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Easy Paella Recipe

Updated on January 17, 2015
Easy paella recipe
Easy paella recipe | Source

Make Delicious Paella at Home With This Easy Recipe

Paella is a classic Spanish rice dish, much revered and well-known particularly in Valencia where many consider it an identifying dish of the region.

There are as many different versions of paella as there are chefs in the world. Every chef familiar with paella has his or her own way of preparing it and preferred ingredients, although there are certain styles which are most widely known and recognized. The recipe that follows is the one my grandmother taught me when I was younger, and first interested in learning to cook. While it may contain some "short cuts" and simplicities versus classic Spanish Paella, it is a great and relatively easy-to-prepare dish for parties, holiday meals, "pot lucks" and just for a family weekend meal when you'd like to enjoy leftovers for several days to come. Preparing this dish immediately takes me back to my childhood, and it's one of my favorite meals to prepare regularly at home. I hope you enjoy it!

Traditional paella
Traditional paella | Source

About Paella

Paella as we know it today is a dish which originated in the Eastern Coastal region of Spain, known as Valencia. It is a rice-based dish which has three primary classic varieties:

1. Valencian paella: white rice, green vegetables, some form of meat, land snails, beans and seasoning
2. Seafood paella: uses seafood instead of meat and snails, no beans or green vegetables
3. Mixed paella: a combination of the above two styles to the chef’s taste, omitting and adding ingredients as desired

Two essential components of any kind of paella are olive oil and saffron, which gives the finished dish its characteristic golden color. The word “Paella” is Catalan, derived from the Old French word “paelle” meaning “pan” in English. The classic paella pan for cooking the dish is shallow and round, made of steel and with two handles. Rice was a staple of the Spanish diet since the 15th century, part of the Moorish influence in the region. Combinations of rice, fish and seasonings were often prepared for family gatherings and special events dating back to this time, and eventually through the centuries ingredients and tastes changed to lead to the versions of paella popular today.

By tradition in Valencia, paella is to be cooked over an open fire, only by men, using orange tree and pine branches and pine cones to infuse the fire with delicious aromatics. The paella would then be eaten straight from the pan. Of course it’s not always easy to follow such traditions today, nor is it necessary if you’d like to prepare a fine and modern version of paella in your home kitchen.

Paella Pans - Buy an authentic paella pan today!

Although I usually cook my paella in a casserole in the oven, one of these days I need to get a real paella pan. Perhaps for this summer, as paella can be wonderful when prepared on the grill!

Source

Easy Paella: My Recipe

There are many ways to modify this recipe, based on the ingredients you have on-hand. For instance, a cut-up whole chicken will work well instead of chicken thighs, which I simply like because they are inexpensive and add a lot of flavor. If you have lovely fresh clams or mussels, do feel free to use them instead of canned clams - clean them well and add at the same cooking stage; they will open when cooked in the oven and release delicious fresh juice throughout the dish. You can also add other shellfish such as calamari, scungilli, scampi, etc depending on your market access. This recipe presents the simplest (and cheapest!) version I was used to as a child, and it comes out consistently delicious.

Prep time: 30 min
Cook time: 1 hour 30 min
Ready in: 2 hours
Yields: 6-8

Ingredients

  • 1/2 pound Chorizo or Italian sausage, sliced thickly on a bias
  • 4-6 chicken thighs
  • 1 yellow onion, chopped
  • 1.5 cups mixed bell peppers (yellow, red, green)
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced (optional)
  • 1.5 cups fresh or canned tomatoes, chopped
  • 1.5 cups uncooked white rice
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon saffron
  • 4 cups water
  • 1 pound uncooked shrimp, shelled, deveined and cleaned
  • 6 ounces canned whole clams
  • 10 ounces frozen peas
  • Fresh ground pepper
  • Olive oil
  • White wine

Instructions

  1. Cook sliced sausage in a skillet over medium-high heat until well-browned.
  2. Remove sausage from pan and set aside. Meanwhile, preheat oven to 375 degrees F.
  3. Season the chicken thighs with salt and black pepper, then brown them in the sausage drippings on both sides. Add olive oil as necessary to keep the chicken from sticking to the skillet and for additional flavor. Add a splash of white wine to deglaze the pan.
  4. Remove the chicken and set aside along with the browned sausage.
  5. To the skillet, add the onion, bell peppers and garlic. Cook until all are tender but not browning.Add in the uncooked rice, tomatoes, additional salt and saffron. Pour in the 4 cups of water and bring mixture to boiling. Return the cooked sausage to the skillet and mix well.
  6. Remove mixture from heat and turn it into a ready 4-quart casserole, Dutch oven or paella pan. Top mixture with the browned chicken parts, cover and bake for 30 minutes.
  7. Meanwhile, drain the canned clams and make sure shrimp are cleaned. Remove casserole briefly from oven to top with peas, clams and shrimp. Mix gently and recover, baking for an additional 15-20 minutes until chicken, rice and shellfish are done. If needed, add more water or white wine for moisture while cooking.
  8. Serve garnished with lemon slices and/or fresh chopped parsley, as desired.
Cast your vote for Easy Paella: My Recipe

