Moorish Paella

By • October 21, 2010 • 75 Comments

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Author Notes: I love paella because it is a little more hearty and cozy than a lot of pasta dishes but just as versatile--you can pretty much fill the dish with whatever you have on hand. I came up with this recipe after a dinner party left me with a few lamb sausages, lots of spices and half a can of harissa I did not want to waste. - NWBNWB

Food52 Review: The fun of paella is that it's a dish whose flavor you have to build, phase by phase, as you layer ingredients into the paella pan. You can see the dish darkening and intensifying as you move through the steps. In NWB's Moorish Paella you blend a spice mixture of caraway, smoked and sweet paprikas, and cumin, and add it a spoonful at a time so the heat and flavor magnify, and by the end you have a dish that reminds us in its burly spirit of jambalaya. - A&MA&M

Serves 4

  • 4 bone-in skin on chicken thighs
  • 4 small or two large links of Merguez sausage (chorizo is fine if you can't find the lamb sausage)
  • 1/2 head of cauliflower cut into pieces
  • 1 teaspoon caraway, ground
  • 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • 1/2 teaspoon cumin
  • 1 tablespoon harissa
  • 2 cups Arborio (or other short grain) rice
  • 8 ounces tomato sauce
  • 3 cups chicken stock
  • Salt to taste
  • 1 small onion, diced
  • 1 garlic clove, diced
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 cup dry wine (I used a rose)
  1. In the morning place the chicken thighs in a plastic bag or bowl with a generous amount of salt to brine in fridge all day or at least 1 hour. Mix ground spices together in bowl with pinch of salt.
  2. Cut sausage into discs and brown on each side in pan. You can leave them in links to brown as well, I prefer to cut them before cooking. Remove sausage onto paper towel lined plate and let cool. Leave fat in pan. Turn off heat if you need a few minutes to prepare next step.
  3. Remove chicken from refrigerator and pat dry. Use the sausage fat and add olive oil if you need more. Over medium-high heat brown chicken skin side down for 3-5 minutes or until rich brown, turn over and brown for 2 more minutes. Remove chicken to plate with sausage.
  4. Add olive oil as needed and onion to pan and cook about 3 minutes. Add dash of salt and a spoonful of the spice mixture. Add garlic and cook for 1 minute. Add cauliflower and cook for 5 minutes. Add more of the spice mixture.
  5. Add wine and scrape bottom of pan for any bits. Cook for a couple of minutes. Add sausage and harissa and stir until harissa is well incorporated. Add tomato puree and cook for 5 minutes. Add more spice mixture.
  6. Add rice and distribute evenly across the pan. Add chicken. Add chicken stock. Add the rest of the spice mixture and season with salt. Bring to a boil and reduce to a simmer. Cook until rice is cooked through--I find this varies depending on the stove top--20-30 minutes. You can cover the pan if it is taking too long to cook. After it is done cooking let sit off the heat for 2-4 minutes. Serve.
Jump to Comments (75)

Comments (75) Questions (6)

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about 1 month ago pratchford

I'm always a bit nervous serving guests something I haven't made before but turned out perfectly! he only thing I changes was I used 2 legs and 1 whole breast quartered.
Big hit.

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4 months ago Andrea Meehan

So good! A couple of extra bits of chicken and it would feed six easily. I love the cauliflower masquerading as rice!

Wrong_apple

6 months ago sevenfaces

This makes so much rice! A couple more chicken thighs and I'd definitely say it feeds 6. I really liked the sound of the flavour combo so I almost doubled the amount of spice and tomatoes, reducing the amount of chicken stock accordingly. I always rinse my rice thoroughly as I can't stand a gluggy paella, so the texture turned out perfectly. Served with rocket on top and grilled corn and zucchini on the side for a well-balanced meal. Thanks for sharing this recipe :)

