I was lucky enough to have a Spanish classmate from Madrid offer to teach me how to make traditional Paella mixta. The dish turned out delicious and after a lot of chopping and sauteing it actually was not too difficult to make.
I think the trick to Paella mixta is making your own seafood stock, mixing it with the flavorful saffron and finally not covering the Paella as the rice cooks. I think one nice variation could be to add a cup or so of a nice flavorful white wine to the process. Also the recipe is pretty flexible in terms of ingredients. You could just do seafood, or just meat or just veggies. I also liked the various presentation tips she gave us which I share below. The paella makes a lot so definitely invite over a few friends, serve it with bread and Jamon Iberico (amazing dried Spanish ham) and maybe a glass of Sangria and enjoy! Traditionally Spanish families eat Paella together every Sunday which I think is a nice little tradition :)
Traditional Spanish “Mixed Paella”
• 4 tablespoons olive oil
• 2 skinless chicken breasts (option of beef and/or chorizo)
• 1 cups onion, diced, divided’
· 1 cup mushrooms, sliced
· 1 cup peas (fresh if you can find them)
• 3 cloves garlic, sliced very thin
• 1 tablespoon saffron
• 1 packet of Riz d’or condiment (You can find this at a Spanish grocery store)
• 2 handfuls of Paella rice per person
• 1 cup red bell peppers, ½ diced and ½ cup in strips for decoration
• few generous pinches of salt
• 6 calamari (diced)
• 9 mussels or clams plust 4 for decoration
• 12 shrimp, 6 for decoration
• 1/2 cup Roma tomato puree
In a large stock pot over high heat add shrimp and a few cups of water and in a separate pot add water to the mussels and cook both until shrimp turn pink and until mussels and/or clams open. Meanwhile, dice the onion, mushroom, red bell pepper, calamari and chicken. The shrimp pot should begin to produce a beautiful pinkish foam as it cooks. When the 2 stocks are finished simmering, strain and reserve (you’ve just made your own seafood broth! Yummm). Boil a few inches of water in a sauce pan and cook the peas for a few minutes until tender. Reserve.
Peal the shrimp but leave 6 shrimp unpeeled with heads, eyes (yup!) tails attached for decoration. Also keep 4 mussells for decoration as well. To the broth, add the saffron, a few very generous pinches of salt and the Riz d’Or condiment (which will give the rice a beautiful rich golden color). Stir well. Add 2 tablespoons oil to a sauté pan. Add the salted chicken breast and brown lightly on both sides. Remove chicken to a plate, leaving the oil. Add to the pot the cup of onions, garlic, calamari, shrimp and mussels. Cook for 5 to 7 minutes. Add the chicken back to the pan and add the tomato puree, stir to coat evenly and continue to cook for a few minutes. Next add the rice (2 handfuls of rice for each person).
For 7 people add 14 handfuls or ½ a small bag of rice. Make sure to mix the rice with the rest of the ingredients so it is perfectly blended. Shake the pan to make sure all is coated. Remember your NEVER going to stir the paella, the only mixing tool you have is shaking the pan! Now pour in the seafood broth to completely cover the rice (leaving only a few inches from the sauce pan uncovered). Now add the peas and mushrooms to the top (this will be nice decoration at the end). Next top the paella with the leftover 6 shrimp and mussels in a circular pattern for decoration. Then add the strips of red bell pepper alternating between shrimp and mussel. Now keep the heat low at around 2 and let the paella cook. Do not stir or touch it. Do not cover it. Occasionally you will need to add more stock when it starts to look dry. Watch the paella and it should be done in around 10-15 minutes. Turn heat off and cover the paella with a dish towel to keep warm and finish the cooking process. Bring paella pan onto the table on top of a coaster. Serve and enjoy!
Here are some pictures of steps: