Paella is a delicious rice dish and probably one of the most famous in Spanish cuisine. The dish consists of rice, vegetables, meat, fish, and pretty much whatever you want. Paella is an extremely traditional dish, one that your wita (abuela) would say you’re making wrong, even if it’s by the recipe exactly.
The truth of the matter is there are many different ways to correctly make paella, but there are certain things you can never forget. The beautifully savory dish has been blessing tables with its presence for centuries, and we are so excited to celebrate it on National Paella Day.
Before we get into the recipe I must say we are not the food network so we don’t really have the budget to “Do-Up” this Paella, but gladly neither do you. My favorite part about this dish is its versatility. You can really put whatever you want in it.
If you want to ball out with lobster tails and foreign clams go for it, but you can make it just as good with regular grocery store finds like shrimp and clams. Some people even make their Paella with just chicken, but for the sake of making the abuelas proud and for National Paella day we will definitely be including shellfish in ours.
What You’ll Need
- 2 Cups of uncooked rice (Bomba rice if you have it)
- 1 Large can of crushed tomatoes
- 1 White onion
- 2 Sweet bell peppers
- 3 Cloves of garlic
- 1 Small can of tomato paste
- 3 Tablespoons of olive oil
- 1 Cup of Water
- 2 Cups of stock
- 3 Chicken thighs
- 1 Lemon
- 2 Teaspoons of paprika
- 1 Teaspoon of pepper flakes (optional)
- 2 Tablespoons of salt
- 15-20 Saffron stems (If you can get them, they are very important to make true Paella)
- Shellfish placed to preference. (We used about 30 large shrimp and 15 muscles)
—This recipe cooks for about 6 People—
Before we go through the step by step we have to keep it real… Even though we are on a budget we are about to make the best dang Paella that could possibly be made without breaking the bank. Whether you spend 100 dollars or 25, this will be your favorite Paella recipe for the rest of your life. Let’s begin!
Time to Cook!
- Start by cooking your 3 chicken thighs with whatever seasoning you want in a well-oiled saucepan on medium to high heat just until almost fully cooked. We are doing this step to get a nice fry on the chicken because it will finish cooking in the rice. Once you are done take the chicken out of the pan, and chop it up into desired-sized pieces.
- Dice up your onion, bell peppers, and garlic. Then put the onion in the already hot saucepan with 3 tablespoons of olive oil, and cook and saute down for about 3 minutes. After adding your bell peppers, cook and stir for another 3 minutes or so. Once your onions have become almost clear and the smell is unavoidable, add your diced garlic to the mix and stir for another 3 minutes.
- Arrange the cooked vegetables on the pan in a way for there to be a gap in the middle. Add another splash of olive oil in the middle and add your paprika and pepper flakes (still optional) to the center to toast them in the oil. For about 30 seconds.
- Mix the entire pan together making sure everything is combined nicely. Then add your small can of tomato paste and combine the ingredients again. (at this point you can add a packet of Sazon seasoning if it would pain you not to)
- Add your large can of crushed tomatoes to the well-mixed pan and continue stirring. Keep mixing until the water from the can seems to have reduced down.
- Put your saffron stems in your 2 cups of stock and heat them up. For this recipe we used our own homemade shrimp stock using the shells from the shrimp we will be using but any stock will work. Do not put it in the pan yet.
- Put your pieces of 3 mostly cooked chicken thighs into the large saucepan with the rest of the ingredients. Combine well.
- Add your two cups of rice to the pan and combine everything completely. Continuously stirring the pan.
- Your saffron stem should now be well infused with your stock at this point, you can add the 2 cups of stock to your saucepan. Once the stock is well incorporated you can add your cup of water or as much as you feel is needed depending on the size of your pan. The water should be visible and cover most of the rice.
- This next step is the best step, walk away and let the Paella do its thing. Let the pan simmer for about ten minutes or until the rice has soaked up all that flavor. Do not stir the Paella for the rest of the recipe.
- While the Paella simmers you should start to get whatever shellfish you are using ready and think about how you’ll place them in a decorative way. Very important for an impressive Paella.
- Once the water is reduced to the point where rice is more exposed, Place the shellfish on top of the Paella in whatever way you decide
- Continue to let the Paella simmer until it seems the rice is almost fully cooked, then place tin foil over the paella and let it cook for a final 5 minutes or so, the steam is what will fully cook the shellfish.
- Remove the tin foil to reveal your beautiful Paella creation! Turn the heat off and finish of the recipe by adding slices of lemon on the top, decoratively of course.
- Enjoy the delicious Paella you just finished!
If you did the recipe right you should have beautifully cooked flavorful rice, fully cooked shellfish and chicken, and a nice slightly burnt layer of crispy rice on the bottom. This meal is great for a nice seaside meal out, or maybe even a cozy day in. There is no doubt that this Paella will warm your heart and have you craving more.