Posted in Top Chef

Chicken and Seafood Paella. Recipe Review & saffron substitute!

Paella. A gift from God. Seriously, it’s just so damn mouth-watering! I’ve always wanted to try making this dish but was too chicken! Then I found this super easy recipe by Joanna Cismaru. You can check it out here on her site.

I made it twice in the last week and got great reviews! There are things I want to improve before I can say that I’ve “perfected” the dish.

Here is a picture of the paella from the first time I made where I used saffron. I was so worried that there was so much liquid left! I honestly thought it was a fail. But once I mixed everything up, IT WAS PERFECT!


As amazing as it was to have saffron, it was a bit too expensive for my taste. $17.99 FOR 1/8 OF AN TSP!! The second time I made it, I decided to look for a saffron substitute. It worked out great! I will include a recipe at the end of the post. They were out of clams at the store (major bummer!) so I decided to substitute with octopus instead. I honestly thought it was squid but hey, it worked out! Next time, I think I’ll use squid rings instead and see how that turns out.

Again, there was so much liquid! I think next time, I will try to do a better job of mixing the rice before I arrange the seafood.


And finally, here is the awesome recipe from the Jo Cooks and my notes in parenthesis. Good luck & I hope you enjoy making this yummy dish as much as I did!


chicken and seafood paella
Prep time: 10 mins
(For us noobs, prep time will be about 30 mins.)
Cook time: 50 mins
Total time: 1 hour
(Because I am a clutz, I usually give myself 2 hours.)
Chicken and Seafood Paella – a classic Spanish rice dish made with Arborio rice, packed with chicken, sausage, mussels, clams and shrimp and loaded with flavor.
Author: Joanna Cismaru
Serves: 8
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 4 chicken thighs, boneless and skinless cut into 1 inch pieces
    • (I used 6 chicken thighs cuz I eat a lot.)
  • 2 chorizo sausages, cut into 1 inch pieces (I used Italian sausages)
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 6 garlic cloves, minced
    • (I LOVE garlic so I used almost double this amount.)
  • 1½ cups arborio rice*
    • (I used the whole damn bag.)
  • 1 can (14 oz or 398 mL) diced fire roasted tomatoes
  • 4 cups vegetable or chicken broth
    • (Low sodium chicken broth worked great!)
  • 1 tbsp hot sauce such as Tabasco or Sriracha
    • (If your guests can’t handle the spice, have hot sauce on the side instead.)
  • 2 tsp smoked paprika
  • 1 tsp saffron
    • (SAFFRON SUBSTITUTE: 1/4 tsp turmeric + 1/2 tsp paprika)
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 lb large shrimp, shelled and deveined but keep tails on
  • 1 lb clams, scrubbed and soaked
  • 1 lb mussels, scrubbed and soaked
    • (Mussels w/ shell = 1 lbs. frozen mussels no shell  = 2lbs)
    • (I honestly think you can use any seafood you want.)
  • fresh parsley for garnish
    • (Might be because I’m Vietnamese but swapping this out for cilantro next time!)
  • 1 lemon cut into lemon wedges
    • (I highly recommend squeezing lemon juice over the top before serving. It gives the dish a nice balance to a heavy dish.)
  1. In a large paella pan heat the olive oil over medium heat. (I don’t know what medium heat is. My knob was in the 7-8 range.)Add the chicken and sausage, season with salt and pepper, then cook for about 5 minutes until the chicken is no longer pink.
  2. Move the chicken and sausage to one side of the pan, then add the onion to the other half, season with a bit of salt and pepper and cook for 2 minutes until the onion becomes translucent and soft. Add the garlic and cook for another minute.
  3. Add the arborio and fire roasted tomatoes to the pan and stir well. Let the rice cook in the sauce from the tomatoes for about 5 minutes, you will notice it will start to brown on the bottom, which is what you’re looking for. Add the broth, hot sauce, smoked paprika, saffron and season with salt and pepper if needed. Stir everything together and cover with a large lid. Cook for about 15 minutes or until most of the liquid has been absorbed by the rice. The rice will not be cooked through at this time.
  4. Turn down the heat (I messed up and went down to 2. Shrimp took too long to cook and my rice was softer than I wanted. I really should have had the heat at 6) and stir the rice around a bit, you will notice the crust on the bottom of the pan, that’s what you’re looking for. Arrange the shrimp, mussels and clams over the rice, cover with a lid again and cook for another 10 minutes or until the mussels and clams open up.
  5. Turn off the heat and garnish with parsley and lemon wedges.
  6. (Squeeze a bit of lemon juice over the rice before serving. Or, have lemon wedges fror your guests to do it themselves.)

*Arborio rice is an Italian short-grain rice.

I used vegetable broth here, that’s why the color of the broth is so rich and dark, if you use chicken broth it will be a lot lighter in color.

If you don’t have a paella pan, a large skillet will work just as well.

nutrition information
Serving size: ⅛ of recipe Calories: 437 Fat: 13.0g Saturated fat: 3.6g Unsaturated fat: 0.0g Trans fat: 0.0g Carbohydrates: 47.8g Sugar: 6.2g Sodium: 1224mg Fiber: 2.5g Protein: 30.7gCholesterol: 125mg


This recipie is @Gibbs The Pug approved!