¼ cup olive oil
Spanish chorizo, cut into ½-inch discs (Andouille sausage is a good substitute)
4 boneless, skinless chicken thighs, cut into 1-inch pieces
2 teaspoons kosher salt, divided
½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, divided
1 large onion, diced
1 large carrot, peeled and diced
1 red bell pepper, diced
4 cloves garlic, minced
2 Tablespoons tomato paste
1 teaspoon smoked paprika
1 teaspoon saffron threads (about 2 pinches)
¼ cup chopped fresh parsley, divided (or carrot tops or chives)
2 cups Bomba rice or Calasparra rice
5 cups chicken broth or vegetable stock
8-12 ounces prawns or jumbo shrimp, peeled and deveined, tails on
8-12 ounce cleaned mussels, beards removed (optional)
½ cup frozen peas
Lemon wedges, for serving
Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium to medium-high heat. Brown the chorizo on both sides for 2-3 minutes per side. Remove with a slotted spoon and set aside.
Add onion, carrot, bell pepper, and garlic and sauté for 5-7 minutes until the onion is translucent. Add tomato paste and stir well, cooking for 1 minute. Add paprika, saffron, and season with 1 teaspoon salt & ¼ teaspoon pepper. Continue to cook and stir for 5 minutes.
Season chicken thigh pieces with remaining 1 teaspoon kosher salt and ¼ teaspoon pepper. Add chicken and rice to the pan with the vegetables and oil. Return the chorizo to the pan. Cook and stir for 1 minute. The chicken will not be cooked through and that's okay.
Add rice to the meat and veggies. Stir well to coat each of the rice grains in seasonings and oil from the pan.
Slowly pour the broth around the pan. Give the pan a shake to settle the rice grains but do not stir from this point onwards. You want a crusty layer of rice to form on the bottom of the pan. This is called the socarrat and it is key to a really good paella. Stirring not only prevents the crust from forming but it also results in mushy rice, which is not what you want in this dish.
Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to medium-low. Cook uncovered for 15-18 minutes, giving the pan a shake once or twice during the cooking process, but do not stir. If it sounds like the paella is drying out before the rice has cooked through, you can add a splash of extra liquid or reduce the heat a little more.
Add any seafood like shrimp, mussels, clams, or calamari at this point, if using, and sprinkle the peas on top. You can nestle the seafood down into the rice a bit. Whether you are adding seafood or not, continue to cook the paella uncovered for 5 more minutes until done (about 20 to 23 minutes total time after adding the liquid to the rice). The liquid should be mostly absorbed and the rice should be tender.
Remove the paella from the heat and let it rest for 10 minutes. Sprinkle with fresh parsley and serve with lemon slices.