Cast Iron Paella
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.