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10 months ago ElleM

I would suggest, depending on party size, that you slightly reduce the rice, and thus chicken stock accordingly. I made this tonight, improvising with a tablespoon of 'Hot' chilli seasoning and a concoction of peppers + spice mixture from recipe. It was interesting, not bad actually, but it was just bleh. I just kept noticing how much rice there was, 2 large containers worth after dinner was put away. I think that my rice swelled, as I did notice a lot of stock in my pan initially, but it was perfectly cooked through. The dinner was made for two, intending on having leftovers, but now I think we may be able to stretch the rice into a side dish for steaks, or include steak chunks for lunches at work. Possibilities are endless; tastes like Spanish rice

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12 months ago Maria Lourdes Levy Ross

Me gustaria que llevara aceitunas. Es tipico en las Paellas. Gracias por estas recetas maravillosas.

Stringio

over 1 year ago adele93

i ended up just following the recipe, worked well though i was expecting a "deeper" flavour, i found the rice just tasted like the chicken stock and there was a spicy undertone - is this how its meant to be?

Stringio

over 1 year ago adele93

I've been asked to make this for 5 adults and i am wondering how the spices should be altered to ensure there is no loss of flavour. i am gonig ot increase the chicken to 7 thighs

Stringio

over 1 year ago adele93

and the rice to 500g along with the stock - any ideas

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almost 2 years ago ingefaer

This smells heavenly cooking on the stove. Have not started dinner yet. One thing I find, the amount of liquid to the amount of rice does not seem to be enough - I had to add a lot more stock.

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almost 2 years ago Alan Divack

This is a brilliant variation, and kosher too. Can't wait to try it. To answer Musebe below, Ihave made paellas in large roasting pan. The importnat thing is that it be large and not deep so that the liquid concentrates rapidely and the rice doesn't get mushy. I use a similar technique in my kosher jamabalaya variation. So many jambalaya's are super mushy, but this one had firm rice like a good paella : http://alandivack.blogspot... . You can always treyf it up with seafood (don't overcook0 hama nd pork sausage if you want.

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about 2 years ago Musebe

Paella not polenta lol

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about 2 years ago Musebe

Is a polenta pan really needed for this dish?

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about 2 years ago Dtown Boy

I looked at this recipe a couple times, I finally made it and it was excellent!!! it's a keeper!!!!

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over 2 years ago darksideofthespoon

This is a weekly staple at home now! It's amazing, tonight we don't have chicken thighs so we're making it with tons of sausage and prawns... I even made my own Harissa to use, very excited to see how it turns out - I'm sure it'll be stunning!

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about 1 year ago FERNANDA

i WANT TO TRY THIS TONIGHT but WHAT IF HARISSA ' could you explain as i am not familiar with it...

Poppy_bone

over 2 years ago NWB

So glad your family liked it!

Burnt_offering

over 2 years ago Burnt Offerings

Oooo - I have leftover harris a from catering a party last weekend. Will pick up some merguez at the market with a head of cauliflower. Everything else is in the pantry / freezer. Can't wait!

Poppy_bone

over 2 years ago NWB

Hope you like it!

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over 2 years ago student epicure

i made this with my mom for a family dinner saturday night and it was a huge hit! ours turned out quite spicy, which my family loved, but might have been too much for someone with a different palate -- maybe it was the harissa we used? loved the addition of caraway!

we tripled the chicken and used skinless, boneless thighs, which was great with the leftover rice! i don't think the brining added much. next time, i will add even more cauliflower too.

so delicious! looking forward to making it again!

Wwrake_lrcrpd

over 2 years ago fuhsi

Have made this 5 times since trying it as our first paella in November. After first time, poured off the fat after the sausages cooked, and more recently swapped out the sausage for turkey sausage, but otherwise, perfect in every way. Texture, flavor, portion, ease of cooking- an A+! Thank you!

Poppy_bone

over 2 years ago NWB

Thank you! I'm so glad you like it!

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almost 3 years ago phzs

Thanks for a recipe which does not contain anything fishy.

