No one said it had to look pretty... (Daring Cooks Sept.'12: Paella)

Here's the deal.

It doesn't have to be pretty to be good.

Sometimes, you just want hunks of meat sitting on top of mounds of rice.

I wonder if that was what the Valencians were thinking when they created paella?

I know that is what was on my mind.

Hunks of meat + lots of rice = happy Dude.

In the interests of full disclosure, I am pretty sure my "paella" is not an authentic paella.

It might qualify as a mixed paella - if one can overlook the fact that I used an inauthentic cooking vessel.

Which means that I didn't get the crispy rice crust on the bottom. Paella just isn't paella without the crunchy rice crust.

I used my 9.5 quart enameled cast iron Dutch oven. If I had been planning ahead, I would have borrowed a paella pan from my mother. Oddly enough, my mother actually owns a paella pan.

Considering everything that went into this dish, it came together fairly quickly. From start to finish, I would estimate the whole process took 1 1/4 to 1 1/2 hours.

Crazy, right?

Adapted from

1/2 cup warm water
Small pinch of saffron threads (~1/2 tsp)
1/2 Tbs kosher salt
1/2 Tbs smoked paprika
1 tsp black pepper, freshly ground
6 chicken thighs, boned and skin removed
1 pound Spanish chorizo or other smoky sausage - cut into 1" chunks
2 pounds mussels, scrubbed and debearded
1/2 pound peeled, deveined shrimp
1 Tbs olive oil
1 large onion, chopped
1 bell pepper, chopped
1 cubanelle pepper, chopped
2 jalapeno peppers, seeds removed and finely diced
3-4 cloves of garlic, minced
2 cups of long-grained rice
3 cups of low-sodium chicken or vegetable stock
1 14.5 ounce cane of diced tomatoes in their juice
1/4 cup roasted red peppers, chopped
Kernels from 3 ears of corn, removed from cob

Preheat oven to 400F. Mix warm water and saffron in a small dish. Set aside to steep. Combine salt, pepper and paprika and rub into chicken thighs. Set aside.

Heat oil in a large Dutch oven over medium high heat. Place sausage into heated pan and saute until well browned. Remove sausage from pot and set on a plate to rest. Place chicken into pot and saute until golden brown on both sides (~3-4 minutes each side). Transfer to plate with sausage.

Drain off most of liquid from bottom of pot (leave a slight coating on bottom of pot). Add onion and peppers and saute until tender and onions start to pick up color (~5-7 minutes). Add garlic and continue cooking for another minute. Add rice and stir well to coat with oil. Add the saffron liquid, using a large spatula to scrape up any browned bits from the bottom of the pot.

Stir in the broth, tomatoes in their juice and the roasted red peppers. Bring to a simmer. Stir in the sausage, then place the chicken on top of the mixture. Cover the pot with a tight fitting lid and place into the oven for ~25 minutes - until rice is almost tender. Removed the pot from the oven and stir the mixture. If the mixture seems too dry, stir in another 1/2 cup of broth. Place the mussels on top of the rice, cover and return to the oven for another 10 minutes. After 10 minutes, add the shrimp and corn to the pot, cover and return to the oven for an additional 5 minutes.

Remove the pot from the oven. If the mussels need a little longer to finish cooking, let the pot sit covered for another 5-10 minutes until finished cooking (You want the mussels to fully open - discard any that didn't open during cooking).

Stir well and spoon into bowls.

 This post particpates in The Daring Cooks. Our Daring Cooks’ September 2012 hostess was Inma of la Galletika. Inma brought us a taste of Spain and challenged us to make our very own delicious Paella!


  1. Real paella or not, it sounds really nice. I'm always lazy with this dish - there's a frozen paella mix they sell in a supermarket chain in Portugal which is so good, I've never tried to do it from scratch.

  2. Cher, paella is soo good - now I am hungry. But I have never made it, although I have eaten it before and enjoyed it very much and the presentation of a paella is always nice, no matter whether you use the original pan or a cast iron skillet.

  3. Looks great to me!!! I do have to say after getting the socarrat on the bottom, I don't know that I would easily give it up. If was a wonderful addition, get that pan from your mom and give it a try!

  4. Who says that's not pretty? This paella loving' girl thinks it's gorgeous!

  5. Haha even chunks of meat sitting on rice can look very delicious :D
    This looks awesome!


  6. Seriously - so yummy looking. Kudos to you for knocking this out !!!!

  7. I love this! Looks fantastic!

  8. Yum that paella looks delicious! Great job!


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