We’re Cooking: Paella

Part two of Gary’s birthday dinner included a twist on a traditional Spanish Paella….I seemed to be in a Spanish mood with white gazpacho and paella.  I didn’t have time to stand over a pan and stir and stir and stir, so opted to make it in a large cast iron dutch oven instead that allowed me to start the dish on the stove-top, then move it into the oven to finish.  Hearty, spicy and so good.  This one takes a bit more time, but worth it when you taste the saffron and veggies, the rich shrimp and sausage and spoonfuls of yummy rice.


1 large white onion – chopped
1 large fennel bulb – frawns removed and set aside for garnish, bulb cleaned and chopped
1 red pepper – stem and seeds removed, sliced into 1/2 inch strips
1 yellow pepper – stem and seeds removed, sliced into 1/2 inch strips
1 carrot – skinned and chopped
2 celery stalks – chopped
5 garlic cloves – chopped
Olive oil
1 cup white wine
5 cups chicken stock
2 1/4 cups long grain rice
2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
1 pound chorizo or smoked sausage, case removed and sliced into 1/2 inch pieces
1 pound large shrimp – shelled and deveined
1 pound either fresh, live clams or mussels (I used clams because time was short and I didn’t have time to clean and debeard the mussels, both would be great)
1 healthy pinch saffron
1 tablespoon paprika
1 tablespoon ground coriander
1 teaspoon cumin
1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
Salt and pepper to taste
2 tablespoons fresh parsley – chopped
1 tablespoon fresh thyme
1 tablespoon fresh chives – chopped
Fennel frawns, for garnish

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  Heat an oven top grill pan, or the outdoor grill to medium heat.  Season the chicken with salt and pepper and a bit of olive oil and grill until cooked through. (You could roast the chicken also, but the grill adds another layer of smokiness that is delicious.) Set aside.  Heat 3 tablespoons of olive oil in a large dutch oven.  Add all of the veggies and begin to cook through.  All of these are pretty sturdy veggies, so all can be cooked together at once, continuing to stir as the veggies begin to break down.  Season with about a teaspoon each of salt and pepper about 3 minutes into cooking to help them release some moisture.  If there is not enough moisture add about 1/2 of the wine.  Add in the thyme and all of the spices except the saffron.  Stir to mix well.  Add the rice, chicken stock, remaining wine and saffron and bring up to a boil.  Once the pot has boiled for about 2 minutes turn the heat off and place in the oven for 10 minutes.  After 10 minutes add the shrimp and clams to the pot.  Stir in and return the pot to the oven.  After another 10 minutes the rice should be close to being fully cooked.  Remove the pot from the oven and place back on the stove top on a low simmer.  Stir in the chicken, the sausage and the parsley.  Adjust the seasoning with more salt and pepper, if needed.  If the rice still needs more time, keep it covered on a low stove  for another 5-8 minutes.  When ready to serve you can either spoon the paella into a serving dish, or just serve out of the dutch oven, and garnish with chives and the fennel frawns.