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Recipes / Paella

Paella

By Mark Bittman

Published April 5, 2024

Paella is party food at its finest, served as a communal dish in the center of the table for friends and family to help themselves. And it’s so good that no one will want to call it quits until every bit of it is gone.

Photo: Christina Holmes
Photo: Christina Holmes
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Use this recipe as a template. A short-grain Valencia rice like Bomba or Calasparra is traditional, though I’ve found that long-grain rice, while completely diferent, is also quite good. In Spain, paella will often include cut-up Romano beans or cooked lima beans and roasted red pepper or diced carrots and peas. Go ahead and doll it up with pieces of lobster tail or crab. Saffron is the dominant seasoning but so precious I consider it optional. Instead of hacking up bone-in chicken, I call for chicken wings. And the last word: Do not under any circumstances skip the alioli, the garlicky mayonnaise that brings the whole thing together. They’re minor shortcuts, but you can make the alioli and the sofrito several hours ahead and refrigerate them.

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Paella

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Makes 8 to 10 servings 1x

Time 80 to 90 minutes

Units Scale

Ingredients

  • 7 tablespoons good-quality olive oil
  • 1 large onion, chopped (22 1/2 cups)
  • Salt and pepper
  • 1 teaspoon smoked paprika (pimentón)
  • 6 tablespoons minced garlic (910 cloves)
  • 2 fresh medium tomatoes, grated (1 1/22 cups)
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 6 baby artichokes
  • 2 pounds large or jumbo shrimp, peeled (and deveined if you like)
  • 2 pounds chicken wingettes and drumettes (they’re also sold as “party wings”) or
  • 2 1/2 pounds chicken wings, cut at the joints, tips discarded
  • 1 pound Spanish or Portuguese smoked sausage (chorizo or linguiça), cut into chunks
  • 2 cups short-grain rice (see headnote)
  • 4 cups chicken broth, or more as needed
  • 2 bay leaves
  • Generous pinch saffron threads, crushed between your fingers (optional)
  • 1 cup mayonnaise

Instructions

  1. Put 4 tablespoons of the oil in a skillet or paella pan at least 12 inches wide on the stovetop over medium heat. When it’s hot, add the onion, sprinkle with salt and pepper, and cook, stirring occasionally, until soft, 3 to 5 minutes. Add the paprika and stir until fragrant, just a minute or 2. Add 4 tablespoons of the garlic and stir until you can smell that, 2 to 3 minutes. Add the tomatoes and cook, still stirring occasionally, until most of their liquid evaporates, 15 to 20 minutes; lower the heat so the sofrito bubbles gently. Remove the pan from the heat if it’s done before you complete the next step.
  2. Meanwhile, whisk 2 tablespoons of the oil and the lemon juice in a medium bowl. Peel away and discard the outer leaves of each artichoke until the leaves are half yellow and half green. With a sharp knife, cut across the top of the artichoke to remove the green tops. Leave 1 inch of stem and use a paring knife or vegetable peeler to trim the bottom so no green remains. Cut the artichoke in half lengthwise from top to bottom. As each artichoke is trimmed, add it to the olive oil mixture, season with salt and pepper, and toss to coat evenly; this helps delay discoloring.
  3. Toss the shrimp in a medium bowl with the remaining 1 tablespoon oil. Season with salt and pepper.
  4. Start the coals (make a fire with 2 chimney starters full of briquettes, about 80) or heat a gas grill for hot direct cooking. Make sure the grates are clean.
  5. Sprinkle the chicken with salt and pepper and put it on the grill directly over the fire. Close the lid and cook, turning once or twice and checking often, until they brown on both sides, 8 to 10 minutes total. Transfer to a platter.
  6. Put the shrimp on the grill and cook just until they develop grill marks on the bottom, 2 to 3 minutes. Transfer to the platter.
  7. Put the sausage chunks on the grill and cook until they develop grill marks, 2 to 3 minutes per side. Transfer to the platter.
  8. Put the artichokes on the grill and cook until they get crisp on one side, 5 to 6 minutes. Transfer to the platter.
  9. Once the artichokes are done, close the lid of the grill; if you are cooking on a gas grill, turn the burners down to medium.
  10. Cut the sausage chunks into 1/2-inch slices, then cut the slices in half. Cut the artichoke pieces in half.
  11. Return the sofrito to medium heat. When it’s hot, add the rice and stir until coated. Add the broth, bay leaves, and safron if you’re using it; stir to combine. Bring to a boil, stirring occasionally to keep the rice from sticking to the bottom. Turn of the heat. Put the chicken on top of the rice in a single layer.
  12. Carefully move the pan to the grill, centering it over the coals. Close the lid.
  13. Make the alioli: Put the mayonnaise and remaining 2 tablespoons garlic in a small bowl; stir to combine. Cover and refrigerate until you’re ready to serve.
  14. After the rice and chicken have cooked for 20 minutes, check the progress: The broth should have been mostly absorbed by the rice to the point that the top of the paella is dry; stick a fork down into the rice by the edge of the pan and you still should see bubbles. Add the sausage, artichokes, and shrimp, pushing them into the rice as much as you can; it’s also okay to have them sit on top of the rice if the pan is overly full. Close the lid.
  15. Check again in another 10 minutes: Taste a forkful of rice. If it’s tender but the broth isn’t fully absorbed, give it a little more time. It shouldn’t be soupy at all; in a perfect paella, a tasty crust will develop at the bottom without the rice sticking to the pan. (If the rice is dry and burning, drizzle with a little more stock.) Remove and discard bay leaves.
  16. Bring the pan to the table and let sit for 5 to minutes. Then let everyone serve themselves; pass the alioli on the side for spooning over the paella.
— Recipe from How to Grill Everything