Ben Bayly’s authentic paella recipe is the perfect summer crowd-pleaser

Following his pilgrimage to the culinary mecca of Catalonia thanks to Estrella Damm, acclaimed chef Ben Bayly presents a bona fide rendition of the Spanish region’s national dish, Paella. Bayly explains, “the technique is similar to risotto, although there are a few key ingredients that keep it authentic: the saffron, the smoked paprika and a proper short grain rice. It’s the ultimate surf and turf”.

1⁄2kg of Calasparra or Bomba rice (
1kg spicy smoked chorizo (
2L of light stock (see instructions below)
2 onions (chopped)
4 cloves of garlic (crushed) 2 red capsicum (diced)
A small punnet of cherry tomatoes
100ml light olive oil
1tsp Smoked paprika
1 heaped teaspoon of Saffron strands
Diced/chopped chicken thighs or rabbit
1kg mussels
1kg prawns
1kg pipis
500g squid (cut into 3x3cm squares and marinated in 4tbsp of olive oil and juice of 1 lemon) A selection of spring veggies (green beans and peas if available)
A good handful of roughly chopped Italian parsley

The first thing you’ll need to do is make a nice, homemade stock. To do this, cover your base flavour (fish bones/shellfish/crayfish/prawn heads, chicken carcass) with water, add your choice of vegetables and simmer for two hours.

Start by getting your paella pan really hot and coat it with a fair amount of olive oil. Throw in the thinly sliced chorizo and fry it until the oil turns red (the chorizo has chilli and all sorts of flavoursome goodness in
it that will render out into the oil, giving it its depth and red colour). Take the chorizo out of the pan and set aside.

Then add your white meat to the pan. Cook it until it’s seared on the outside but still rare in the middle and place it aside with the chorizo. By now your oil is going to be beautifully flavoursome thanks to the spices and white meat
juices rendered.

In this oil, add cherry tomatoes (you can use chopped fresh or canned). These must caramelise so don’t put too many in at once. The skin should bubble and pop. Now add the saffron and smoked paprika followed by the onions, garlic and peeled red capsicum. Now you’ll be building a three-dimensional flavour profile.

From here, add the rice into the pan with the tomatoes et al. Coat the rice in the oil and juices before adding two-thirds of the stock and bring to a simmer. Now, it’s very important not to stir because you want a crust to start building at the bottom of the pan (known as the socarrat). Once most of the stock has been absorbed, here’s where the ultimate paella is achieved by cooking everything perfectly.

Add your white meat back in, followed a few minutes later by the chorizo, then your seafood according to how long each takes to cook. Mussels take quite a while so throw them in first. When they start to open, add the pipis followed by the squid then the prawns. From here, throw the last bit of your stock in and leave it for 20 minutes.

Season accordingly and prepare your spring vegetables for a garnish. The classic garnish depends on the season, but usually the Spanish add beans. Blanch your greens in hot water for a minute or so before seasoning and throwing over top of the now-ready paella. Add parsley and any other fresh herbs that take your fancy, finish with a squeeze of lemon, season to taste, then gather the troops and enjoy!

Click here to purchase your paella starter kit


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