Paella is a one-pot dish made from rice and either seafood and/or meat from Valencia, on the east coast of Spain. It is traditionally flavored with saffron.
It’s one of my favorite meals on a winter night. And it’s a great way to get some nutritious seafood into your family.
I adapted this recipe from Cook’s Illustrated. For this recipe, you don’t need the giant paella pan. You can make paella in a Dutch oven (the Dutch oven should be at least a 6-quart capacity).
Dry-cured Spanish chorizo is the sausage of choice for paella, but fresh chorizo or linguiça is an acceptable substitute. If you can’t find any of those, use a spicy Italian sausage.
Dutch Oven Paella Recipe
Things to do Ahead
Optional: Soak the rice 8 hours ahead (or overnight)
Brown rice, short-grain (2 cups)
Whey, buttermilk, yogurt, kefir, apple cider vinegar, or lemon juice (2 tablespoons)
Filtered or spring water (1 1/2 cups)
Shrimp, wild, extra-large (1 pound)
Olive oil, extra-virgin, or refined coconut oil
Garlic cloves (8-9)
Chicken thighs, boneless, skinless, pastured or free-range organic (1 pound)
Red bell pepper (1)
Spanish chorizo, or Italian sausage (8 ounces)
Onion, yellow or white, medium (1)
Diced tomatoes (1 14 1/2 oz can)
Chicken stock, preferably homemade, or organic (3 cups) — click here for my recipe
White wine, dry (1/3 cup)
Saffron threads (1/2 tsp)
Bay leaf (1)
Green peas, frozen (1/2 cup)
Parsley leaves, fresh (2 teaspoons)
Lemon, organic (1)
Large stock pot or Dutch Oven
1. Add brown rice and filtered water to a glass or enamelware bowl or mason jar, along with 1 tablespoon of whey, yogurt, kefir or buttermilk.
2. Cover and let soak for 8-24 hours in a warm place.
3. Peel and devein the shrimp. (Devein means pull out the black thing on the back of the shrimp — do not skip this step). Remove the peas from the freezer and allow to defrost.
4. Adjust oven rack to lower-middle position; heat oven to 350 degrees.
5. Peel garlic cloves and finely mince.
6. Toss shrimp, 1/4 teaspoon sea salt, 1/4 teaspoon black pepper, 1 tablespoon olive oil, and one teaspoon of minced garlic together in a medium bowl. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate until needed.
7. Season the chicken thighs with sea salt and freshly ground black pepper. Set aside.
8. Heat 2 teaspoons of olive oil in large stock pot or Dutch oven over medium-high heat.
9. Remove seeds from the bell pepper and slice into strips.
10. Add peppers to the pot and cook, stirring occasionally, until skin begins to blister and turn spotty black, about 3 to 4 minutes. Transfer peppers to a plate and set aside.
11. Add another teaspoon of oil to the pot. Add chicken pieces in a single layer. Cook, without moving pieces, until browned, about 3 minutes. Turn pieces and brown on other side, about 3 minutes longer. Transfer chicken to a medium bowl.
12. Slice the sausage into 1/2 inch pieces, on the bias (diagonal).
13. Reduce heat to medium. Add the sausage to the pot, stirring, until browned, about 4 to 5 minutes.
14. Transfer sausage to the bowl with the chicken.
14. Add another couple tablespoons of olive oil to the pot.
15. Peel and dice the onion. Add the onion to the pot and cook, stirring frequently, until softened, about 3 minutes.
16. Stir in the remaining garlic and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute.
17. Drain the can of tomatoes well. Add to the pot and cook until mixture begins to darken and thicken slightly, about 3 minutes.
18. Strain the rice and rinse. Stir in the rice and cook until grains are well coated with tomato mixture, 1 to 2 minutes. Stir in the chicken stock, white wine, saffron, bay leaf, and 1/2 teaspoon of sea salt.
19. Return chicken and sausage to the pot and transfer to the oven. Cook until rice absorbs almost all the liquid, about 15 minutes. Remove pot from oven. Uncover, and scatter shrimp over rice.
20. Scrub and debeard the mussels. Rinse in a colander. With your hands, remove the “beard” — the little hairy bit — from each mussel. It’s near the hinge. Pull hard. (Do NOT do this step ahead. After you do this, the mussels die and go bad, so it’s important to do this just before cooking.)
21. Insert mussels, hinged side down into rice (so they stand upright), arrange bell pepper strips in a pinwheel pattern, and scatter peas over top. Cover and return to oven. Cook until shrimp are opaque and mussels have opened, 10 to 12 minutes.
22. Let paella stand, covered, for 5 minutes. Discard any mussels that have not opened and bay leaf.
23. Roughly chop the parsley and sprinkle over the paella.
24. Cut the lemon into wedges, and serve on the side.