How to Make Great Paella

How to Make Great Paella

This lesson focuses on the classic dish of paella, an ancient dish from Valencia, Spain. The dish’s roots go back to classic seafood one-‑pot cookery in the summertime. This lesson’s version includes pork and chicken, but those ingredients can be omitted based on your personal preference. Also note that the paella needs to be made in a paella pan. Ideally, this will be a thin, stainless steel pan.

Paella with Shrimp, Chicken, and Chorizo

Starting the Chorizo, Tomatoes, Chicken, and Shrimp
The first step is to sear the meats and begin rendering the fat from the chorizo. Heat a pan with grapeseed oil in it. Add cut-‑up chorizo to the pan.

Meanwhile, bring a pot of water to a boil. Follow the chef’s demonstration from the video lesson to prepare the concassé tomatoes. Once the water is boiling, put the tomatoes in for 10 seconds. Use a slotted spoon to remove and set aside.

Turning back to the chorizo, try to keep everything in the center of the pan, where it’s hottest. When the chorizo has begun to brown, tilt the pan. Use a slotted spoon to push everything to one side of the pan. Turn the heat down. Let the fat drain. Remove the chorizo and store it in a bowl. Keep the pan with the fat in it.

Line up the chicken thighs on a seasoning try. Season them with salt and pepper. Add more oil to the pan you rendered the chorizo in. Then, add the chicken. Turn the heat back up. Don’t forget to wash your hands after touching raw chicken. Give the pan some movement to make sure nothing sticks. Let the chicken cook for a few minutes.

Next, use a paring knife and peel the skin off the tomatoes. You will end up with uncooked tomatoes with no skin. Meanwhile, check on the chicken and turn it over, giving the pan some movement. After that, cut the tomatoes into long slices. Remove the ribs and seeds.  Check on the chicken.

Following the chef’s demonstration, continue slicing the tomatoes. When the chicken is ready, take it out of the pan and store it in a bowl. Add some more oil to the pan. Then, add peeled and deveined shrimp to the pan. Season with salt and pepper. The goal is to sear them and produce some color, rather than cooking them all the way through. Take them out of the pan when they start to curl. Until then, turn them as needed.

Starting the Sofrito
Next, scrape any of the fond that’s on the bottom of the pan. Add a small amount of oil. To start the sofrito, add white onions, peeled celery, and red peppers. Try to use the moisture that’s in the vegetables to deglaze the pan and capture all the fond that’s on the bottom.

Heat a small pot. Add white wine. Get it hot, but don’t boil it. You will use this wine to bloom the saffron. Remove from the heat and add the saffron. Meanwhile, add the concassé tomatoes to the sofrito pan and turn the heat down.

If the fond is starting to get stuck on the sides, add chicken stock to deglaze the pan. Let that cook in the pan for just a second. With a spatula, pick up allthat fond that’s on the bottom. When the fond is in the sofrito, let it cook. The goal is a jam-like consistency. Stir regularly. You may need to add stock if the cooking process takes longer. Near the end, add garlic and aromatize it. Also add a small amount of oil.

Next, add the rice to the pan. Stir the rice in with the oil and other ingredients. When the rice is hot, add seasoned stock, completely covering the rice. Stir again, trying to capture the fond on the bottom. Bring the ingredients up to a boil, then turn the heat down to low and let the mixture simmer. From this point, the rice will be cooked in approximately 25 minutes.

Preparing the Artichokes and Finishing the Paella
The next step is to prepare the meal’s artichokes. Follow the chef’s demonstration to trim the artichokes. Having lemon water on hand is helpful. You can dip the cut artichoke in the lemon water to prevent oxidization. While you work on the artichokes, give the paella a stir from time to time.

The paella will eventually reach au sec—that is, it will reduce to the point that the pan itself is dry but the product is moist. At this point, add stock again. The stock should be hot when you add it. Continue to stir from time to time, making sure nothing is sticking to the bottom.

The rice should be absorbing the liquid and expanding its size. It will expand to three times its original size. The next step is to add the saffron and the white wine. If needed, add stock to the saffron and white wine to make sure you capture all of it. Let this cook in for a minute. Bring the paella back up to a boil. Add more stock, making sure everything is covered.

Turn the heat back up. Begin adding the other ingredients, starting with cauliflower and artichokes. The cooking time from here will be about 10 minutes. Try to keep everything submerged, adding more stock as needed. Next, add the chorizo. After that, rip up piquillo peppers and put them in the paella.

Replenish the stock in the paella, and then add the chicken. Your goal is an even distribution of the ingredients. At this point, instead of stirring, knock the pan to help starches fall to the bottom. Use a spatula to make sure nothing sticks to the edge of the pan.

After that, add the shellfish. The video lesson uses mussels and clams, but you can use your choice of shellfish. The goal is to get them to fully cook and open up. Once the chicken fully cooks and the shells of the shellfish open up, you can add your shrimp and peas. (If any shellfish do not open up, just throw them away.)

The peas can sit on top, and the shrimp can go around the edges, depending on your preference. Ideally, people should get a spoon of everything whenever they get a new portion. Finish the paella with a garnish of parsley. Turn the heat off, let the paella rest for a few minutes, and serve.

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