Paella (Arroz con Cosas)
Updated: Jun 17
This recipe is an entertaining showstopper that is actually pretty easy to make.
Paella is the name of the dish because it is also the name of the pan. Originating from Valencia, a traditional paella looks nothing like what most of us think of when we think of this glorious one-pan feast. An authentic and classic paella is made with rabbit, snails, broad beans, and perhaps some artichokes. Spanish rice, Bomba in particular, is a must along with saffron, and chorizo is a definite no-no. For many of us, we only know paella to be a celebration of seafood, packed with mussels and clams, shrimp and squid. That's why I call this paella "Arroz con Cosas." This "rice with stuff" is as good as it gets and, yes, it most definitely has chorizo. No, it does not have pieces of chicken but it certainly can if that's how you like it. Make this dish your own, adding the flavors and ingredients you love, once you master the technique. No matter what you do, enjoy it with a glass of my Summertime Sangria!
Equipment: cutting board; chef’s knife; dry and wet measuring cups; measuring spoons; paella pan or large sauté pan with high sides; lid that fits or heavy duty aluminum foil; wooden spoon; tongs
2-3 tablespoons olive oil
1 pound chorizo, sliced if in casings or crumbled if loose
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 large Spanish (white) or yellow onion, finely diced
1 green bell pepper, seeds and ribs removed, diced
1 teaspoon kosher salt
2 cups Bomba rice, or any medium-grain starchy rice like or Carnaroli
½ teaspoon saffron threads
½ teaspoon smoked paprika
1 cup diced canned tomatoes (or hand-crushed whole tomatoes)
¼ cup dry white wine
4 cups chicken stock
12 clams, rinsed and cleaned
1 pound mussels, rinsed and cleaned 1 pound peeled and deveined large shrimp
¼ pound squid, sliced into rings
1 red bell pepper, roasted to remove skin and seeds, sliced into ½-inch strips
kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons chopped parsley
ILOC tip: do not use Arborio (risotto) rice to make paella. Be sure to use a starchy, medium-grain rice. Arborio does not absorb all the liquid due to its low starch content and short grain, which is a boon to making risotto but a detriment when making a successful paella.
1. Heat the pan over medium heat. Add 2 tablespoons of olive oil and swirl to coat the pan. Add the chorizo and allow it to brown for 1-2 minutes before turning, adjusting the heat as needed.
ILOC tip: make sure that all your mise en place is ready before you heat the pan so that you can have an easy experience and successful result. Remember, it's about technique, not torture!
2. Once the chorizo is browned and cooked on both sides, add the additional tablespoon of olive oil if needed (if the chorizo releases a lot of fat it might not be necessary) and stir in the garlic, onion, and green pepper, which is called "sofrito." Cook, stirring frequently, until the onion is translucent and has softened, but not brown, about 3-4 minutes.
3. Add the rice and stir well to incorporate the chorizo and sofrito. Sprinkle in the saffron threads and smoked paprika, and stir well. Then add the tomatoes and mix in well before adding the wine. Vigorously stir the rice mixture to deglaze the pan for a few seconds before adding in the chicken stock. Shake the pan slightly to help evenly distribute the rice mixture throughout the stock. Heat over medium-high heat until the mixture comes to a boil.
4. Once the liquid comes to a boil, lower the heat to medium-low and let the paella cook for 10 minutes, uncovered.
5. When the rice has absorbed most of the liquid, tuck the clams hinge side-up, into the rice, evenly dispersed, with the pan still uncovered. After the clams cook for 5 minutes, then tuck in the mussels in the same manner. Cook for an additional 5 minutes, or until you see the mussels open.
"Rinse the shellfish under cold water before you begin cooking to make sure no sand ends up in your paella!"
6. Place the shrimp and squid rings evenly over the paella, tucking the shrimp into any pockets of rice that remain. Cover and cook until the shrimp are opaque and the clams have opened, about 3-4 minutes.
7. Remove the lid (or foil), and raise the heat to medium-high for 1 minute to toast the rice on the bottom of the pan. Add the red pepper slices to the top along with a sprinkling of parsley. Season with salt and freshly ground black pepper.
8. Discard any unopened clams and mussels and serve immediately.
ILOC tip: never force open a cooked mollusk. When mollusks stay shut it means that they were D.O.A. Should you see a cracked shell in your bowl of clams or mussels at a restaurant, that should be your first clue that someone back in the kitchen tried to pry it open. Don't eat it. "Technique, not torture" applies to consumption, too, not just production!
Makes 4-6 servings.