Mexican Paella with Shrimp, Mussels and Chorizo

Paella Mexicana con Camarones, Mejillones y Chorizo
Recipe from Season 6, Mexico—One Plate at a Time
Servings: 25to 30


  • 1gallon chicken broth
  • 1/4cup salt (1/3 cup if you're using low-sodium broth, 1/2 cup if using unsalted broth), plus more for the chicken
  • 3poundsred-ripe tomatoes OR 2 28-ounce cans diced fire-roasted tomatoes, undrained
  • 10largefresh poblano chiles
  • 30 chicken thighs (with bones and skin in tact)
  • 1 1/4cups good quality olive oil
  • 1 1/2pounds white onion, chopped into 1/2-inch pieces (about 5 cups)
  • 3pounds Mexicanchorizo sausage, casings removed
  • 2heads garlic, peeled and finely chopped
  • 8pounds medium-grain rice
  • 4pounds medium-large (21 to 25 count per pound) shrimp, peeled (leaving the tail and final joint in tact, if you wish) and deveined
  • 7pounds mussels, scrubbed and de-bearded (if necessary)
  • 1 1/2pounds frozen peas, defrosted
  • 1cup (loosely packed) chopped flat leaf parsley
  • 2/3cup silver tequila (optional)


  1. The broth and flavorings. In a large (12-quart) stock pot, combine the broth and salt. Measure in 1 gallon of water, cover the pot and set over medium-low heat.Roast the fresh tomatoes on a rimmed baking sheet 4 inches below a preheated broiler until blackened and blistered, about 6 minutes per side. Cool, then peel (if you wish). Scoop the tomatoes (fresh roasted or canned roasted) into a blender or food processor, along with all their juices. Puree and set aside.Roast the poblanos over a gas flame or 4 inches below a preheated broiler, turning frequently, until blackened all over, about 5 minutes for the open flame, 10 minutes under the broiler. Collect in a bowl and cover with a kitchen towel. When cool rub off the blackened skin and pull out the stem and seed pod, then tear the chiles open, scrape out the seeds and rinse briefly under cold water to remove stray bits of skin and seeds. Chop into 1/2-inch pieces.
  2. Brown the chicken. Sprinkle the skin side of the chicken thighs with salt. Set the paella pan over the burner or wood fire - the burner set on high, the wood fire stoked to an impressive blaze. Give the pan a minute or so to heat up, then add the olive oil. Tip the pan to distribute the oil, then immediately start laying in the chicken, skin-side down. Sprinkle with salt. Fry - move the pieces around as necessary to ensure they're not sticking and that they are cooking evenly - until the skin is deeply golden, about 10 minutes. Turn the chicken thighs over (I like to do this with a pair of tongs), and fry until browned and cooked through (juices from a small cut at the thickest part will run clear), 8 to 10 minutes longer. Remove to a rimmed baking sheet and keep warm in a low oven.
  3. Cook the flavorings. Immediately add the onion and chorizo to the pan. Stir (I use a long-handled grilling spatula), breaking up lumps of chorizo, until the chorizo is cooked through and the onion is beginning to brown, about 10 minutes. Add the garlic and stir for a couple of minutes longer. Stir in the tomatoes and poblanos, and cook, stirring nearly constantly, until the mixture is very thick and the oil has separated from it, 7 or 8 minutes.
  4. Start cooking the rice. If using wood, make sure you fire is still stoked to burn very hot. Add the rice to the flavorings, stir to combine, and keep stirring for 4 or 5 minutes, until a good portion of the rice has turned from translucent to milky white. Pour in the broth mixture and set a timer for 12 minutes. Stir once a minute, slowly and thoroughly scraping across the bottom of the pan and moving the rice from edges into the center. At 12 minutes, the rice should have absorbed enough liquid to look like risotto. Check a kernel of rice: it should be getting soft, but still have a tiny bit of chalkiness at the center. If the rice doesn't look or taste ready, let it cook another minute or two.
  5. Add the chicken and shellfish. Working quickly (I usually ask for help from a guest at this point), nestle the chicken thighs into the center of the rice, lay the shrimp in a ring around the chicken and arrange the mussels in the rice around the edge of the pan. Cover the pan with two pieces of heavy duty foil (it's typically 18 inches wide) or with a folded-up tablecloth. Turn the burner to its lowest setting or remove the burning logs from under the paella (but leave the embers). Let stand for 10 minutes to cook the shrimp and mussels and finish cooking the rice.
  6. Serve the paella. Uncover the paella and sprinkle with the peas, parsley, and, if you're using it, the tequila. Using a large serving spoon, gently fluff the mussels and shrimp into the rice mixture. (You can do the same thing with the chicken, but it's more difficult.) You can breathe a sigh of relief. You're ready to serve.


  1. I absolutely love this dish. I have tried several recipes and none like this one!
    This recipe is a favorite in our house. Thank you so much for making it easy enough for anybody to try!

  2. Curious. Unless I missed it after reading the recipe twice, I don’t see the size paella pan mentioned for this particular recipe.

    I’ve never made this large a recipe of paella, and probably never would.

    I think my pan is 18 inches.

    I’m fond of 25% Cilantro and 75% Parsley in mine.

    Possibly because my first experience with paella was in Mexico decades ago and the chef used some cilantro in it.

    Recently, I was pleased to find that the chef at a local restaurant does that too.

    1. Absolutely!!! Just keep an eye on the temperature. It may be straddling 2 burners and you’ll want to watch for hot spots!

  3. I have cooked the tradition Paella many times…I have 2 36 inch pans and other smaller ones…I’m cooking Ricks recipe on Cinco Dr mayo…Paella is my favorite dish to cook…I’m german and an artist….but a wanna be chef.

  4. Hi, I know that Season 6 was a long time ago, but I have kept this recipe around because it sounds so good. I have not made it because of the huge amount . I want to make it for the 4th this year. Can this recipe be halved?

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