Chicken Paella


My First Paella in Valencia is a cooking school for people to come and enjoy an authentic paella. Here Josè and his team show you how paella should be cooked. Inspired by my travels to Valencia, I returned home excited and enthusiastic to recreate the food memory in my own home. You can read about my amazing experience and deep dive into paella here.

An authentic Valencian Paella consists of chicken, rabbit and snails. I have shared my interpretation of my experience in my chicken paella recipe below. I hope you enjoy making it as much as I enjoyed learning about it and how I learnt to adapt it to the ingredients we have available her in South Africa. I urge you to read up in my deep dive about the differences in rice from around the world. The backbone of Paella is rice so it is essential to get the right rice for this job. Whatever you do, do not use arborio rice as it is too sticky and does not give you that drier texture that is vital for a great paella.


Serves 2

Chicken Paella

Servings 2 people


  • 1/3 cup olive oil
  • 2x chicken legs
  • 2x chicken wings
  • 2 x chicken thighs All with bone in weighing about 450-500g. If you do decide you’d prefer boneless I suggest thighs are the best option, but make sure to use stock not water for more flavour
  • 150 g Chinese green beans or regular green beans I found them at the Chinese supermarket in Beacon Bay
  • 3 garlic cloves
  • 8-12 Safron strands plus 1 cup hot water
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp sweet paprika
  • 1 tsp smoked paprika
  • 1 tsp ñora flakes or sweet paprika flakes
  • 3 Roma tomatoes grated
  • 150 g butter beans

150g 3 800ml water200g (

  • 3 long sprigs fresh rosemary
  • 800 ml water
  • 200 g bomba rice I used Bonnet Rice from Tastic do not rinse or follow the cooking instructions on the packet for this paella recipe


  • Get all your ingredients prepared and organised in recipe order. Place the paella pan on the gas stove. I have a wok griddle that I attach to my biggest gas burner that elevates the pan off the gas. This was necessary to ensure the pan didn’t sit flat on the flame and snuff it out. Add the oil to the pan in concentric circles starting on the outside edge of the pan working towards the center
  • Heat until hot then add the chicken pierces and caramelise them on all sides until golden brown. Season with salt. Turn as often as you need to ensure they don’t burn. Move them to the outer sides of the pan. A true paella pan has a slight indent in the centre where the oil pools which is a perfect place to ensure high heat. My flat Cadac wannabe paella pan didn’t have this so I improvised and moved the chicken around the entire pan
  • Get a good golden colour on the chicken, turning as often as necessary
  • While the chicken is cooking get on and prepare the saffron. Boil the kettle for about 1 cup of water. Place the saffron threads in a mortar and pestle with a tsp of salt.
  • Grind the threads into the salt until the threads have disappeared and the salt turns a golden pinky-orange colour.
  • Scoop out a tbl or two of the cooking oil from the paella pan where the chicken has cooked and add that to the saffron salt. Mix it In properly and then add the hot water. Set aside until ready to add to the paella. This tip is the best tip that José My First Paella gave me. Thanks go to him entirely! With regards to seasoning, everyone has varying tastes and tolerances for salt. In the class, José encouraged us to season after each ingredient was added to the pan. I’m going to leave that up to you how you’d like to season your food
  • Move the chicken to the outskirts of the paella and add the green bean cut into 3-4cm peices. Fry until the skin blisters, turning as you go
  • Add the garlic and stir for 30 seconds. At this stage you need to add the paprikas and ñora flakes, but I added the tomatoes instead and just added the aromatics afterward
  • here is added the aromatics, stir to cook for about a minute or two then add the butter beans, again stirring to coat all the ingredients in the aromatics
  • Now add the saffron stock and stir to ensure the flavour mingles.
  • Now add the water and get it up to a gentle simmering heat
  • Add the rosemary and stir to move the flavour through the stock while getting the heat up
  • Drizzle in the rice in concentric circles starting on the periphery and working towards the centre. I need to practice this a bit more, didn't quiet master it and landed up pouring it in in bursts, whists trying to take photos at the same time. Once the rice goes into the paella you NEVER stir the pan, you only shake it
  • Shaking the pan helps the oil and flavours rise to the top of the pan. It also stops the rice from sticking to the base while it's still in the process of absorbing all the lovely flavours. The trick here is to balance the amount of liquid evaporating too fast with the time it takes for the rice to cook and absorb all the flavours. You need a gentle and steady simmer not a rapid evaporation. It should take about 15-20 minutes. You will need to taste for the seasoning too to ensure its to your palate. Check the rice is also cooked to your satisfaction
  • Once the liquid has evaporated, you can start to listen out for the socarrat forming on the bottom of the pan. Here you need the rice to cook to a crunchy texture without burning it. Listen for the crackling sound to help guide you through the process. It will be slightly more deeper golden in colour than the rice on the top. Turn the pan off and let the paella rest for 5-10 minutes. Serve with a tomato and caper salad drizzled in Spanish olive oil.
  • You can eat directly out of the pan with wooden spoons or you can serve into bowls and enjoy a couple of helpings through the evening between chatting and enjoying a nice glass of wine.
Course: Dinner
Cuisine: Spanish
Keyword: Chicken paella, paella

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