Paella: The Ultimate in Outdoor Entertaining Sonoma Style

Paella: The Ultimate in Outdoor Entertaining Sonoma Style

When I was a child I lived in Barcelona with my family.  Often we went to the Costa Brava for the week ends…we’d arrive early in the morning and my father would order the paella and sangria for our late lunch.  They cooked it on the beach, and when it was done we’d have a feast!

Occasionally we’d travel to Valencia (the home of modern day paella from the early 19th century) to visit my Aunt Molly and her family.  She’d always cook us a paella over an open fire pit in the ground.  I’m not sure if it was the large family gatherings or the paella itself, but I have loved paella every since.

my sisters, and two of my cousins in Valencia, I’m the oldest girl!

Since becoming an adult paella has been my favorite meal to prepare for large family occasions and for special friends.  Living here in Sonoma county where we eat and live outdoors so much of the time it’s become even easier!  We now own a  paella burner which makes it very easy to prepare this special dish in either our large or small paella pan.  Less then an hour away is the great store called the Spanish Table which carries authentic Portuguese and Spanish ingredients, plus the wines and all accessories you would ever need to create this meal authentically.   

The finished product

There are as many variations for paella as there are for risotto.  But my favorite is what I first tasted in Spain…a combo of seafood and meat.  By the way…this pan and burner do work just as well for risotto dishes.

Below is the recipe I use the most…of course the most important ingredient in paella, as in any dish is love!

  • 1/3 C. of Valencia or Bomba rice per person
  • 1 C. Chicken Stock per person
  • Saffron dissolved in 1C. of white wine
  • Olive Oil
  • 1 pc. of Chicken like a thigh or leg per person
  • 1/2 Soft Chorizo such as Bilbao or Palacios per person
  • 1/2 tspSpanish sweet pimenton per person
  • 1/8 C. chopped tomatoe (I use Roma Tomatoes) per person
  • 1 sweet onion
  • 1 garlic clove per person
  • 2 shrimp or prawn per person
  • 2-4 Clams or Mussels per person
  • Red Piquillo Peppers cut in strips
  • Artichoke Hearts, corn or peas
  • Cooked White Spanish Beans
  • Lemon wedges to garnish
  • Salt and Pepper to taste
  • And of course the most important ingredient…cook it with LOVE

Heat stock in a separate stock pot.  Crush saffron and add it to stock or a little bit of white wine.  Heat paella pan over medium heat, add olive oil and fry chicken until it begins to brown. Take the chicken out and sauté onions, add garlic and sauté all together. Add chorizo and cook until heated.  Add the rice, stirring until well coated with oil.  Add the paprika and chopped tomatoes.  Stir while cooking for a few minutes.  Add saffron flavored wine and hot stock.  Bring to a boil while scraping the bottom of the pan.  Place the chicken back in the dish spread out evenly.

Now the rice should be level and there is no need to stir from now on.  Adjust heat ot maintain a nice simmer.  When the rice has absorbed a good amount of liquid but still has a soupy appearance add the mussels, clams, seafood part.  Once the rice has cooked add the shrimp or prawns and tuck down in the rice, then the piquillo peppers, and vegetables.

During this time the rice shou,d be caramelizing on the bottom of the pan or creating what is called La Soccarat.  It will make a faint crackling sound and smell toasty sweet but not burnt. Set aside to rest for 5 to 10 minutes.  Spinkle with chopped parsley, garnish with lemon wedges and serve.

We entertained and served it this past week end on Father’s Day for family who traveled here from Munich & Hamburg, Germany; Carlsbad, CA; and from right around here in Sebastopol.  Since we have a couple of family members who are gluten intolerant Whole Foods was kind enough to make a gluten free chorizo.  Everyone was happy!  Come and join us at our latest Paella event…There is great beauty in entertaining in a style that is personal to you and your family tradition.

If you have a favorite family recipe or story to share, I’d love to hear it! Leave me a message below, always looking for new and fun ideas!




  1. Kelley 12 years ago

    I love this! What a great day – I’ve not yet tackled Paella but remember it from when i lived in France in Les Sables D’Olonne. My father in law fished the tide-pools on the weekends and we’d have it a lot in the summer. Fabulous meal. Someday…..I am going for it! And luckily I have you to walk me through it!
    Thanks for this beautiful piece!

  2. Ron Britton 12 years ago

    Sounds yummy Irene.
    Growing up in Arizona I am familiar with all the ingredients of paella but have never had it. One reason would be my allergy to bi-valves, no clams/mussels/oysters for me. What would you suggest as a substitute for those with allergies like mine?

