Spanish Paella


Paella is an amazing dish and simple to make and is so unique to family, region and culture. I wanted to get the true experience of enjoying a paella recipe that has been past down.    So this weekend I became the sous chef to Isabel Santiso, who we invited over to our house to show us how to make traditional paella.

Isabel grew up in Madrid and being in central Spain paella usually consisted of game, pork, and chicken. Here in the states paella is offered as a seafood dish filled with mussels, shrimp, and calamari. She explained it’s typically whatever the hunters brought back, if you grew up on the coast is whatever the fisherman caught.

She was enthusiastic in describing her uncle’s hearth back in Madrid, it was the size of a small suv and his paella pan was the size of a refrigerator.  When they had parties they set out this huge paella pan and everyone served themselves.   That blew my mind how unbelievably awesome that would be to be a part of and witness.

Watching Isabel assemble her mise en place you can tell she’s probably made this dish a few times before.  

Watching Isabel assemble her mise en place you can tell she’s probably made this dish a few times before.  


The seafood in this recipe is because of me.  I got so excited to make paella that before she told me what to pick up I had already grabbed shrimp and mussels.   So you can substitute out the seafood with pork or whatever protein you wish.


Prep Time:  30-35 minutes         Cook time:  30-40 minutes                Yield:  10-12 servings


The recipe


In mortar and pestle

  • 4 garlic cloves
  • 1½ tsp. coarse sea salt
  • ½ tsp. saffron threads
  • ½ cup fresh parsley


  • 1 large red bell pepper- medium diced
  • 3 plum tomatoes – medium diced (with skin and seeds)
  • 3 celery stalks – medium diced
  • 3 carrots medium diced
  • 1 white onion medium diced
  • ½ cup extra virgin olive oil to sauté mirepoix


  • 2-3 large skinless chicken breasts – large diced
  • 3 cups organic long grain brown rice, or bomba paella rice
  • 6 -7 cups good chicken broth
  • The saffron/garlic paste in the mortar and pestle
  • 1 lb. chorizo sausage – medium sliced
  • 22-24 asparagus stalks, ends removed
  • 1 cup frozen peas (I forgot to pull out of the freezer, oops!)


Seafood – add near the end of cooking

  • 10-12 large shrimp peeled and deveined
  • 10-12 PEI Mussels – light rinse



In a large mortar and pestle add garlic cloves, salt, saffron and parsley.   Smash until it’s the texture of a paste and set aside.   



Add olive oil to a large sauté pan or paella pan.  Dice the bell pepper, celery, onion, tomato and carrots add to the pan and turn heat to medium high.  Sauté for 5-7 minutes or until the vegetables begin to sweat, stir often.  Add the chicken and sauté for 2-3 minutes.



Reduce the heat to medium and add the rice, broth, peas, chorizo and saffron/garlic paste.   Stir to incorporate and in a circular pattern add your asparagus stalks.  


Cover and let cook for approximately 30-35 minutes.  Do not stir you want to develop a crust at the bottom of the pan.  When the liquids are almost dissolved add your mussels and shrimp.   You want enough liquid in the pan to steam the mussels, but not to over cook.   Cook for another 5-7 minutes.  

Remove the pan from the heat and let rest covered for another 5 minutes.  Remove the lid and enjoy.