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Everything you wanted to know about Paella

Bob Hess, colleague and cooking instructor (along with being an expert on cutlery) came to my cable show with his fabulous, really, Paella recipe. Bob is known for detail so if you follow these instructions, you’ll get it right. His Paella was more than yummy, and presented beautifully. If you happen to be at Cookswares or Wms Sonoma in the Cincinnati area, you may be lucky enough to see Bob at either place, either teaching a cooking class or demo’ing his awesome display of knives, Shun in particular.DSCN4893 DSCN4896PAELLA


Paella: The flat round pan used to cook what is also called Paella.

Paella: A rice dish of various styles native to Spain and more specifically, Valencia. ( Possibly introduced by the Moors.)  It derives its name from the pan introduced to Spain by the Romans.

Sofrito: The aromatics used to flavor Paella: Usually using fat, annatto seeds, chopped onions, green peppers, garlic. (Many variations)

Socarrat: The browned crunchy rice on the bottom of the Paella pan.

Chorizo: Highly seasoned, flavorful, coarsely ground pork sausage, with various spices, usually including garlic and chili powder. Two types: Mexican (ground, fresh pork) and Spanish/European (solid, smoked pork). Chorizo can be used in all Paellas except vegan/vegetarian as desired.

Bomba Rice: A small to medium grain rice, cultivated to absorb more water, resist bursting. Best rice for Paella because it does not get sticky or creamy.

Saffron:  Red stigma of Saffron (purple autumn) crocus. Whole thread…red.

A Recipe

(13 inch Paella Pan (bottom))

Feeds 6-8




2 cups Bomba Rice
1 tsp.+ Smoked Paprika
5-6 cups Chicken stock(water okay) Heat slightly
½ gram (pinch) Saffron Stir into stock (can crush first)
1 Green Pepper Small dice
1 Small/medium onion Small dice
1 can Diced tomatoes Can use fresh (1 large)
1-2 cloves Garlic minced
4 Skinless Chicken Breasts(may substitute boneelss chix thighs) 1 inch cubes
1 lb. Spanish Chorizo 1 inch by 1/8+ discs
10 oz. Frozen peas
2-3 Tablespoons Olive Oil
To Taste S&P
1 Red Pepper Roasted and sliced*

You may add, change proportions or delete as you desire. Shaded area is Sofrito.


Mise en Place: Have all ingredients ready and prepared and measured.

  1. Sear chorizo slightly in a little olive oil and remove.
  2. Sear chicken cubes and add olive oil if needed and remove.
  3. Add Onions and Green pepper and sauté until soft. Then add garlic, diced tomatoes (if using) and annatto if using. (Again, add olive oil if needed.)(Season S&P)
  4. Add the rice and smoked paprika. Stir until covered with oil 3-5 minutes. Taste, and if necessary, season with S&P.
  5. Heat stock and add saffron.
  6. Add meats.
  7. Add stock and stir thoroughly,  bring to a boil.
  8. Cook on medium high heat for 15-20 minutes.
  9. 12-15 minutes in, add sliced, roasted red pepper in spoke design. Then add peas.
  10. Most liquid should be evaporated. Check bottom rice to see if browning and developing Socarrat. If not, heat on high about 5 more minutes then remove from heat and rest about 5 minutes.
  11. Taste and season S&P if necessary.


Total Prep time 15-20 minutes

Total cooking  time about 55 minutes.



Char over burner or under broiler. (If under broiler, rub skin with olive oil) Remove and place in paper or plastic bag and seal. 20-30 minutes later, remove charred skin, stem, seeds and any white ribs not yet removed.  You may scrape with a knife, after cutting and laying flat, or use a paper towel. Cut into battonets or julienne as desired. Commercially prepared, roasted red peppers are okay.


Suggested Recipe Books:

La Paella, Jeff Koehler, Chronicle Books, San Francisco, 2006.

Paella, Penelope Casas, Henry Holt and Company, 1999.

Paella Paella, Maria Solis Ballinger and Natalia Solis Ballinger, Myson Products, LLC, 2003.

The Amazing World of Rice, Marie Simmons, HarperCollins Publishers, Inc., 2003.









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