  3. heidi & atticus 12 years ago

    wow! Atticus’s mouth is salivating, and Heidi thinks, without the meat (vegetarian), it sounds wonderful! Spanish Table is such a fabulous store! nice post…

  4. Author
    Irene Turner 12 years ago

    Ron…you can make paella with only meat and no bi-valves…like risotto, you can change up the ingredients almost anyway you want! Give it a try, you’ll like it.

  5. Donna McCord 12 years ago

    Thank you so much for sharing your recipe and even more for sharing your family joy! Watching the video reminded me of my own family — Italian on my mom’s side, Portugese & Spanish on my Dad’s side. Good food and wine are an integral part of all family celebrations! Like Ron, I won’t eat clams or mussels, so thank you for letting us know we can substitute!

  6. Alexandra Brooks 12 years ago

    Mmmmmmmmm. I already commented on FB but I just want to compliment your mad moving making skills again Irene. Just wonderful. I’m super-impressed. Wow, wow, wow, cool, cool, cool!

  7. Lee Lonitz 12 years ago

    Wow, talk about a blast from the past – paella, a dish that used to be a treat for me and my brother when my parents would take us to the only Spanish paella restaurant in SF. I remember the decadent taste of the saffron rice with the mussels and clam. Everyone has to try paella at least once and I’m going to definitely have to try it out at home since you gave it high marks…once I get a paella burner!:)

  8. Julia M Lindsey 12 years ago

    I love getting together with family and having traditional family favorites. It always brings back great memories.Thanks for sharing your recipe and memories.

  9. Renee Ludwigs 12 years ago

    What a lovely post Irene! I would agree that the most important ingredient is how you prepare it with love. It’s amazing how certain foods can trigger fond childhood memories. Those are my comfort foods that I go to again and again. Thanks for sharing your favorite recipe!

  10. Cheryl McDonald 12 years ago

    I love paella! Have not made it in a long time, but always enjoyed doing it for family gatherings. Great post, love the authentic recipe and the photography is beautiful in your video!

  11. Jennifer Duchene 12 years ago

    What glorious memories. I love paella and have fond memories of eating it as a young girl. My fondest memory is when we visited the Basque country, in France one summer, and the town laid out tables, put up a bandstand closed the streets and giant paella were being cooked in the street ready for the feast music dancing & magic to herald the end of summer.
    Love is certainly an essential ingredient in cooking. Nice video montage.

  12. Louise Edington 12 years ago

    I love Paella! Unfortunately my husband won’t eat rice but I think I’m going to invite people I love over and share with them. Thanks for a great video and post and can’t wait to tyr the recipe!!!

  13. Carolyn Maso 12 years ago

    Irene, I like your style… beauty combined with heart & soul¨¯`♥ ﻉ√٥ﺎ

  14. Ciao, ti faccio i miei complimenti per il blog. Mi piace davvero! Abbigliamento on line

  15. Caron 11 years ago

    Can’t wait to try!

  16. Keri Ofshe 10 years ago

    Oh, my!! This looks fantastic!! I can’t wait to make this for my family. Your paella looks incredible!!

    • Author
      Irene Turner 10 years ago

      So sorry you didn’t get to experience it in person Keri…some other time for sure!

  17. Diana 10 years ago

    Loved hearing this story, Irene, and learning about La Soccarat – what a wonderful phrase. Glad to have found your blog via Pinterest!

    • Author
      Irene Turner 10 years ago

      Thanks so much for stopping by Diana, and I’m glad you like!


  1. […] Posted on June 30, 2010 by tstsantafe Check out Irene Turner’s gorgeous paella complete with recipe! This entry was posted in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink. ← Moroccan Food […]

  2. […] As not many people knew each other, we broke the ice by having everyone pitch in and help to set up the lights, mill around and help serve the wine and make the food.  By all working together to make the party happen, they all got to know each other and the atmosphere was very relaxed.  Also, everyone either participated in chopping, stirring, adding the ingredients or serving the food, so they all got to see exactly what went into the risotto they were going to eat.  Plus we cooked it outdoors, in a paella pan, on top of a paella gas ring, so everyone could stand around and watch; just as we would have a paella! […]

  3. […] all know that my #1 entertaining dish for the summers is Paella…but I have to admit, this runs a real close second! Not only is it delicious, it’s good […]

  4. […] are two tasks plus cooking paella that I’d rather not do inside the house due to the mess. But the rest, the ease of […]

  5. […] together for a paella event at Marimar Estate and entertaining Sonoma Style™. As you all know I am a paella aficionado so it was a delight to enjoy one that I didn’t actually have to cook […]


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