This recipe is great for cooking on the stove, as well as the bbq, but if the weather is good it is worth the extra time and effort to cook outside.
This recipe serves 3 people, but quantities can be multiplied if you have a paella dish large enough to cater for more people. We have also had success making this version of paella using a cast-iron skillet (which is good for distributing the heat) but any wide, shallow pan should suffice if you prefer not to invest in a paella pan.
Once you get the basics of paella, you can experiment with the ingredients to find your favourite flavours and textures – rabbit and seafood are good meats to try and fatty cuts like chicken thighs are good for flavouring the rice. Although we don’t claim that our bbq paella is authentically Spanish, we hope that it is close enough for you to appreciate the Spanish national dish from the comfort of your own sunny garden (no travel or passport required).
1 x splash of olive oil
600g chicken breast strips
80g chorizo – sliced into bite-sized pieces.
2 x small onions (diced)
1 x fresh pepper (diced)
3 x garlic cloves (crushed)
2 x teaspoon of chilli flakes or 1 fresh chilli (diced)
5 mushrooms (chopped)
2 tablespoons of frozen sweetcorn
Generous sprinkling of Paella seasoning mix ( saffron, paprika, garlic, pepper)
3 x ½ cups of paella rice
9 x ½ cups of chicken stock (Homemade stock is best, but a cube will do)
Spare stock for hydrating the dish during cooking if necessary. (Ratio of rice to stock is roughly 1:3, but always best to have extra liquid on hand to adjust the recipe if required).
- Prepare the bbq, by placing 4 house bricks in the bottom to create a cooking area to place you paella pan on. Light the bbq and wait for the coals to turn white. Space the coals evenly between the bricks and place the pan over the heat.
- Coat the pan in olive oil, then sear the chicken until golden brown.
- Add the onions, peppers, garlic, chilli, mushrooms and sweetcorn. Continue to stir until the vegetables are softened.
- Add the chorizo and spice mix. Ensure all the chicken is covered. The saffron in the mix should turn the ingredients slightly yellow.
- Stir the pan and then add the paella rice. After a minute or so add the stock. Once the rice and stock are added, you should not stir your paella. This is to prevent the starch from leaching out of the rice and making the dish soggy. Do not worry if you think the rice is burning to the bottom of the pan – it is supposed to have a crispy base. In Spain the caramalised base is often the most sort after part of the paella. Just use your bbq grill to raise the dish further from the flame if you think the heat is excessive.
- If you wish, you can cover the dish with foil. This helps speed the cooking process and prevents moisture escaping. We did not cover ours, as we are trying to avoid using single-use items like foil and cling film in the kitchen for environmental reasons. This was not a problem for this recipe, but we did need to top up our stock levels halfway through the cooking process to prevent the paella drying out.
- In the kitchen, when cooked on cast-iron, this dish is ready in about 40 minutes. On the bbq we did not worry too much about time and tried to be patient with the low and slow method. We judged the paella to be ready by having a taste every 10 minutes or so. The rice should be cooked and the flavours mingled well.
- Serve up the paella in bowls by ensuring each person gets are spoonful of the paella from different points in the pan. The paella from the bottom and sides of the pan will be crispy, which is a good contrast to the creamy, soft consistency of the rice from the centre of the dish.
- Enjoy! (Sangria accompaniment optional)
Improvements or Improvisations:
As stated above, this dish would be suitable for experimentation with different meats or seafood. Fatty meats work well, so boneless chicken thighs are a good substitute for chicken breast strips. You can also use cheaper cuts like chicken drumsticks and thighs, which will flavour the rice well if you don’t mind eating meat on the bone. We have heard that Rabbit is a traditionally popular ingredient in Spanish paella, but we are yet to try this meat for this particular dish.
This recipe is good for substituting fresh for frozen if you do not have fresh produce available. The peppers, mushrooms, onions and any other preferred vegetable can be added frozen straight to the pan. Peas and green beans can be added too if you want to bulk up on your 5-a-day.
We were lucky enough to have an authentic Spanish Paella mix for this recipe, that a friend kindly brought home from their holidays earlier this year. Most supermarkets will sell a specific spice mix for paella, but I have listed the ingredients of our ‘Especial Paella’ above, incase anyone would like to have a go at creating their own.