Here’s how to make the perfect paella this summer

Paella is delicious, companionable and perfect for a summer dinner party — but it's tricky to make. So we asked a top restaurant exactly how to get it right...

What do you think of, when you think of paella? Long, balmy evenings in a Spanish square, with the wine flowing and an enormous bowl of paella in the middle of the table? Delectable shrimp, prawn and mussels? Chicken and squid coalescing in one exquisite dish, in a bed of saffron-perfumed rice? Or perhaps it just conjures up memories of laughter, jollity and companionship; of coming together with friends and family, over one shared dish.

Paella is a remarkable recipe; not least because of the sheer amount of ingredients it can hold. Can you think of any other dish that includes so many variations of shellfish — to say nothing of the chicken — and an abundance of spices, whilst still tasting good? Then there’s its companionable element; paella will often be found listed in menus as ‘to share between two’, or some such phrasing. It brings us together in a way that singular, individual meals can’t. There’s something uniquely intimate about sharing a dish with another person — and paella excels in this regard.

And then there’s the undeniable fact that paella is one of the great dishes of summer. It exudes summer. Possibly that’s down to its Spanish origins; perhaps it’s to do with the amount of seasonal ingredients it can hold. Either way, paella is a summer dish, if ever there was one. But for all its summery connotations, it’s not an easy dish to make at any time. It’s fiddly, time-consuming and requires a considerable amount of attention. Which is why we’re so thrilled that the wonderful folk over at 100 Wardour Street have kindly shared their phenomenal recipe with us.

This truly is the recipe for a summer dinner party; it serves a mind-boggling eight people, so it’s got ‘celebratory dinner’ written all over it. But don’t fret; eight people sounds like a lot, but everything you need to know is in this recipe. Read and learn, gents; and then get cooking. And if, when it gets to the big night, tensions are running high in the kitchen — just think of that moment when you walk out onto the terrace (or wherever your lucky guests are eating), paella held triumphantly aloft as you reap in those cheers and applause that are bound to greet your culinary efforts.

Serves 8

Ingredients:

  • 1kg bomba paella rice
  • 50g extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 white onions, finely chopped
  • 8 cloves of garlic minced
  • large pinch of saffron threads
  • 250g chopped cherry tomatoes on the vine 
  • 10g smoked sweet paprika 
  • 50g Maldon sea salt
  • 1/2 bunch chopped parsley
  • 1 lemon
  • 4 litres of brown chicken/shellfish stock
  • 12 prawns, size 8-12
  • 200g mussels
  • 200g baby squid
  • 200g chicken thighs (boneless), diced

For the shellfish broth (stock):

  • 6 litres of water
  • 200g roasted prawn shells
  • 200g roasted lobster shells
  • 2kg roasted chicken bones
  • 3 onions
  • 1 bunch of celery
  • parsley stems
  • fennel tops
  • 3g Pimento (all spice)

Method:

  1. 18-20 minutes to cook paella from start to finish.  
  2. Heat your flat paella pan over a medium heat, and add the olive oil, onions and garlic. Fry for 3 minutes. 
  3. Then add the paprika, sea salt and rice. Stir for 1 minute, and then add the tomatoes, saffron and ½ of the stock. 
  4. Continue to cook for 15 minutes, adding more stock if needed. In the last 5 minutes, add the mussels, prawns and squid, pushing them into the rice. 
  5. Cook slowly for the last 5 minutes, adding small amounts of stock, if needed. 
  6. Garnish with chopped parsley and a squeeze of lemon.

Method for the shellfish broth (stock):

  1. Roast all bones and shellfish shells in an oven at 180 degrees, until brown. 
  2. Add to a stock pot with all the veg roughly chopped, and simmer for at least 3 hours.

Looking for more dishes to dazzle your guests? Here’s our gentleman’s guide to making the perfect cooked breakfast

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