The Valencia region of Spain is the birthplace of paella where the traditional ‘paella valenciana’ is cooked with rabbit, chicken, green beans, butter beans and maybe snails but definitely no seafood. A later creation is the ‘paella de marisco’ (seafood paella) which replaces meat with fish and seafood and leaves out the different beans. Our favourite is the ‘paella mixta’ (mixed paella) which is the best of both worlds as it includes a combination of meat and seafood. All these dishes are cooked with short-grain rice in a Valencian frying pan called a ‘paellera’.
Many people have told me that they’ve experienced disasters with paella recipes mainly due to rice still lying in the water/stock which makes the dish too soggy. I’ve never had any problem with this dish thanks to the lesson I learned from Emilio at Bar Victoria in Miraflores de la Sierra, a village in the Sierra de Guadarrama just outside Madrid.
Emilio invited me into his kitchen and took me through the process step by step and I can honestly say that restaurant paella is never as good as this homemade version. It is extremely flexible in terms of ingredients and cooking times so no need to get stressed, in fact a lot of the work can be done in advance.
Serves 6 – 8 people
- 1-2 large onions, chopped
- 1 head of garlic, crushed
- 2 large peppers, chopped (I use a green one & a red one)
- plenty olive oil (not extra virgin)
- 1 chicken stock cube (use a fish one if you prefer)
- 1 chicken chopped up into small pieces (could use chicken breasts)
- 250g small prawns
- 250g baby clams or clams
- 250g squid in rings
- mussels – 1 or 2 per person
- large prawns – 1 or 2 per person
- food colouring
- rice (short or long grain)
- 250g of frozen peas
- tin of pickled red peppers
- lemon wedges
You’ll need a paella pan and three large saucepans for the preparation.
Your purist Spanish chef will cook the dish from start to finish in a paella dish. I found that this caused a lot of spitting of hot ingredients considering the large open area of such a pan so I begin by cheating!
Take a large, deep saucepan and cover the bottom with the olive oil … no worries about quantity as you can’t go wrong. Add the chopped chicken and stir until you hear that the frying has started. Now throw in the chopped onion, pepper and garlic and fry away gently until everything is cooked. Lots of juices come out of the chicken during this stage leaving you with a pan full of delicious contents and a great smelling kitchen. Put this pan aside now as you won’t need it until we get to using the paella pan in the final stage.
This is the messy part of the preparation which you can begin while your pot of chicken is cooking away. You’ll need to take the heads and shells off all the small prawns and keep all the heads and shells. Put the peeled prawns to one side along with the calamari rings which should be halved. Also wash the mussels and clams.
The next stage is crucial ….
You MUST work with the correct quantity of liquid in this recipe. Whereas everything else is quite flexible this isn’t. I work on the basis of half a mug of rice per person so if we’re cooking for 8 people that’s 4 mugs of rice. Emilio taught me to use double the quantity of water to rice “plus a bit” which I’ve taken to be 9 mugs of water when cooking for these 8 people.
You’re only cooking for 4 people? Okay, so that’s 2 mugs of rice which requires 4 mugs of water “plus a bit” so up to 5 mugs of water.
Now add this water to another deep saucepan and throw in the mussels and clams. Bring them to the boil and continue until all the shells are open (discard any that don’t open) then sieve the water into another large saucepan. Set the mussels and clams aside as we won’t need them until the final stage.
Now in the water which you’ve just boiled the shellfish add the heads and shells from the small prawns. Once they’re boiling add some yellow food colouring (saffron is of course the choice of the purist here but it doesn’t create that fabulous paella colour and it’s expensive). Also add the chicken stock cube. A fish stock cube is an alternative but I use chicken to tone down the fish flavour slightly. The rice will take its salt from this stock cube.
After a few minutes of gentle boiling the water will have taken on the flavour of the prawn heads and shells and will have turned into a deep yellow colour. Turn off the heat and use a colander to sieve out the shells which can now be disposed of leaving you with a pan of delicious stock.
Now we can move outside and cook in the paella pan. In Spain we have burners that connect to a gas bottle and the paella pan sits on this burner. Alternatively you can place your paella pan on the gas rings of your cooker though you must try to make the heat supply equal on all parts of the pan.
Heat up the paella pan and add the contents of the saucepan containing the chicken, onions, peppers and garlic as well as the clams or baby clams. Once these start sizzling throw in the rice (remember.. 4 mugs for 8 people and 2 mugs for 4 people). Stir the rice into the juices and don’t worry if some bits stick as this becomes the favourite part of the paella in its home region of Valencia where the burnt bit is known as ‘socorrat’. Also add the peeled prawns and squid at this stage.
Immediately pour in the yellow fish stock, stir and allow to boil very gently. Don’t worry if all the stock doesn’t go in immediately, just let some cook off and add it later. Now you throw in the frozen peas and place the mussels, large prawns and strips of red peppers carefully to make the dish look as attractive as possible. This is where the guests start complimenting the chef!
Allow the paella to cook gently for around 20 minutes, turning the pan occasionally to make sure that all parts of it are cooking equally. Towards the end I like to put a newspaper over the pan which ensures that the rice on top cooks properly (keep the ink off the rice!). Once most of the liquid has been soaked up by the rice your masterpiece is finished. Just place a few lemon wedges on top and place the whole paella pan in front of your very impressed guests.
