Why This Recipe Works

Saffron-infused paella is a popular Spanish rice and seafood dish that's packed with flavor, but unusual ingredients and complicated preparations can make it intimidating to tackle at home. We translated this Spanish classic for American kitchens by taking advantage of the inherent benefits of the cast-iron skillet. We started by browning chicken, then sautéing vegetables and aromatics with flavorful chorizo. Next, we added rice, along with saffron and a whopping hit of garlic. Tomatoes cooked until they darkened created deep flavor in a short amount of time. When the rice reached al dente, we added our seafood and let it finish cooking. The briny mussels and shrimp released their juices, flavoring the rice even more. A simple sprinkling of peas brightened the flavor of the dish. One of the key elements of paella is the soccarat, a crusty brown layer of rice that develops on the bottom of the dish. A traditional stainless-steel pan would have to sit over high heat for the last 5 minutes of cooking to develop this crust, which creates a high risk of the more delicate ingredients overcooking, but the cast-iron pan, with its high heat retention, naturally created the crust during the course of cooking the recipe without any extra steps.


Print Shopping List

12 ounces extra-large shrimp (21 to 25 per pound), peeled and deveined
9 garlic cloves, minced
3 tablespoons vegetable oil
Salt and pepper
12 ounces boneless, skinless chicken thighs, trimmed and cut crosswise into thirds
8 ounces Spanish-style chorizo sausage, halved lengthwise and sliced 1/4 inch thick
1 red bell pepper, stemmed, seeded, and chopped fine
1 onion, chopped fine
1 ¼ cups Valencia or Arborio rice
½ teaspoon saffron threads, crumbled
1 (14.5-ounce) can diced tomatoes, drained
2 ¼ cups chicken broth
¼ cup dry white wine
12 mussels, scrubbed and debearded
½ cup frozen peas
Lemon wedges
Nutritional Information


Per Serving (Serves 4)

  • Calories 900
  • Cholesterol 253 mg
  • Fat 40 g
  • Sodium 1618 mg
  • Saturated 10 g
  • Carbs 72 g
  • Trans 0 g
  • Dietary Fiber 6 g
  • Monounsaturated 20 g
  • Sugar 8 g
  • Polyunsaturated 5 g
  • Protein 57 g

The information shown is Edamam’s estimate based on available ingredients and preparation. It should not be considered a substitute for a professional nutritionist’s advice.

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Serves 4 to 6

If you can't find chorizo sausage, use andouille or linguiça.

1. Toss shrimp with 1 teaspoon garlic and 1 tablespoon oil and season with salt and pepper; set aside. Pat chicken dry with paper towels and season with salt and pepper. Heat 12-inch cast-iron skillet over medium heat for 5 minutes. Add 1 tablespoon oil and heat until just smoking. Brown chicken on all sides, about 6 minutes; transfer to bowl.

2. Heat remaining 1 tablespoon oil in now-empty skillet until shimmering. Add chorizo, bell pepper, onion, and 1/4 teaspoon salt and cook until vegetables are softened, about 5 minutes. Stir in rice, saffron, and remaining garlic and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Stir in tomatoes and cook until mixture begins to darken and thicken slightly, about 3 minutes. Stir in broth and wine, scraping up any browned bits, and bring to simmer.

3. Nestle chicken into skillet. Reduce heat to gentle simmer, cover, and cook until most of liquid is absorbed and rice is al dente, about 15 minutes.

4. Insert mussels hinged side down into rice (so they stand upright) and scatter shrimp over top. Cover and cook until shrimp are opaque throughout and mussels have opened, 6 to 8 minutes.

5. Off heat, discard any mussels that refuse to open. Scatter peas over rice, cover, and let sit until heated through, about 5 minutes. Serve immediately with lemon wedges.