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Making Paella The Spanish Way 101

Following his foray into Italy, editor Chad January  keeps it continental with his fresh take on several of Spain’s most iconic dishes. 

Valencian-style paella
Serves 6-8 • Total Time 1 Hour


Salt and freshly ground black pepper
Chicken thighs, skin on 8
Canola oil 3 tbsp
Chorizo or streaky bacon, chopped 200g

Onion, chopped 1
Garlic, chopped 3 cloves
Green pepper, chopped ½
Yellow pepper, chopped ½
Red pepper, chopped 1
Plum or salad tomatoes, chopped 5-6
Fresh rosemary and thyme few sprigs
Sugar pinch

Chicken or fish stock 2L
Saffron pinch (optional)
Smoked paprika 3 tbsp
Short grain rice (like arborio) 3 cups
White wine ¼  cup (optional)
Prawns, defrosted and deveined 400g
Fresh mussels 200g
Fresh parsley, chopped 1 punnet
Lemon, juiced 1
Garlic, chopped 1 clove
Olive oil 2 tbsp

Did you know? Sofrito is a Spanish tomato sauce that forms the base of every good paella.  


  1. Generously season the chicken. 
  2. Heat the canola oil in a large ovenproof pan or skillet. 
  3. Brown the chicken in batches for about 4-6 minutes or until golden. Set aside. 
  4. Add the chorizo or bacon and fry for 2-3 minutes until crispy. Remove from the pan and set aside.


  1. Keeping the same pan on the heat, add another splash of canola oil and lower the heat. 
  2. Add the peppers, onion and garlic. 
  3. Cook gently in the pan for 8-10 minutes, stirring regularly. 
  4. Add the tomatoes, rosemary, thyme and sugar to the pan. Cook for about 15-20 minutes, stirring occasionally. 


  1. While the sofrito cooks, heat the stock and saffron (if using) together in a small pot and cover to infuse. 
  2. Add the paprika and rice to the sofrito and cook for a few minutes. Keep stirring until the rice starts to toast and pop in the pan. 
  3. Deglaze the pan with the wine (if using) and scrape off the bits of food that have caught on the bottom.  
  4. Ladle 3/4 of the stock into the pan and cook for about 10 minutes, stirring regularly. 
  5. Nestle the chicken in the rice, pour over the remaining stock and cook for another 15-20 minutes while stirring regularly, or until 3/4 of the liquid has been absorbed. 
  6. Stir through the prawns and mussels. Cook for a further 10 minutes or until the seafood and chicken are well cooked through. 
  7. Remove from heat and stir through the parsley, lemon juice, garlic and olive oil. Set aside. 8. Just before serving, get started ‘1 on making the soccarat. Place the pan of paella over high heat and cook for 2-3 minutes or until the rice sizzles and creates a crust at the bottom. 9. Serve with parsley, lemon wedges, aioli and crusty bread. 

Did you know? Soccarat is the crispy crust of rice formed on the bottom of the paella at the end of cooking  


– Swap out prawns and mussels for defrosted marinara mix. 
– Don’t have smoked paprika? Use regular paprika instead.
– Use regular mayonnaise instead of making aioli. 

– Swap out wine for stock. 
– Can’t find chorizo or streaky bacon? Use sliced pork bangers or bacon bits. 
– Replace saffron with ground turmeric. It will give the paella its iconic yellow colour.   

Photography: Zhann Solomons 

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