Thursday, June 16, 2011

Chicken & Shrimp Paella

Chicken & Shrimp Paella

I love any dish that can be served family style. I especially love it when I'm hosting a dinner party, or hoping for great leftovers.

Ever since I watched Mario Batali whip up paella on Oprah, I've been hooked on making it. Paella is a Spanish rice dish that reminds me of a risotto that you don't stir. Paella owes its distinctive flavor and color to two key ingredients. The first, is saffron, a delicate spice made from the stigma of special saffron flowers. Pound for pound, it's the world's most expensive spice, but a little goes a long way. When you buy it, you'll see that it comes in a tiny portion.

The second, is pimenton, a smoked paprika. When you pick this spice up, take a good whiff. The aroma is amazing!

The next key to a great paella is the rice. You need a starchy, creamy short grain rice, such as La Bomba, or Arborio (the rice also used in risotto). I also highly recommend using homemade chicken stock for that extra humph, but in a pinch, store bought will work.

Thirdly, you need the right pan. You can buy specially designed paella pans anywhere from Bed, Bath and Beyond to Williams Sonoma. You can find inexpensive ones, but in working with them, I've found that  they don't heat very evenly. I prefer to use my All-Clad Braising Pan. It pulls double duty for paellas, being the same shape as a traditional paella pan and perfect for the oven.

Once you're all set with your basic paella ingredients, you can choose your proteins. For this paella, I used organic chicken drumsticks and shrimp. I love the surf and turf combination, and getting my hands dirty with the drumsticks. But once you master it, feel free to experiment by adding other proteins.

If you've never made paella, here's your chance! It's a great dish for summer entertaining, or any old day of the week. Enjoy!

Chicken & Shrimp Paella
Serves 6-8 people
Cooking time: about 40 minutes
Print Recipe

  • 2 cups La Bomba, Arborio, or other short grain white rice
  • 4 1/2 cups chicken stock, preferably homemade 
  • 4 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 yellow onion, chopped
  • 1 bell pepper, chopped
  • 1/2 cup canned tomatoes, pureed
  • 2 tablespoons pimenton (smoked paprika)
  • 1 cup frozen peas
  • 2 spicy chicken sausages (chorizo or andouille), diced
  • 1 teaspoon saffron 
  • about 6 chicken drumsticks
  • 1/2 pound shrimp, peeled and deveined
  • lemon juice for garnishing
  • chopped parsley for garnishing
  • salt and freshly ground pepper

  1. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees.
  2. Rub the drumsticks with 2 tablespoons of the olive oil and season with salt and freshly ground pepper. Roast in the oven for about 45 minutes, or until cooked through. Remove and set aside.
  3. Meanwhile, heat the remaining olive oil  in the paella pan over medium heat. Add the onions and peppers and saute until tender (about 8 minutes).
  4. Add the sausage and cook for another few minutes. Then, add the tomato puree and cook for another 3 minutes. Add the saffron and pimenton and stir to combine. Cook for 3 more minutes. 
  5. Add the chicken stock and bring it to a boil. Reduce the heat and allow the mixture to simmer for about 5 minutes.
  6. Add the rice and peas and stir well to combine. Return to a boil and resist the urge to stir after this (paella should develop a crust on the bottom, so don't be alarmed). After it comes to a boil, reduce the heat and simmer for about 20 minutes.
  7. Once the rice is becoming tender, add the shrimp to the paella, allowing them to cook in the pan with the paella.
  8. Cook for for another 10 minutes, or until all of the stock is absorbed, the rice is tender, and the shrimp are cooked. Note: if the shrimp are smaller, they may be added later because they will need less time to cook.
  9. Spread the chicken drumsticks around the paella pan. Top with lemon juice and chopped parsley, and serve family style for a lovely dinner. Enjoy!

Source for Ingredients
  • onions, pepper, parsley, and lemons from West Hollywood Farmers Market
  • organic chicken drumsticks, saffron, and arbiorio rice from Trader Joe's
  • jumbo shrimp, chicken sausages, and pimenton from Whole Foods

Wine Pairing

With this meal, we drank a bottle of the 2007 Saxum Bone Rock (James Berry Vineyard). All of the 2007's are supposed to kick ass, so we were excited to sample this bottle of Saxum, which was rated an incredible 99 points by Robert Parker. This was a stunning wine, very very very young in maturity, but showcasing huge amounts of character and layers of flavor.

82% Syrah, 13% Mourvedre, and the rest Grenache, the wine is inky purple in color and huge on the nose and on the palate. Huge long almost minute long finish. Tastes of earth, licorice, raspberry, black fruit, with great minerality and structure. Given this fantastic bottle, we can't wait to try more of the 2007's.


  1. I know that a lot of my friends would enjoy the wine that you recommend! Great recipe too - you've almost combines my two favourite paella dished that are meat and seafood.

    1. Thanks! I love this dish. One of my staples. And Saxum is amazing wine... truly amazing... last year they won Wine of the Year...