Paella 6 Comments

Oct 17, 2009

I have always been in awe of paella. It’s the one recipe that I’m afraid to attempt on my own. Paella seems complicated to me. Getting rice cooked perfectly without any ingredients is hard enough, but adding chicken, chorizo, mussels, clams, shrimp and an array of vegetables and spices makes it a daunting task. I’ve read stories that without the right pan, paella doesn’t cook properly.

How do you get all the ingredients to cook perfectly at the same time to create that mouth-watering bite of food? Lucky for me, my friend Jordan (who is a great chef!) organized a Spanish fiesta cooking class. His task was to demystify paella.

Here is what I discovered: there are about six key steps involved in cooking a paella. Most of them are simple; layering and building flavor is what creates a successful paella. You need to cook the chicken, steam the mussels and clams, boil the stock; sauté chorizo and vegetables, add the rice and protein, and let simmer until the rice is cooked through. Most of the steps are independent of each other. Bringing them together is what creates a magical paella.

The results blow you away. Infusing the stock with cumin, pimento, saffron, cayenne pepper adds depth and flavor to the rice, chicken, chorizo, shrimp, clams and mussels. The colors are stunning: bright orange from the shrimp, sparkling green from the peas, earthy from the clams and mussels, and golden from the saffron infused rice. As Kramer from Seinfeld aptly said ”It’s like a circus in you mouth.


6 chicken legs, 1 per person
¼ pound chorizo, diced
1 pound mussels, cleaned and debearded
1 pound clams, cleaned
¾ pound shrimp with shells and tail
1 onion, diced
1 red pepper, diced
1 green pepper, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
4 ripe tomatoes, chopped
1 ½ cups frozen peas, thawed
3 bay leaves
3 sprigs thyme
¼ cup parsley, chopped finely
1 lemon, cut into wedges
6 cups fish fumet, clam and mussel liquor
1 teaspoon saffron thread
1 teaspoon pimento
½ teaspoon cumin powder
½ teaspoon paprika
1 pinch cayenne pepper
1 cup white wine
2 tablespoons olive oil to cook chicken
1- 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil to drizzle
2 cups Arborio rice



Prep Time

1 hour

Cook Time

2 hours


Step 1: Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees. In an oven-proof saute pan, heat two tablespoons of olive oil, when hot, add chicken legs. Sear over high heat in sauté pan to caramelize the chicken. When chicken is golden brown on all sides. Add one cup white wine, two bay leaves, and three thyme sprigs to the pan. Transfer to oven, and cook for about 25-30 minutes until chicken is cooked through. Set aside.

Step 2: While the chicken is in the oven. In a medium-size pot, place mussels and clams together in the pot with one cup of water. Place lid on pot and steam on medium heat. Mussels and clams are cooked when they open up, about four minutes. Discard any closed mussels or clams (they are dead and should not be eaten). Strain and reserve the mussel/ clam liquor.

Step 3: In a large pot combine the mussel and clam liquor with the fumet to total about 6 cups of fish stock. You can use shrimp stock or some water if you are short. Add saffron threads, ½ teaspoon pimento, cumin powder, paprika, cayenne, salt and pepper and bring to a rolling boil.

Step 4: Whilst the stock is boiling, sauté chorizo in a large sauté pan or paella pan. A 12-inch saute pan is a perfect size for this recipe. This is what you will be cooking your paella in. Remove the chorizo with a slotted spoon and set aside.

Step 5: Add onion and peppers and sauté in chorizo fat for 10 to 15 minutes until softened, some color is ok. Add tomatoes and garlic and cook 5 minutes more. Add your rice into the saute pan with the other ingredients and toast lightly ~ about two minutes. Toasting gives the rice a nice nutty flavor. Season the rice with salt and add remaining spices.

Step 6: Add bay leaf and 6 cups hot stock to the rice. Add chorizo cover and simmer for about 10 minutes. Add uncooked shrimp, peas, mussels, clams on top of rice and cover. Don’t stir. Simmer until rice is just cooked through, about 10 more minutes. Add chicken legs and garnish with freshly chopped parsley, splash of olive oil and lemon wedges.

Before serving taste the rice, and add seasoning. Present the paella in its pan.

Ideally you should make your own fish stock, but if you don’t want to or don’t have the time, Whole Foods has a great frozen fish fumet stock that I have used.


Jordan’s Kitchen

Filed Under

Main Course

Spices Used

Cumin, Paprika, Saffron and Cayenne Pepper

Other Ingredients Used

Rice, Shrimp, Chicken, Chorizo, Clams and Mussels


Can't wait to try this. Last time I attempted it, it was all going to plan until I realised I forgot the peas. So decided to add them at the end. They were frozen so you can imagine all the extra liquid imparted on the mixture. Result soggy rice. The secret I notice is thawed peas....can't wait to try your version

—Chana, over 4 years ago

This sounds like a class I would love to take! Is he having another? I've had great beginner's luck with paella, but we all know that never lasts if you don't have the solid grasp of why it works. ;)

Stephanie, over 4 years ago

Ursula, I too, have always been in awe of paella! I have to make it again, it's a great way to spend a Sunday.
Hope you are well.

Stacey Snacks, over 4 years ago

A truly challenging dish to prepare even for the more experienced ones. Having developed a love for seafood over the years, you can just imagine the cravings I have for paella the first time I got hold of the recipe. It's the first recipe I made with more seafood than I can ever imagine myself eating and it was a flop too. Second attempt was way better.

Kathy - My Online Meals, over 4 years ago

so nice thanks to sharing”

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