This traditional Spanish paella with be your next favourite food on the table. Simple rice cooked with seafood, meat and finely chopped vegetables.
What is Paella ?
We will be travelling to Spain with this Paella recipe. No, I haven’t been in Spain yet! And yes, I would love to go and see this beautiful piece of land, this wonderful and colourful culture, that Spain has to offer. One of the most colourful and traditional dishes in Spain is Paella Valenciana or you might have heard just PAELLA.
I have been asking myself why I haven’t been making this traditional Spanish dish more often. It is the simplest and flavorful dish you can find in any food culture. Paella can offer flavor of sea, land and hearty vegetables. It is bursting in flavor and that is why I love this colourful dish so much.
Paella is often made from rice, seafood like shrimps, mussels, calamari, chicken and I added also mergues sausages as one of my friend suggested to me. And it really marries so well, all these flavours.
It is really easy to make Paella
Do not feel intimidated by many ingredients, what am I going to use for this traditional Spanish Paella. Because paella is very versatile, you can go with any kind of meat, seafood or vegetable, it is not necessary, to go with all the kinds of meats or seafood I am using in this recipe. You can choose to go only one sort of meat or only one sort of seafood.
What meat or seafood to use for Paella
- boneless chicken thighs
- merguez or chorizo sausages
It might look to be little too much of ingredients, but I love to mix it all! Seafood, chicken and sausage. It gives unforgettable flavor to the rice, that I always mix all these meats and seafood together.
Herbs & spices used in Paella
- saffron powder
- fresh parsley
- smoked sweet paprika (optional)
Herbs are super important in this traditional Spanish dish. Saffron is the main spice to use, when making Paella. Saffron is the most expensive spice on Earth and is the red-yellow stigma of the crocus flower and must be hand-picked during short annual flowering seasons. Each flower produces only three stigmas, so it takes approximately 150 flowers to yield just one gram of dry saffron. I use it in powder form.
Vegetables used in Paella
- red bell pepper
- frozen peas
- frozen corn
- diced tomatoes (optional)
How to make Traditional Spanish Paella
I always start paella with sauté vegetables on a large skillet (you can also use special Paella pan). I use medium size onion very finely chopped, together with garlic. These are two first ingredients I sauté on vegetable oil. Vegetable oil is recommended for browning the meat.
Diced tomatoes are optional, I haven’t used them in this recipe, because I find it makes the rice more acid. If you do not mind having paella little acid, then go ahead and use them, I will mention it below in the Ingredients list, that it is optional to use diced tomatoes.
While all the vegetables are browning on the skillet, I push them a bit on the side and start to sauté chicken thighs and sausages in the same skillet. When the chicken thighs and sausages are done, I remove them from the skillet on a small plate. Then I add spices, seasoning and chicken stock.
For paella, you can use any kind of white rice (better short-grain rice). In most recipes, they will recommend Arborio rice, which is most common to use for risotto, because it creates smooth texture. But by adding a bit more of chicken stock, it will create the same smooth texture as well. Important, we do not stir or open the lid of the skillet, once the rice is cooking.
Which brings me to the chicken stock. Now you will be adding chicken stock and washed rice and stir this all together well. Here is the moment, where you can add diced tomatoes, if you wish to. It is optional in this recipe. All this is happening on medium heat, so it will lightly bubble. Once the rice is well stirred with all the blend of herbs and chicken stock, you will immerse all the meats and seafood in the cooking rice. Cover the skillet with the lid and cook on medium low heat for 15 minutes.
More rice recipes
This should prevent the rice to dry out. If you keep the lid closed, it will keep the moisture locked inside and the rice will be juicy. On the bottom of course the best par, light crusty film will be created. I always let it covered for extra 5 minutes, once I remove the skillet from the heat.
One important thing when you will be using mussels. You have to wash and clean the mussels with the brush, before immersing them inside the rice. As well as, once the paella is cooked, check for the unopened mussels. Those which didn’t open, must be discarded immediately. You do not want to be sick from spoiled mussels.
Before serving this delicious Spanish paella, garnish with fresh parsley and drizzle with half of a lemon. Serve Paella immediately, while hot!
TRADITIONAL SPANISH PAELLA
- Large skillet with lid
- 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
- 1 medium onion finely chopped
- 4 large garlic cloves minced
- 1 medium red bell pepper finely chopped
- 1/2 cup chopped fresh parsley
- 6 boneless chicken thighs
- 4 mergues sausages or chorizo sausages (optional)
- 1 tsp saffron in powder
- salt & pepper
- 1 tsp smoked sweet paprika
- 4 cups chicken broth
- 4 cups uncooked short-grain rice
- 1 cup diced tomatoes (optional)
- 1 cup small scallops
- 8 unpeeled jumbo shrimp
- 12 mussels scrubbed and cleaned (unopened)
- 1 cup frozen green peas
- 1 cup frozen corn
- 1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
- In a large skillet, heat 1 tbsp of vegetable oil, over medium-high heat.
- Add finely chopped onion and garlic, and sauté for 2 minutes on medium-high heat.
- Add finely chopped red bell peppers, parsley, saffron & smoked paprika, continue sauté on medium heat for another 5 minutes. Season with salt & pepper and stir occasionally.
- Move all the vegetables on the side of a skillet & saute seasoned chicken thighs and mergues sausages in the same skillet. Approximately 2 minutes each side.
- Remove chicken thighs & mergues sausages on a small plate and set aside.
- Add to the skillet chicken stock, washed rice & frozen corn with green peas. Stir all to combine. (Optional; now you can add diced tomatoes as well).
- Bring the rice to the gentle boil and immerse gently chicken thighs, mergues sausages, shrimps, scallops and mussels inside the rice. Cover the skillet with lid & let the paella cook on medium low heat for 15 minutes. Do not open the lid.
- After 15 minutes all the liquid should have evaporated. Check for unopened mussels, and discard those immediately. Keep only opened mussels.
- Once paella is cooked, sprinkle with fresh chopped parsley and drizzle with fresh lemon juice. Serve immediately!
- For rice, you can use classic short grain rice or arborio rice. If you are going to use arborio rice, please follow the instructions how to cook arborio rice on the label.
- If the rice is dry, drizzle extra 2 tbsp of olive oil at the end of cooking.
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