Sunday Supper: Adoración’s Spanish Paella

PUBLISHED ON: 08.31.2014
Paella is a classic Spanish dish that is defined as a rice stew  A dish made of saffron flavored rice with chicken, shellfish, and a variety of other ingredients cooked together to create a communal style meal, meaning that everyone finds a place around the pan to enjoy.
Americans tend to lean into the belief that paella is served on special ocassions or as a fancy dish in a Spanish restuarant.  The reality is Spanish families prepare paella often for their families, in a simple good old-fashioned way….. At home, and on their stove top.  Sometimes with a paella pan, or a large skillet.
Two things struck me about this classic Spanish dish.  First, it is not a complicated dish and almost any ingredient can be used in paella.  Second, this is a dish that is accessible to all cooks. There are as many ways to prepare paella as there is a Sunday Sauce, the possibilities are endless.
On a blistering hot afternoon in Madrid I sat in Adoración’s kitchen to watch and learn how a Spanish family prepares Paella.  Like most recipes in Spanish families they are handed down from mother to daughter, and remain timeless.  In my elementary Spanish I wrote down feversihly the ingredients,  snapped photos and wrote her directions.  I give my best effort and my heart to provide you with her recipe.
To begin, a sofrito is prepared which commonly includes garlic, onion, paprika (peppers) and tomatoes cooked in olive oil.  This creates the flavor foundation in many Spanish dishes.  Interesting, onion is commonly used in Spain but in this dish is purposefully left out.
Meats are cooked individually and then removed. The chicken and fish has been removed and calamari has been added.
When all the meats have been cooked the ingredients are returned to the pan and water or broth is added.  The rice will be added and the paella will be brought to a hard boil for several minutes and it will then be returned to a simmer.


Adoración reminded me of the importance to taste start to finish and adjust your seasoning.


The result is a beautiful classic, family style paella


Adoración’s Spanish Paella 
Serves 6-8
Equipment Needed:  A round 10-12″ skillet or small paella pan
1/4 cup olive oil
2 bell peppers (chopped into large pieces)
1lb. white fish, cut into chunks (note: Monkfish was the fish of choice as it is an appreciated fish enjoyed often in Spain)
1-1/2 lbs. chicken breasts, cut into chunks
2 tomatoes, chopped
2 garlic cloves, chopped
2-ounces red pimento
8-ounces small tender early green peas
8-ounces canned white albacore chunk tuna, drained
8-ounces artichokes, drained, chopped
Salt to Taste
Spanish Saffron a/k/a Spanish Red Gold
1 packet Sazón (Means “Seasoning” in Spanish. The seasoning adds flavor and also the subtle orange hue to the rice). This seasoning packet is easily found in the ethnic section of your grocery store.
1lb. fresh calamari
4 cups short grain rice
8 cups water or broth (seafood or chicken)
*Pinch of sugar to reduce the acid of the tomatoes
1.  Heat olive oil and add bell peppers and cook until to translucent (about 3-4 minutes) Remove.
2.  Add chicken breasts to hot oil, and season with salt.  Cook (about 3-4 minutes) browning the chicken breasts is not necessary.  Remove from heat.
3.  Add tomatoes, a pinch of sugar, peppers, garlic, salt to taste and simmer for 3-4 minutes.
4.  Add calamari, chicken, and fish to tomato and garlic mixture. Simmer on low heat for 5-6 minutes.
5.  Add water, tuna, and peas.  Simmer to a boil.  Add saffron and Sazón.  
6.  Add rice, bring to a hard boil (approximately 10 minutes)  turn down temperature to a simmer for 5 minutes, and rest for another 10 minutes. Add artichokes, dress wth the pimento peppers and serve.


Note:  I have been asked many times how an opportunity like this journey to Spain came to be a reality.  Over the years, our family has hosted students from Europe (Germany, Netherlands and Spain). These children spend a high school year with our family and become very much part of our family.   This past year, we hosted a wonderful child from Spain. This summer we traveled to Spain to meet his family, it was truly an absolutely amazing experience.

  • Pictures are worth a thousand words. I've been waiting for this recipe! YUMMO -thx Velva!

  • Definitely one of the best things of travel is learning what is available in home kitchens. You're right I consider paella to be a special occasion dish, but then I live inland and seafood is top dollar.

