How to Make Paella
Paella is a stunning dish. Its signature pan is low and wide, providing a pleasing frame for the red, saffron-infused arborio rice, bright pink shrimp, black mussels, yellow lemon wedges, and green parsley sprigs. All that color reflects its incredible depth of flavor — smoky, tangy, spicy, and bright. It’s one of those recipes that can feel long-winded and intimidating in scope, but don’t let the layers fool you. All you need to make paella is 90 minutes and little patience.
“Everything in its time,” one of our chefs likes to say of this dish, and it’s true: there’s an orderliness here that’s calming, once you settle into it. It’s a putterer’s dream, really. Once you’ve browned the chorizo and chicken, all you’re doing is adding ingredients to the paella in the correct order, so that they cook to perfection — and then sliding the pan in the oven to finish. Sounds easy, no? Yes!
Paella is a big, generous dish, perfect for entertaining a large group of people. It’s fun to cook with friends around — they can help you by drinking wine and chatting. They can also bring tapas to bolster the chef, like Spanish tortillas and aioli, Manchego and quince paste, and pickled veggies.
But go easy on the snacks: With four proteins and all that flavorsome arborio rice, paella is a hearty, satisfying one-bowl meal. On the other hand, leftover paella makes a fantastic lunch.
Servings: 8 to 10
8 oz ground chorizo, removed from casings
¼ cup olive oil, divided
6 boneless skinless chicken thighs, diced medium
2 medium onions, diced
3 cloves garlic, sliced, reserve 1 Tbsp
2 cups arborio rice
2 14.5-oz cans diced tomatoes with juice
3 cups chicken stock
1 tsp saffron threads
½ lb shrimp
½ lb mussels
½ cup white wine
1 Tbsp lemon juice
1 lemon, cut into wedges for garnish and juicing (1 Tbsp)
2 Tbsp parsley, chopped, divided
¼ cup green onions, sliced for garnish
Salt, to taste
Black pepper, to taste
Preheat the oven to 350º.
In a large paella pan, brown the chorizo over medium-high heat, for about 5 minutes. Remove the meat with a slotted spoon and set aside. Drain off half of the fat from the pan and discard.
Add 2 tablespoons of the olive oil to the pan. Season the chicken with salt and pepper, and add it to the pan, browning it on all sides for about 7 minutes. Remove the chicken with a slotted spoon and reserve the oil in the pan.
Lower the heat to medium, add the onion and garlic (reserving 1 tablespoon of garlic), and sauté until the onions are translucent and fragrant, about 5 minutes.
Add the rice to the pan and lightly toast it, stirring gently for about 3 minutes.
Add the tomatoes, chorizo, and chicken, and stir to incorporate. Pour the chicken stock and saffron threads over the mixture and shake the pan to level out the paella.
Bring the paella to a simmer for about 5 to 7 minutes, allowing the rice to stick to the bottom — no more stirring from this point forward.
Transfer the pan to the oven and bake the paella for 30 to 40 minutes, or until the rice begins to get crispy on top.
When you’ve got about 10 minutes left on the clock, heat the remaining oil in a large sauté pan over medium heat. Add the remaining garlic and the shrimp and cook for 1 to 2 minutes.
Add the mussels, white wine, lemon juice, 1 tablespoon of the parsley, and salt to taste, and simmer until mussels open and the shrimp is bright pink and firm.
Remove the paella from the oven and spoon the seafood over the top. Garnish with the green onions and remaining parsley. Serve hot.