 minutes.

Add chicken & rice. Add chopped parsley and cook for 1 minute.

Add broth. Pour the broth slowly all around the pan and jiggle the pan to get the rice into an even layer. (Do not stir the mixture going forward!). Bring mixture to a boil. Reduce heat to medium low. Give the pan a gentle shake back and forth once or twice during cooking.

Cook uncovered: Cook paella uncovered for 15-18 minutes, then nestle the shrimp, mussels and calamari into the mixture, sprinkle peas on top and continue to cook (without stirring) for about 5 more minutes. Watch for most of the liquid to be absorbed and the rice at the top nearly tender. (If for some reason your rice is still uncooked, add ¼ cup more water or broth and continue cooking).

Cover and let rest. Remove pan from heat and cover pan with a lid or tinfoil. Place a kitchen towel over the lid and allow to rest for 10 minutes.

Serve. Garnish with fresh parsley and lemon slices. Serve.

Vegetarian Paella: Omit the meat and seafood and add extra vegetables, like artichoke, green beans, mushroom, olives and asparagus. Add vegetables in step one of the recipe along with the bell peppers.

This recipe is from Lauren Allen at Tastes Better from Scratch.