Visit Spain: A Paella Recipe

paella recipe

I remember the smell from the stalls on Portobello Road. Those huge vats of delicious goodness, the fragrant steam wafting through the chilly London air. You could close your eyes and transport yourself to a Mediterranean climate through that smell… almost. The dampness of a London winter would quickly jolt you back to reality.

It was a cold December when a small group of us decided to break out and head south. Barcelona was the destination of choice. It was slightly warmer at least, and definitely less rainy. And I could finally try that the paella I’d seen in the London markets in it’s country of origin: Spain.

recipe for paella

Apparently there’s some debate about the original recipe for paella. Paella valenciana consists of ingredients that aren’t readily available in most supermarkets around the world, like rabbit and snail. So modern society has adjusted it a bit – added shrimp (or prawns) and chorizo instead. It still remains a signature dish of Spain, and a must-try for anyone traveling in the region.

paella recipe

This paella recipe is adapted from a recipe for paella mixta from Saveur. It’s admittedly an Americanized version, in the interest of expense and ease of finding ingredients, but it’s actually quite good. Because really, where would one find rabbit and snail in the average grocery store? But trust me, it turned out pretty amazing.

Prep time: 15 minutes

Cook time: 45 minutes

Ingredients:

  • 1 lb. boneless skinless chicken thighs, cut into cubes
  • 1/2 lb. large shrimp, peeled and deveined
  • 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 4 oz. dry-cured Spanish chorizo, cut into medallion coins
  • 1 tbsp. smoked paprika
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 3 dried bay leaves
  • 3 medium tomatoes, diced
  • 1 small onion, diced
  • 7 cups chicken broth
  • 2 1/2 cups Vigo saffron yellow rice
  • 12 oz. Vigo marinated artichoke hearts
  • 2/3 cup jarred roasted red peppers, cut into pieces or strips
  • 1 lb. mussels, cleaned and debearded
  • Kosher salt and pepper

paella recipe

Directions:

  1. Prep the ingredients by mincing the garlic, dicing the tomatoes and onion, cubing the chicken, slicing the chorizo into medallions, peeling and deveining the shrimp, and rinsing and debearding the mussels.
  2. Heat the oil in a large pan. Season the chicken and shrimp with salt and pepper and add them, with the chorizo, to the oil. Cook until browned, about 5 minutes. Remove the shrimp and put on a plate to reseve for later cooking.
  3. Add paprika, garlic, bay leaves, tomatoes and onion to pan. Cook, stirring occasionally, until onion is softened.
  4. Add chicken broth, turn heat to high and bring to a boil.
  5. Add rice, distributing evenly. Stir lightly with a spoon if necessary, but don’t over-stir. Add artichoke hearts and peppers. Let it cook until rice absorbs most of the water, roughly 15 minutes.
  6. Reduce heat and add shrimp and mussels, hinge side down. Continue cooking until mussels have opened and rice as absorbed most of the rest of the water. Cover and let sit for a few minutes until all liquid is absorbed.

Plate and enjoy with a glass of Spanish red!

paella recipe

{Image credits: 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 }


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  • I absolutely love me some paella – it’s like Spanish gumbo! We sampled paella at various places when we were in Barcelona, but my favorite was at a little restaurant we visited on the waterfront. Gotta look up the name!

    • Isn’t it amazing?! It’s the Spanish version of comfort food for me. The version we made turned out well – needed to let the mussels open for longer, but the overall flavors were delicious. Thank goodness for the internet so we can bring these dishes home to our kitchens!

  • That looks delicious! I must admit I’ve never dared to make paella at home. When we got married in Barcelona it was imperative to have Paella on the menu. Now every time I have it, it reminds me of our wedding 🙂

    • This was my very first attempt at making it myself, and I must say it came out pretty darn good! What a lovely connection though between your wedding and paella – I am a strong believer that food is one of the top ways to really experience a place, and having it connected to such a positive memory makes that even more powerful. You’ll have to give it a go at home now! 🙂