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My version of paella is an easy dish that's a sure crowd pleaser. It's filled with deliciously fragrant saffron & dry white wine and stuffed full of shrimp, chicken, green peas and bell peppers. Perfect for a dinner party and just as delicious reheated the next day. Making it for a crowd? No worries! This recipe works wonderfully when multiplied.
And for the optimal paella experience - serve with an easy homemade lime aioli.
What is paella?
Paella is a Spanish - or, to be entirely accurate, Valencian - dish. The name actually comes from the name of the pan, which is called "la paella" - probably from the Latin word "patella" which means "pan".
A beautifully yellow rice dish, Paella is traditionally made with Spanish Bomba rice and seasoned with saffron, garlic and onion. Add to this some vegetables (often green beans) and some protein (often chicken and/or seafood and/or chorizo) and you might begin to understand why this dish is so popular.
Now while Bomba rice is the traditional choice, it's not the easiest to find outside Spain and so often substituted for Arborio (risotto) rice. I however find a delicious paella can be made without any of the fancy stuff, and so I go for the good old long grain rice.
Why I love this recipe
- Using long grain rice increases the chance you can actually make it using just what you have at home already
- Dry white wine brings out all the flavor of saffron, shrimp & chicken
- Saffron gives the dish its beautiful yellow color & loads of flavor
- Red bell pepper added just at the end adds a bit of crunch
- Green peas add a tough of earthiness
- Red bell peppers and green peas both add a nice pop of color
Expert tips for making paella
- Before cooking - infuse your saffron in white wine to bring out all the flavor
- And speaking of wine - choose a dry variety you absolutely love. I'm not one for using cooking wine, instead I always think you should go for one you would love to drink! And why not drink it alongside your paella as well?
- Check how much liquid to use for your specific rice type on the package and adjust the amount of chicken stock accordingly. The amount of white wine + chicken stock should sum up to the amount of water recommended for your rice.
- Fry your onion & garlic well to bring out maximum flavor
- Make sure to de-glaze the pan with the wine - meaning, loosening up and incorporating all those delicious browned bits at the bottom of the pan - for maximum flavor
Making paella for a crowd
This chicken & shrimp paella is one of my favorite dishes to make for a dinner party. Just choose the number of persons you want to make it for in the recipe card below (0.75 dl of rice per person is usually a good amount if you're more into freestyling your recipes).
Sometimes when making it for a dinner party I end up with too big a batch to make it in my regular pan. But then I either just split it into several pans, or make it in a big pot. It works just as well!
How to make paella with chicken & shrimp
To start with - don't be worried if you don't have a classic paella pan (the one that's actually called paella) (although I would love to have one!!). I use my regular frying pan, a wok, or a large pot - and it works just as well.
Start by doing your prep. Most important piece of prep? Making sure you get the most taste out of your saffron. You do this by pouring some of your dry white wine in a small glass, and adding the saffron. If it is not ground already make sure to crush it using a mortar and pestle or something similar first.
Then for the rest of the prep: peel your shrimp, chop your onion and garlic finely, dice the red bell peppers, cut the chicken in bite size pieces and season it with salt and pepper, pour your frozen green peas onto a plate to thaw and make your chicken stock.
Once the prep is done, start by frying your chicken in half the butter for about 5 minutes, on medium-high heat. Then remove and set aside for now, and add the rest of the butter to the pan together with the olive oil.
When the butter has melted, add in the chopped garlic and onion, and fry for a few minutes.
Allow the onion and garlic to get really nice and brown, without burning. Then add in the rice, mix, and fry for a minute or so until it's starting to look a bit dry - ie the oil & butter have been absorbed.
Now add in the saffron! Pour in the white wine with the saffron in it, and then add some more wine to the glass and pour it all out again - I mean come on, saffron is expensive as well as yummy so we want to make sure we really get all of it. Then pour in the rest of the wine. Now when the wine heats up make sure to use it to help loosen all those yummy bits stuck in the bottom of the pan! They're gonna add so much taste to your paella.
Mix, lower the heat to medium, and let simmer until the wine has been absorbed. Then add in half of your chicken stock, mix, bring to a simmer and then lower the heat to medium-low.
Let simmer until the stock has been absorbed, then add in half of what's left. Mix, and leave to simmer until stock has been absorbed yet again.
When the stock has been absorbed, go ahead and add in the rest of the chicken stock. Then mix again, and leave to simmer.
After all the chicken stock has been absorbed, add in the green peas and red bell pepper.
Mix well, then add in the chicken and shrimp. Mix well, turn the heat off and let sit for a minute. And now you're ready to serve - to maximize the dish, serve it with a homemade lime aioli and lemon wedges.
Have you had paella before? Have you made it yourself? What's your favorite version? Let me know in the comments below! And while you're at it? Please leave a review as well!
- 1 g ground saffron
- 2 Tbsp butter divided
- 400 g chicken thigh filets or other type of chicken meat, cut in bite-size pieces
- 0.5 tsp ground black pepper
- 0.5 tsp salt
- 1 Tbsp olive oil
- 2 garlic cloves finely chopped
- 1 yellow onion finely chopped
- 3 dl long grain rice or risotto rice
- 2 dl dry white wine
- 7 dl chicken stock
- 500 g shrimp peeled and cleaned
- 2 dl frozen green peas thawed or half-thawed
- 1 red bell pepper diced
- 1 batch Lime Aioli can be omitted
- 0.5 lemon cut in wedges
- Start by pouring about 1 Tbsp of your dry white wine into a small glass and mixing in the saffron. Set aside for now.
- Place a pan over medium-high heat and add in half of the butter. Season the chicken with salt and pepper and fry in the pan for about 5 minutes, until browned and cooked through. Place in a bowl and set aside for now.
- Add the rest of the butter along with the olive oil to the pan. When the butter is melted, add in the chopped garlic and onion and fry for about 2 minutes until browned.
- Add in the rice and mix. Fry for about a minute until the oil and butter has been absorbed.
- Add in the small amount of wine with saffron. Add some more wine to the glass and add this as well, to ensure you get all of the saffron. Then add in the rest of the wine. Mix well, bring to a simmer and lower the heat to medium. Let cook for a few minutes until the wine has been absorbed.
- Pour in half of the chicken stock, mix, bring to a simmer and lower the heat to medium-low. Let simmer until the stock has been absorbed. Then add in half of what's left, mix, and let simmer until absorbed. Finally add in the rest of the chicken stock and simmer until absorbed. This whole process takes about 20-25 minutes.
- Mix in your thawed green peas and red bell pepper. Then mix in the chicken and peeled shrimp. Mix well, turn off the heat, and let sit for two minutes to allow everything to get warm.
- Serve with lime aioli and lemon wedges.
Nutritional information is approximate and automatically calculated, and should only be viewed as an indication.