Cooking Paella Step-by-Step - My photos of preparing this recipe

The peppers and onions are chopped and ready to use.
The peppers and onions are chopped and ready to use.
Start with the sliced sausages in the skillet.
Start with the sliced sausages in the skillet.
I've seasoned the chicken thighs & placed in the pan with the sausage fat.
I've seasoned the chicken thighs & placed in the pan with the sausage fat.
The chicken thighs are cooking nicely.
The chicken thighs are cooking nicely.
Cooking the vegetables down in the remaining sausage and chicken fat.
Cooking the vegetables down in the remaining sausage and chicken fat.
At this point I've added the rice, tomatoes and seasonings.
At this point I've added the rice, tomatoes and seasonings.
Getting everything ready to go in the oven.
Getting everything ready to go in the oven.
After the first stage of baking, I've added the peas, shrimp and clams.
After the first stage of baking, I've added the peas, shrimp and clams.
Finished! The paella is ready to be served.
Finished! The paella is ready to be served.

Quick Tip: A Simple Substitute for Saffron in a "Pinch" - Annatto seeds for flavor and color

Saffron is one of the world's most expensive and desired spices, well-known for the golden color it imparts as well as its rich flavor. Coming from the flowers of beautiful crocuses, only a small amount of saffron is required in most dishes which call of it as an ingredient - and it is generally considered a must for paella.

But what to do if you can't afford saffron or find yourself out of it at the last minute? My recommendation is to use Annatto seeds. Annatto is readily available in most Mexican and Latin American markets at VERY reasonable prices - perhaps only a dollar or two for a large package. A tablespoon of annatto seeds left in 1/4 cup of boiling water for 30 minutes can then be strained and the liquid used as an "emergency" saffron substitute (just cut down on the amount of the water added elsewhere in the recipe accordingly). The flavor is not exactly the same, but annatto has a wonderful nutty, spicy and sweet taste which I find complements paella quite well. Truthfully I've used this "fix-it" several times when I started to prepare my paella recipe and realized I was out of saffron, and could barely notice the difference in flavor.

Cookbooks All About Paella - Learn many more ways to prepare this authentic Spanish dish!

More Paella Recipes On-Line

Not satisfied with this recipe? Try some of these others to suit your taste.

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Thanks for checking out this recipe lens. If you try my paella recipe, please let me know what you think - or feel free to share your own favorite paella recipe links here!

© 2012 Nicole Pellegrini

Do You Love Paella? - Comments welcome!

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    • profile image

      CuriousBoy 

      5 years ago

      Yes, I love paella and I must say that this is the best summary and easy (short-cut) recipe I ever read!

    • profile image

      anonymous 

      5 years ago

      Love it, love it, love it! Thanks for the recipe.

    • aliciamaggie54 profile image

      aliciamaggie54 

      6 years ago

      I never tried this before. Some of the ingredients sound good:) Thanks for the information.

    • joanferrer profile image

      joanferrer 

      6 years ago

      Great lense! It is essential to use a good stock and not water - fumet brou in catalan / brodo in italian. this dish is about rice flavoured by rich stock, not about some meat / fish with the rice as a side show. the protein is the side show.Btw - paella is not derived from old French - old French is from the north of France and the basis of modern French. In the south of France they used to speak Occitan (very similar to catalan) and indeed catalan in some parts. They share a lot of words in common, but paella is not derived from French.

    • queenofduvetcover profile image

      queenofduvetcover 

      6 years ago

      I ADORE Paella!! I like to eat it with garlic bread. I must try your recipe, thanks again!!

    • Lady Lorelei profile image

      Lorelei Cohen 

      6 years ago from Canada

      Wow I thank you for all the wonderful information provided along with your paella recipe. I knew saffron was expensive but I had no idea that this spice was made from the early spring flower crocus.

    • profile image

      MemoryMistress 

      6 years ago

      I love Paella yes! I live in Spain and today in the little town of, San Joan, there was a Grand Paella being cooked. It was enormous and the dish was big enough for 400 people! Truly amazing to watch how they cooked it and it was perfect. No burnt bits, a delicious feast for many. Thank you for your great Paella recipe.

    • flycatcherrr profile image

      flycatcherrr 

      6 years ago

      That paella looks just fantastic. Not a scrap of saffron in my larder, but I don't think I'll let that stop me from faking this for tonight's supper!

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