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almost 3 years ago tatiana131

I made this last night, with a couple of subs - instead of harissa I had to make do with hot pepper flakes, red wine instead of white, and diluted tomato paste instead of sauce, and it was fabulous. Next time I'd increase the garlic manyfold, and reduce smoked paprika by a tiny bit, 25% or so. Really great, comforting meal, and excellent left overs the next day.

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almost 3 years ago Fanta

I cooked this this evening and it was delicious. I didn't have any caraway though so I used fennel seeds instead (also in the harissa which I made from the recipe on this website). I'd never brined anything before, so I just put the chicken in a bag with quite salty water, but I don't think it really made much of a difference except that it made the oil spit a lot more than usual.

A very satisfying meal on an autumn night, good work!

Tea_guy

about 3 years ago Tamio888

Really terrific! I found this by looking for a cauliflower recipe, but had a friend who can't have gluten, sugar, and a bunch of other stuff. Used a wet brine of sea salt, water, bay leaf, juniper berries, allspice and peppercorns. No wine (avoiding the sugar issue for my guest), but, extra broth and tomatoes.

By 'smoked paprika' do you mean agridulce? I used equal parts agridulce and dulce and it turned out great.

A real winner. Best paella I can recall making. Do my girls know their stuff, or, what?

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almost 4 years ago DanaD

I finally made this and put in some shrimp. They were great with the recipe! I used a paella pan for the first time and since we have an electric stove we put it on the gas grill outside. The smoky flavor the paella pick up was great. Fabulous recipe!

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almost 4 years ago ashleychasesdinner

Congratulations!! I can't wait to try.

Poppy_bone

almost 4 years ago NWB

Thanks!

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almost 4 years ago Culinista Annouchka

Just made this on Saturday night and it was a big hit! A great all-in-1 dish!

Poppy_bone

almost 4 years ago NWB

I'm glad you liked it!

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almost 4 years ago Texas Ex

What a great dish. The flavors were indeed layered and complex. I had to use andouille as I could not get merguez (or chorizo for that matter). It suited the dish perfectly.
Thanks!

Poppy_bone

almost 4 years ago NWB

Great! Glad to hear it worked well with andouille.

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almost 4 years ago DanaD

I'm planning to make this when my in-laws visit. Since I won't make it before then to try, I'm wondering if you think there's a type of seafood that would go well with the flavors or if it's best without.

Poppy_bone

almost 4 years ago NWB

Maybe shrimp? I haven't made it with seafood. Let me know how it turns out.

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almost 4 years ago TheWimpyVegetarian

This looks absolutely delicious! I'm looking forward to making this one!

Poppy_bone

almost 4 years ago NWB

Thanks! Hope you like it!

Halloween

almost 4 years ago iuzzini

Mmm! I made this over the weekend and served it at a birthday gathering-- everyone loved it! Congrats on your win! :)

Poppy_bone

almost 4 years ago NWB

Thank you! I'm so glad to hear it was a success at your party!

Poppy_bone

almost 4 years ago NWB

Thanks again everyone! I look forward to hearing how the paella turns out for you.

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almost 4 years ago fortheloveofyum

many congrats! :)

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almost 4 years ago foodfighter

Well done!

Poppy_bone

almost 4 years ago NWB

Thanks everyone!

Cakes

almost 4 years ago Bevi

Congrats!

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almost 4 years ago gingerroot

Congratulations!

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almost 4 years ago cheese1227

Excellent! I love this one.

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almost 4 years ago TiggyBee

Big congrats on your winning paella!!

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almost 4 years ago drbabs

Barbara is a trusted source on General Cooking.

Congratulations!

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almost 4 years ago dymnyno

Congratulations on winning!

Mrs._larkin_370

almost 4 years ago mrslarkin

Mrs. Larkin is a trusted source on Baking.

Congrats on the win, NWB!!!!

