Paella, the classic grilled rice dish from Spain, is usually made in a special pan, but if you don’t have one, a large frying pan can stand in with delicious results. The key to this dish is the crusty caramelized layer of rice called socarrat that forms on the bottom of the pan. Besides rice, the ingredients that go into a paella range from traditional rabbit and snails to vegetables and seafood. This version, known as paella mixta, contains seafood, Spanish chorizo, and chicken. For more Spanish flair, sip on glasses of sangría while the paella’s on the stove.
What to buy: Spanish chorizo (not to be confused with its Mexican counterpart) is a dried, smoked, ready-to-eat pork sausage. It can be mild or spicy, and is found at gourmet markets or online. If you can’t find Spanish chorizo, you can sub in some andouille sausage.
Paella rice, sometimes labeled bomba or Valencia, is a white short-grain rice prized for its ability to stay firm when cooked. It can be found in gourmet grocery stores. If you can’t find paella rice, Arborio rice can be substituted, although the texture will be slightly softer when cooked.
Game plan: If you want to make this paella on the grill, use our Grilled Paella Mixta recipe.
- Yield: 4 to 6 servings
- Difficulty: Medium
- Total: 1 hr 15 mins
- 1 medium, ripe tomato (about 6 ounces)
- 12 large shrimp (about 9 ounces), peeled and deveined
- 3/4 teaspoon smoked Spanish paprika (pimentón dulce)
- Freshly ground black pepper
- 8 ounces boneless, skinless chicken thighs, cut into 1-inch pieces
- 6 ounces Spanish chorizo, cut into 1/4-inch-thick rounds
- 1 to 2 tablespoons olive oil, as needed
- 2/3 cup small-dice yellow onion (from about 1/3 medium onion)
- 1 medium garlic clove, finely chopped
- 1 pinch saffron threads
- 1 1/3 cups paella rice (about 10 ounces), sometimes labeled bomba or Valencia
- 3/4 teaspoon kosher salt, plus more for seasoning the shrimp and chicken
- 2 2/3 cups low-sodium chicken broth
- 12 mussels, Manila clams, or a combination, scrubbed
- 1 tablespoon coarsely chopped fresh Italian parsley leaves
- 1 medium lemon, cut into 8 wedges, for serving
- Heat the oven to 400°F and arrange a rack in the middle.
- Core and halve the tomato. Grate the flesh side of each half on the large holes of a box grater set over a medium bowl, stopping when you get to the skin. Discard the skins. You should have about 1/2 cup of tomato pulp and juice; set aside.
- Place the shrimp in a small bowl, add 1/4 teaspoon of the paprika, and season with salt and pepper. Toss to combine, then refrigerate.
- Place the chicken in a medium bowl and season generously with salt and pepper; set aside.
- Place a large 12-inch oven-safe frying pan over medium-high heat until hot, about 3 minutes. Add the chorizo to the pan and cook, stirring occasionally, until it has started to brown and the fat has rendered, about 2 to 3 minutes. Using tongs or a slotted spoon, transfer to a large bowl; set aside.
- There should be a thin layer of rendered fat in the pan. If there’s not enough, add 1 to 2 tablespoons of olive oil. Add the seasoned chicken to the pan in a single layer and sear, stirring occasionally, until both sides are golden brown, about 6 minutes total. Using tongs or a slotted spoon, transfer the chicken to the bowl with the chorizo; set aside.
- Reduce the heat to medium. Add the onion, season with salt and pepper, and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened, about 4 minutes. Add the garlic, remaining 1/2 teaspoon paprika, and saffron, stir to combine, and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds.
- Add the reserved tomato pulp and juice and cook until the mixture has slightly darkened in color, scraping up any browned bits from the bottom of the pan, about 2 minutes. Add the rice and measured salt and stir to coat in the tomato mixture.
- Increase the heat to medium high. Add the broth and stir to combine. Arrange the rice mixture in an even layer. Distribute the reserved chorizo and chicken over the rice, adding any accumulated juices from the bowl. (Do not stir the rice from this point on.)
- Bring to a lively simmer and continue to simmer, adjusting the heat as necessary, until the rice grains have swelled, most of the liquid has been absorbed, and the rice starts to make a crackling sound, about 10 minutes. Remove the pan from the heat.
- Arrange the reserved shrimp and the shellfish (hinge-side down) in the rice, nestling them slightly. Place the pan in the oven and bake until the shellfish have opened, the shrimp are just cooked through, and the rice is tender but still al dente, about 10 to 12 minutes.
- Remove the pan from the oven and place on a wire rack. Cover with foil and let stand for 5 minutes. Before serving the paella, discard any unopened shellfish and sprinkle the dish with the parsley. Serve with the lemon wedges.