Authentic Paella

26 Jan


A bit of ranting to start.  In a restaurant, you probably have never had a “real” paella. I have tasted authentic paella in the USA exactly once. Even in Spain, in restaurants, the paella might come from a mix. That is because paella is time intensive and expensive to make. Paellas vary from place to place in Spain, but when people in the USA ask me for a paella recipe, they are usually thinking about a paella that is a mix of seafood and meat.

Online recipes for paella are tasty, but usually inauthentic. Paella in Spain, does not contain cilantro. I have heard that sometimes paella contains chorizo or sausage, but I have not seen it personally.  Other recipes that I personally deem inauthentic: mushrooms, capers, tumeric, or other coloring to make the rice more yellow and lemon. Its not usual to spread alioli on paella either. All of the above might be delicious, but Pablo’s father would scoff at it.

This is Pablo’s family recipe for paella. It’s messy, it’s time intensive. It’s delicious! Enjoy.


4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil (preferably Spanish)
1/2 pound chicken thighs, cut into 1-inch cubes (if you want it to be more authentic, use rabbit meat)
1/4 pork rip tips
1 cup chopped onion
4 garlic cloves, chopped
1 1/2 cups paella rice (aka bomba rice)
2 plum tomatoes
1/2 of a red pepper or a roasted red pepper
1/2 teaspoon saffron threads
1 cups (or more) chicken broth
1 pound uncooked shrimp with heads on (leave on peels)
2 doz mussels and/or little neck clams
1/2 pound squid cut into rings or strips, or even better, cuttlefish
5 cups of a cooking liquid( mix of cooking liquid from mussels, chicken broth, water. I like Bar Harbor Clam Juice).
Chopped fresh Italian parsley
Optional – frozen peas
Bonus – Pablo’s dad put baby artichokes in the paella. Its amazing.

Grate the tomatoes
Cut the peppers into small strips or squares
Steam the mussels, clams and save the cooking water.
Cook up the broth that you plan to add to the paella. Season it and taste it before you use it.

Get a paella pan. If you don’t have one, use a wide, flat bottomed pan, preferably without a non-stick coating
Put 4 tablespoons of oil and let it heat up to sizzling hot.
Add the shrimp and cook until pink. Sprinkle with salt while in the pan. Remove and put on a dish.
Pun in the chicken chunks and sprinkle with salt, brown them and then remove to a dish.
Repeat with the rib tips.
Repeat with the squid.
You should be left with a yummy slurry of chicken and shrimp juice at the bottom of your pan.
Now we will build a sofrito:
– Add the onions and sautee until they start they are translucent.
– Add the peppers and garlic. Sautee until the onions and garlic start to brown.
– Add the grated tomatoes and the liquid from the tomatoes.
– Optionally, you can throw in some white wine at this point.
– Reduce the liquid a little bit.
Add the rice and sautee it in the sauce.
Add the saffron.
Put the squid, chicken and the rib meat in the pan.
Then pour in 4.5 cups of broth. Even out the rice in the pan.
Cook at high heat. DO NOT STIR.
Once the rice is soupy in consistency, arrange the shrimp and mussels/clams nicely on top of the pan. Push them into the rice. Then give the pan a few wiggles to let the ingredients settle in.
I like to add frozen peas at this point.
Turn off the heat while the paella is still very wet and the rice is more than a little al-dente. Cover the pan with a large dish towel or tented foil and let it finish cooking.

Sprinkle with parsley and serve.



No comments yet

Leave a Reply