Dscf2141

almost 4 years ago foodfighter

http://www.blackboardeats... has a deal for www.tienda.com paella kits (30% off)

Poppy_bone

almost 4 years ago NWB

I love www.blackboardeats.com. Such a great website! Thanks!

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over 3 years ago Spanishfoodie

I get my authentic Spanish Paella ingredients at the best prices at http://www.rapososgourmet... aka http://www.spainbestforless... or check out their Amazon storefront with 99% rating!!!

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almost 4 years ago allie

NWB, Have you ever doubled this? If so, what kind of pan do you make it in? Looks wonderful.

Poppy_bone

almost 4 years ago NWB

To double the recipe I would use two pans because I don't have a big paella pan, but if you have a paella pan that serves 6-8 it would certainly work. Hope you enjoy it!

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almost 4 years ago Jeanette's Healthy Living

I love paella, and happen to have some harissa in my fridge, so will have to try this, although I will leave out the sausage and perhaps a little bit more smoked paprika.

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almost 4 years ago boulangere

Cynthia is a trusted source on Bread/Baking.

This looks like a wonderful fall dinner, and I'll try it this week. I'm not a sausage person, but I have some pancetta that I'll substitute. Thank you!

Poppy_bone

almost 4 years ago NWB

Thanks again for the nice words!

This dish is great for a dinner party because you can have a glass of wine and spend time with your guests, instead of slaving away in the kitchen, while it cooks. It would be definitely be fun for a holiday, especially because it looks so nice on the table!

You should be able to find harissa at any upscale market--the Whole Foods in my neighborhood has it.

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almost 4 years ago Waverly

I like KKW's idea to serve this for Christmas Eve. Deep, rustic, flavors, a little heat, lots of family and friends - this would be perfect. Congratulations on being a finalist. Your recipe sounds great!

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almost 4 years ago Hungry in Hoboken

I'm going to try and find some harissa tomorrow. This dish sounds delicious!

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almost 4 years ago KKW

Conratulations! This is very exciting.

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almost 4 years ago KKW

I meant congratulations. Sounds like this would be a great Christmas Eve dinner to enjoy with your closest friends.

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almost 4 years ago ashleychasesdinner

Congratulations on being a finalist!! Good luck!

Bike2

almost 4 years ago Sagegreen

Congrats on being a finalist. I love the blend of flavors you have here.

Chef_cochon

almost 4 years ago North Country Rambler

I look forward to trying this recipe. It sounds like a wonderful combination of flavors. Totally different than mine. I'm curious to see which one people favor. You probably do too! :)

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almost 4 years ago Cara Eisenpress

Looks yum! Congrats!

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almost 4 years ago Mr_Vittles

Beautiful photography work! If the photographer reads this could you please tell what kind of lens is best suited for food photography? Maybe some tips too? Thanks.

Oh and congrats NWB!!! I never thought of a paella as a middle eastern type dish but this sounds amazing!

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almost 4 years ago TasteFood

Congratulations -- I love the sound so this paella. You had me at the merguez and the harissa.

Poppy_bone

almost 4 years ago NWB

Thank you! I just saw your recipe for harissa--can't wait to make it, it looks wonderful!

Poppy_bone

almost 4 years ago NWB

Thanks everyone!!

Poppy_bone

almost 4 years ago NWB

I'm excited to be able to share this recipe and talk about food with so many great cooks!

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almost 4 years ago onetribegourmet

Delicious Paella! Congrats! :)

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almost 4 years ago fortheloveofyum

I love this paella, the merguez, harissa, and spices are right up my alley. Very beautiful dish and the color is so rich! Congrats!

Halloween

almost 4 years ago iuzzini

Mmm- I am excited to try this! Love the use of harissa- so interesting!

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almost 4 years ago foodfighter

I love merguez, and plan to make this real soon. I'm going to add some preserved lemon I think. Congrats!

Mrs._larkin_370

almost 4 years ago mrslarkin

Mrs. Larkin is a trusted source on Baking.

Congrats on the Editor's Pick and being a finalist! Love these flavors!