  • Velva, I truly appreciate your treasure here. What a magnificent experience and what a valuable recipe you have and you are sharing. How I wish we all could have been in that kitchen with you.

  • Paella in Spain–how lucky are you?

  • Dear Velva, What a wonderful experience to learn how to make this dish from an authentic source; in Spain. This is such a wonderful memory and so delicious! Blessings dear. Catherine

  • I always thought it was fancy, special occasion and difficult so thanks for the myth buster – this is one rice dish I really like. This looks delicious Velva and I have one question – Since the word pimento can mean many things from a type of pepper to the pickled things in olives – I'm not sure what is used here.

  • I love paella and make it often. Thank you for sharing this special recipe straight from the source. Doesn't get more authentic than this!

  • So wonderful of you to share a true Spanish paella. Love it!

  • Paella from a Spanish kitchen. What a lifetime treat.

  • What a special experience for you. GREG

  • What a fantastic experience, Velva. 🙂 It looks absolutely scrumptious. 🙂

  • I love love love paella!

  • I'd love to have a place around that pan! Surprising that no onions are in the dish. What a nice way to learn to prepare it–in a Spanish kitchen.Best,Bonnie

  • When I go home to St. Augustine I must go to one special restaurant that serves Moroccan Paella!! Have never had it with chicken though. They throw in what ever fish they have, shrimp, scallops, oysters and any thing else that they may have that once lived in the ocean or marsh. I must print this off and try it myself!!

  • Ant that Minorcan – not Moroccan!! (spellcheck)

  • Velva, thank you for stopping by my blog. I'm so happy to have discovered yours! It's been fun going through and reading all the recipes and the pictures are fabulous. Enjoy your day!

  • That looks amazing Velva….absolutely delicious!! I love Paella! So glad you had a nice time in Spain!

  • Thank for for adding that bit of information about how you came about traveling to Spain and staying with this family, Velva! What a wonderful opportunity and I'm certain that family was very happy to have you as the host family to their son. After my trip to Spain many years ago I tried so had to recreate the paella that I ate on the southern coast and came pretty close. That one contained shrimp and clams as well. It's such a delicious dish and thank you for sharing your host family's traditional version! It looks wonderful!

  • I love paella — it's so hearty and comforting! This recipe sounds delicious!

  • Gorgeous dish. I love bringing home recipes from my travels. Thanks for sharing yours.

  • Hi Velva!Okay so I'm assuming I missed all the Spain news while I was away??? Oh my, I will be catching up ASAP!The thought of watching a regional and personal dish being made before your very eyes just sends me in a whirl. A memory I'm sure you will cherish forever:)I adore Paella and use to make it all the time. I'm having issues with my seafood \”connections\” her in PA but I'm working on it:) although, I noticed this recipe uses tuna, very interesting…Thank you so much for sharing your experience and the recipe Velva. Your Paella looks delicious…

  • What a wonderful trip and how fun to actually be able to be in the kitchen with your hostess while she prepares her family paella. I am totally intimidated by paella, but your pictures really pull the whole experience together for me. How wonderful that your family hosts kids from other countries and they get to share their backgrounds and lives together with your kids.Sam

  • I love the versatility of paella, and you've really pointed up how it is a traditional, everyday meal in Spain–lending itself to personal interpretation. (interesting how onion is omitted!)Still, there is something wonderful and celebratory about this one-dish feast. What a great experience to be in the family kitchen, watching paella being made.

  • paella is one of my favorite dishes and i love the use of the veggies in yours. IT looks delicious and so I love that you added in calamari. I am going to have to try that next time as i always use shrimp, mussels and clams

  • I have to admit I've never actually had paella, and I also have to admit that yours is positively the most appetizing I've ever seen!! I like the use of the veggies. I can see this on a table near me soon!!

  • I've always wanted to try a paella.

  • You have the real deal here. What a great trip you had and so many wonderful foodie memories too. I am glad you are sharing them.

  • Your paella looks so satisfying and ever so tasty, Velva.

  • That dish looks fantastic! I have cooked paella a few times but I didn't know you should cook the fish and chicken separately. Will definitely try that next time. This is the real thing and I want to follow the recipe to the T. Thanks for a great dish!

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