Cuban-Style Paella

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Prep Time: 90 minutes
Cook Time: 50 minutes
Servings: 4 to 6

The trick to making the perfect paella is using the right type of rice and the correct pan. Use a good-quality long-grain white rice or imported Spanish short-grain rice. The pan should be wide and shallow, with sloping sides. If you don’t have a specialty paella pan, a large, shallow ovenproof frying pan will do.


  • 1/2 cup (4 fl. oz./125 ml) dry white wine
  • 1 tsp. saffron threads
  • 3 Tbs. olive oil
  • 8 chicken wing drumettes
  • Salt
  • 1 white onion, chopped
  • 1/2 red bell pepper, seeded and chopped
  • 1 tsp. dried oregano
  • 1 tsp. ground cumin
  • 2 plum tomatoes, chopped
  • 1/2 tsp. red pepper flakes
  • 1/2 tsp. sweet Spanish paprika
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 1/2 cups (10 1/2 oz./330 g) long-grain white rice
  • 2 1/2 cups (20 fl. oz./625 ml) chicken broth
  • 3/4 cup (3 oz./90 g) thinly sliced cured Spanish-style chorizo
  • 4 large garlic cloves, minced
  • 8 medium shrimp, peeled and deveined, with tails intact
  • 1 large lobster tail, about 1 lb. (500 g), shell removed, cut into 1-inch (2.5-cm) chunks
  • 4 large sea scallops, halved crosswise
  • 8 jarred sliced red pimiento, drained and chopped
  • 1 lemon, cut into 8 wedges


In a small saucepan, gently warm the wine (do not let it boil). Add the saffron and remove from the heat. Let steep for 1 hour.

Position a rack in the lower third of an oven and preheat to 350°F (180°C). In a large ovenproof pan over medium-high heat, warm 1 Tbs. of the oil. Add the chicken and sear, turning as needed, until golden brown on all sides, about 10 minutes. Sprinkle with 1/4 tsp. salt and transfer to a plate. Reduce the heat to medium.

Add the onion and bell pepper to the pan and cook, stirring frequently, until softened, about 2 minutes. Crumble the oregano over the onion mixture, then stir in the cumin, tomatoes, red pepper flakes, paprika and bay leaf. Sauté until the spices are fragrant and most of the liquid has evaporated, about 5 minutes. Transfer the mixture to a bowl.

Add 1 Tbs. of the oil to the pan and set over medium heat. Add the rice and sauté until golden, 3 to 5 minutes. Stir in 1 cup (8 oz./250 g) of the onion mixture and sauté for 30 seconds. Add the reserved wine and the broth and stir to mix well. Arrange the chicken on top of the rice. Bake, uncovered, for 15 minutes.

Remove the paella from the oven. In a large fry pan, warm the remaining 1 Tbs. oil over medium-high heat. Add the chorizo and garlic and sauté until the oil turns reddish. Add the shrimp, lobster and scallops and cook, stirring, until the seafood is almost opaque throughout, 3 to 4 minutes. Stir in the remaining onion mixture.

Remove the chicken from the paella and set aside on a plate. Stir the seafood mixture gently into the rice. Discard the bay leaf. Arrange the chicken on top, fitting it between the lobster pieces. Sprinkle the;pimiento over all.

Return the paella to the oven and bake until all the liquid has been absorbed, about 5 minutes. Remove from the oven and cover with a clean kitchen towel. Let stand at room temperature for at least 10 minutes or up to 30 minutes before serving. Serve with the lemon wedges. Serves 4 to 6.

Adapted from Williams-Sonoma Soup of the Day, by Kate McMillan (Weldon Owen, 2011)

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