This is an impressive dish that is perfect to serve at a party with a group of friends, at an intimate dinner party, or to your family on a Saturday evening. It is a recipe that is endlessly versatile and a great way to repurpose leftover proteins and veggies in your refrigerator.
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I have fond memories of a romantic vacation in San Francisco, eating paella in a gorgeous Spanish restaurant. I had never experienced paella before, but I thought it was a safe choice. I mean a rice dish is pretty mainstream. How wrong I was!
What a monumental flavor experience. It was nothing like I expected, yet incredibly delicious. Smoky and spicy from the chorizo, hearty with chunks of tender chicken and succulent shrimp nestled in a bed of tomato and spice scented rice and vegetables. I was hooked after one bite.
We ate right out of the pan. Finally, I hit this crusty, crunchy part on the bottom. Did they scorch our beautiful paella? Should we eat this stuff or complain about burned food?
Luckily, our server educated me on how exquisitely flavorful and decadent this bottom layer was. It was not burned, but instead is a much sought after, prized part of the paella. Socarrat. It was a game changer and something that I thought about, dreamt about, fantasied about for a long time afterward.
This crispy crust is called a Socarrat. It is super flavorful and determines an okay paella from a great paella. Unfortunately, cooking the paella in the oven doesn’t get the delicious Socarrat on the bottom. But no worries. This recipe only looks daunting – it is actually pretty straightforward. If you can make a box of Rice-a-Roni, you can make paella.
Tips for making a perfect Chicken, Chorizo, and Shrimp Paella
- Use a pan that is shallow and wide. Paella pans are preferred, but a good, large skillet will work just as well.
- Don’t stir the paella once the shrimp are added. This will allow the bottom to begin to crust. Trust me, you want this.
- Watch the heat and turn your skillet if necessary. You want the bottom to brown and carmelize evenly.
- Use oil, either oil from the chorizo or vegetable oil to coat the rice. This is important to keep the rice grains separated.
A one-pot, classic Spanish Paella recipe complete with the golden, crispy, crunchy crust and the warm, spicy traditional flavors of paella.
For the chicken marinade:
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 tablespoon smoked paprika
- 1 teaspoon oregano
- 1 teaspoon rosemary
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon black pepper
- 2 pounds skinless, boneless chicken breasts, cut into 2-inch cubes
For the sofrito:
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 6 very ripe plum tomatoes, seeded and chopped
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
- 1 pinch saffron threads or ¼ teaspoon turmeric
- ½ cup chopped fresh parsley
- Zest of 2 lemons
- 1 yellow onion, finely chopped
- 1 red bell pepper, finely chopped
For the paella:
- 1 pound chorizo sausage, casings removed or if using dried chorizo, slice into thin rounds
- 2 cups medium-grain rice
- ½ cup dry white wine
- 4 cups chicken stock
- 1 14-ounce can artichoke hearts, drained and chopped
- 1 cup frozen peas
- 1 pound medium shrimp, peeled and deveined (I like 36/40 count)
- Make the marinade. In a ziplock bag, combine the olive oil, paprika, oregano, rosemary, salt, and pepper. Close the bag and squeeze to mix the ingredients together. Add the chicken, secure the bag, and massage the chicken cubes with the marinade. Place in the refrigerator for at least one hour.
- Make the sofrito. In a large bowl, mix together the olive oil, chopped tomatoes, garlic, red pepper flakes, saffron, parsley, lemon zest, onion, and red bell pepper. Stir well and set aside.
- In a large skillet over medium heat, slide the chorizo into the pan and begin to break up the meat with a spoon. Cook, stirring and breaking up the meat, until browned and cooked through – about 4-5 minutes. If you are using dried chorizo, saute the sliced rounds, stirring, until browned and some of the fat has been rendered out.
- Without draining the chorizo drippings from the pan, add the rice and stir until all the grains are coated with the chorizo fat.
- Scoop the chicken into the skillet. Stir the meat into the rice and chorizo and allow to begin cooking for 5 minutes.
- Use a spatula to spoon the sofrito into the skillet. Stir into the meats and rice.
- Pour in the chicken stock and wine.
- Add the artichoke hearts and peas. Stir the vegetables into the rice and meats. Bring the mixture up to a boil. Cover, reduce the heat to medium-low, and simmer for 10 minutes.
- Uncover the lay the shrimp on top of the rice. Replace the cover and continue to simmer for another 10-15 minutes longer until most of the liquid has been absorbed. The rice should be al dente. If you break a piece of rice, you should see a little white dot in the center. The shrimp should be opaque. Remove the cover from the pan.
- Turn the heat up to high under the skillet. Allow the bottom of the pan to begin to carmelize. Pay attention to the sound of the rice cooking – it should crackle. Also pay attention to the smell – it should smell toasted, but definitely not burned. Allow the Socarrat to toast for about 2 minutes.
- Remove the skillet from the heat and cover with a dish towel. Allow the paella to rest for 10 minutes before serving.
- When serving, stir while scraping up from the bottom to release the Socarrat and stir the toasted bits into the rice.
- Serving Size: Serves 8 - 10
Looking for ideas to serve with this Chicken, Chorio, & Shrimp Paella? Here are a few suggestions: