When making paella at home, the ingredients may vary, but one thing that is absolutely non-negotiable is the socarrat: the layer of crunchy rice that forms at the bottom of the pan in any true rendition of the dish. It is the best part of the paella experience, and that is a fact.
This can be more difficult to achieve than you might think, though. It will definitely never happen in the oven, and the stovetop can be unreliable as the burners are generally not large enough to span the wide surface of a paella pan.
My solution: Always use the grill. You can get an even heat under the entire surface of the pan which means no portion of the dish will be robbed of the crust it deserves.
As a general rule when using a charcoal grill, I’ll add the briquettes to only one side of the grill in order to create a hot side and a cooler side. In this instance, we start by sauteing the ingredients on the hot side, then transferring to the cooler side so the rice can cook more gently. At the end, the whole pan goes back to the hot side to get the socarrat in the finish.
Get the full recipe below!
Chicken and Sausage Paella on the Grill
1 lb. boneless, skinless chicken thighs, cut into 1-in. cubes (about 4 thighs)
2 ½ tsp. kosher salt, divided
3 Tbsp. vegetable oil, divided
8 oz. dry-cured Spanish chorizo, sliced
4 scallions, white parts chopped, green tops sliced and reserved
½ cup chopped jarred roasted red peppers
2 cups uncooked Arborio rice
4 garlic cloves, minced (about 1 Tbsp.)
1 tsp. smoked paprika
1 tsp. ground turmeric
½ cup (4 oz.) dry white wine
1 (14.5-oz.) can diced tomatoes
4 cups lower-sodium chicken broth
1. Open bottom vent of grill completely. Light charcoal chimney starter filled with briquettes. When briquettes are covered with gray ash, pour them onto bottom grate of grill, and then push to 1 side of grill.
2. Season chicken with 1 teaspoon of the salt. Place a paella pan or large, grill-safe sauté pan over side of grill with coals, and add 2 tablespoons of the vegetable oil. Heat until shimmering.
3. Add chicken and chorizo to pan, and cook, stirring occasionally, until slightly browned, 5 to 6 minutes. Transfer to a plate, and set aside.
4. Add remaining 1 tablespoon oil to skillet. Add chopped white scallion pieces and roasted peppers, and cook, stirring occasionally, 2 minutes. Add rice, garlic, smoked paprika, and turmeric, and cook, stirring often, until rice is slightly toasted, 2 to 3 minutes. Add wine, and cook 1 minute, stirring and scraping up any brown bits from bottom of pan.
5. Add tomatoes, chicken broth, and remaining 1½ teaspoons salt, and bring to a boil. Transfer pan to side of grill without coals. Close grill lid, and cook 20 minutes, giving pan a quarter turn every 5 minutes.
6. Return chicken and sausage to pan, and transfer back to hot side of grill, and cook, without stirring, until rice is cooked through and a crust has formed on bottom of pan, about 10 minutes. (You may need to add more briquettes to maintain heat.)
7. Remove pan from grill, and cool slightly, about 5 minutes. Garnish with green scallion pieces, and serve.
Active time: 50 minutes
Total time: 50 minutes