I love paella. Growing up, rice was a staple in my household, so I’m sure that has something to do with it. Paella really is all about the rice. A good one would be delicious without anything else added, so once you get the rice down you’re in business. After that you can throw in whatever you want. Just be careful not to overload your paella; the additions should complement the rice but not smother it or overcrowd the pan. Shrimp and chorizo is one of my favourite combos and both ingredients make regular appearances in my paella pan. The recipe below was inspired from one I found on the back of a bag of rice. Over the last 2 years or so I have adapted to come up with something that works consistently for me.
N.B. If you’re going to make paella don’t mess around, make sure you get a real paella pan.
Ingredients (Using a 13 inch paella pan. Serves 4)
- 2 cups spanish paella rice (as mentioned, paella is a rice dish, so make sure you don’t skimp on the rice. Get authentic paella rice. I use Bomba rice.)
- 1 spanish onion, diced
- 1 red bell pepper, thinly slicely
- 2 tomatoes, chopped
- 3 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
- two dried Spanish chorizo sausages, chopped
- 10 medium sized shrimp and 2 jumbo ones (I used peeled ones, you can also leave the shell on)(we were only 2, so I only used 2 jumbo ones, add more if more people will be eating)
- Spanish saffron threads
- smoked Spanish paprika
- olive oil
- Heat 5 cups of chicken broth in small saucepan, stirring in 1tsp of saffron threads as the broth warms.
- Season the raw shrimp with smoked paprika and garlic powder, set them aside.
- Heat 2 tbsps of olive oil in the paella pan over medium low heat.
- Saute the onions until translucent, about 7 minutes.
- Add the red pepper and saute another 5 minutes.
- Add the tomatoes and garlic and saute another 10 minutes.
Tip: In steps 3 to 6 you are making the “soffrito” which will coat the rice and give the paella a lot of its flavour. Keep the heat low and give it a lot of time so that you get a nice concentrated mixture. The whole process should take 20-25 minutes.
- Add the chopped chorizo and stir it into the soffrito.
- Add the rice and stir so that the rice is thoroughly coated with the soffrito mixture.
- Add 4 cups of broth and distribute the rice mixture evenly throughout the pan so that it is fully covered. Increase the heat a bit to medium.
Tip: A lot of paella recipes that I have read say not to disturb the pan after this point. That might work if you’re using an authentic paella burner that distributes heat evenly and consistently, but if you’re using a regular stove like I am you have to adapt in order to avoid burning. I use two burners on the stove, straddling the pan over both and rotate the pan every 5 minutes or so. I also stir the rice a few times during the process. I recommend you do the same.
- After 10 minutes, stir the rice and then redistribute it evenly throughout the pan again.
- After another 5-10 minutes most of your broth should have been absorbed or evaporated, so add another 1 cup of broth, stir and redistribute the rice evenly throughout the pan (don’t forget to keep rotating the pan so that each portion of it gets time directly over the element).
- After another 5 minutes, add the shrimp, bury them in the rice so that they cook quickly and take on the flavour of the paella.
- Throw in another pinch of saffron threads.
- At this point you need to be tasting the rice regularly to determine when it is done. It should take another 5-10 minutes, i.e. the total rice cooking process should take about 30 minutes.
Tip: The rice is done when it is still a bit al dente, like good pasta. Each individual grain should still be distinguishable from those around it. You don’t want mushy paella. Again, stir the rice periodically, particularly if you smell any hint of burning.
- When the rice is done, remove the paella from the heat and cover it loosely with aluminum foil. Let it rest for 7 minutes.
- Garnish with lemon wedges around the egde of the pan and serve at the table with good company.
A note about soccarat – “soccarat” is the delicious caramelized crust that forms at the bottom of paella sometimes. I’m still trying to figure out the best way to consistently develop a nice soccarat when making paella on a stove. I have read recipes that suggest cranking up the heat for the last few minutes to toast the rice. That has never really worked for me (burnt rice is not soccarat). I think it needs to develop more gradually. I’ll update this recipe when I crack this one.
Suggested wine pairing: An Albarino. Albarino is an aromatic white wine from Spain. We had a bottle of Fillaboa Albarino Rias Baixas 2010. It was very good, and exactly what I was looking for – refreshing with prominent citrus notes that paired nicely with the savoury smoky paella.
Delicious. The rice was perfectly al dente (I can’t stress it enough, don’t overcook your rice!) and full of rich flavour from the soffrito and the saffron infused broth. The chorizo was salty and spicy and the shrimps had that nice smoked paprika flavour. How can you go wrong? This is a great meal to share with friends – impressive looking and really quite simple to prepare.