And thanks for the recipe Emilio.
26 thoughts on “Paella Mixta Recipe”
Hi, having gone through many recipes on the net I was delighted to find what I would call a genuine one for Paella. Many thanks.
Everyone seems to have their own version of this recipe. This one is tried and tested thanks to my friends in Madrid and works perfectly every time.
Hope you enjoy it.
I needed to write out this recipe for school and it took me ages. Then we didn’t need it afterall so it annoyed me that there was so much detail.
It’s tough out there Sophie … glad I’m not a kid these days 😉
I’m a freelance journalist whose traveled to Spain more than a dozen times. And several Spanish friends have taught me “their” version of Paella. So when San Antonio, Texas held its 6th Annual Paella festival, I was amazed at the innovative ways in which Texas chefs and those from around the country “improvised” on the celebrated Paella. In reading your recipe from Bar Victoria in Miraflores, I see Spaniards do the same thing in Spain!
Can’t wait to try this, it sounds wonderful!! Just one question =how much is a mug ? Is it the same as a cup?
Good question Maria … for me a mug is a large cup so half a mug is the amount of rice I’d expect one person to eat.
Hi Gerry, I think Maria is referring to the American measuring unit of cup which is 250ml of liquids according to my measuring jug – which is a lot more than a coffee cup (which I believe you are referring to) but roughly as much as goes into a decent mug – so yes, in that way your mug and her cup are about the same! I actually think one of your mugs of rice is a lot for two people, but then I’m used to making basmati rice, with that I usually use half a mug for two people (or even 2 and a half). I’m going to try out your recipe today (with basmati rice and some other changes as I don’t have time to go to the shops!), let’s see how it works out! It certainly sounds good!
Just to let you know that this worked perfectly even though I had to cut a few corners as I didn’t have fresh seafood (only pre-cooked and de-shelled already) and couldn’t produce the lovely fish stock. I used a little Thai fish sauce instead for the taste and cooked everything in one go in my trusted steel wok (with a lid on), adding a little more hot water when I added the pre-cooked stuff at the end. It worked perfectly, Emilio’s water/rice measurements were spot on! I even got the sticky rice at the very bottom! 🙂
If I’m using ready made chicken stock how much do I use for 6 ppl?
The key is that the amount of stock is twice the amount of rice (plus a bit!). So if you’re using 3 mugs of rice for 6 people I’d use 7 mugs of stock. I keep adding it until it’s all used up. It’s certainly not an exact science and you’ll find yourself being quite flexible after a few attempts.
Hope that helps.
Using this recipe I cooked paella for friends last weekend who absolutely loved it. The effort making the stock is really worth it as it gives the rice tremendous flavour. I used saffron and paprika for colour and flavour. 1 cup=240ml and I found 1/2 cup rice per person about right. I also used ‘Bomba’ rice, so stock to rice ratio was 3 to 1. Thanks for a great recipe.
Hi Michael … Glad you liked it. It’s always proved a winner for us 🙂
Can you make a suggestion please, I always loved paella, but my problem is my husband is HIGHLY ALLERGIC TO PEPPERS can you suggest an alternative or is the peppers more for colour than flavour ?
Hi Susan … there’s so much flavour in there that leaving out the peppers altogether will make little difference.
hi I am about to have a go at your recipe, I am cooking for about 20 -25 people so what do suggest the amount of rice and stock to use, my Paella pan is quite large so will it cook ok do think.
Just follow the instructions in the recipe. For this many people you will need a seriously large pan.
Hi, I am going to do your Paella recipe next weekend. I have some saffron so will use it instead of yellow colouring. How much should I use?
Hi Rosie … Just use a pinch of saffron (very small quantity required).
I’m from Valencia (Spain), and if you want to eat a real paella yo must come here.
I’m sure people would love to come to your beautiful country but circumstances may stop them so the only way to experience this lovely dish is to find a really good recipe like this one and have it at home. I am in Spain at the moment but will be trying your recipe as soon as I get back home to Scotland for the rest of the family. Thankyou for taking the time to post this.
Can the dish be cooked in advance, frozen and then reheated?
That seems to me to be a really bad idea. It’s so good to eat fresh paella the moment the heat is switched off so I cannot imagine freezing it. Anyone tried this?
We live in Murcia and I have used this recipe many times to much acclaim. The only difference I make is to add the prawns, mussels and clams after about 10 minutes of the rice cooking so that they do not overcook and become “rubbery”. I agree with previous comments that it is worth the effort to create and build the flavour of the stock as it is this that gives the final dish it’s great taste. Another good tip is to eat it with plenty of allioli on the side of your plate which transforms the overall flavour. Thanks for the recipe. Malcolm Green
Hi – am in Benidorm with family and sadly have to say there are 4 of us and we just had probably the worse paella ever. Just said I will cook this recipe when we get home xx
Hi Jack … there are some nasty attempts at cooking paella in holiday resorts. Good luck with this recipe, I’m sure it will be most enjoyable after your bad experience.
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