Saturday, February 17, 2018


Not paella! A rice dish with chicken and sausages, topped with egg.
Jaime Oliver, the “Naked Chef,” caused a Twitter frenzy a while back, when he posted a recipe for Spanish paella with chicken thighs and chorizo sausage. Spaniards, Valencianos, in particular, were outraged! Paella never, ever, has sausage. Not chorizo, not “Italian” sausage. No! “This is an insult to our culture!” “WTF???” “Remove the chorizo. We don’t negotiate with terrorists.” (Read more comments here.)

Indeed, I am puzzled as to why American and British food writers invariably call for sausage in paella recipes. In Spain, this is heresy.

Now, I’m not a stickler for authenticity. I’ve been criticized for calling for “yellow coloring” in place of real saffron in a paella recipe. Not to sound too defensive, but I know that not everybody—including Spanish home cooks—can afford real saffron.  I like using boneless chicken thighs instead of hacked-up chicken with bone splinters. And, since I don’t cook paella outdoors on a wood fire, I’ve switched from a traditional rolled steel pan to a no-stick paella pan that fits on the stove top. (Lamentably, giving up the socorrat, the crunchy rice on the bottom.)

Still, chorizo or other sausage just seems so wrong.

Authentic paella as made in Valencia, where the rice is grown and the dish was born, doesn’t include sausage nor even seafood! Nope, no shrimp, no clams, no mussels, certainly no lobster!

Paella (named for the wide, flat pan in which it cooks) was born in the wetlands of the Albufera, not far from the city of Valencia. The Albufera is a lake separated from the sea by sand and silt. It is a region rich in wildlife—ducks, mallards, herons, eels, frogs—and it is where rice has been cultivated since the epoch of the Moors.

The people of the Albufera traditionally lived by hunting, fishing and rice growing. The original paella was a dish cooked by the rice reapers, who made their midday meal from the foods that were hunted, fished, foraged and grown—rice, eels, wild duck, wild rabbit, snails, frogs’ legs—cooked over a wood fire in a shallow, flat-bottomed pan called a “paella.”

Valencia paella has big butter beans, flat green beans, chicken and/or rabbit and/or duck, and snails. Snails! No sausage.

But, Valencia has hundreds of other rice dishes. Some of those do contain sausage! Just don’t call them paella!

This one comes from Orihuela and Elche in the adjoining province of Alicante, where rice is also grown. It’s called arroz con costra, rice with a “crust,” because it’s finished in the oven with a topping of beaten eggs. It can contain two or more types of sausage. More appropriate for Lent, a vegetarian version without the sausage is called arroz con perdiz, rice with “partridge,” with a whole head of garlic standing in for the fowl.

Under the crust of cooked egg--rice with chicken and sausages.

This rice dish with a touch of saffron has chickpeas as well as chicken and vegetables.

Sausage! But, don't call it paella!

A whole head of garlic--the "partridge"--cooks in the center of the rice. Separate the cloves and mash them into the serving of rice.

Traditionally, this rice dish was made with leftover chickpeas and caldo, broth, from the cocido, boiled dinner. It was cooked over a wood fire and finished, not in the oven, but by setting a brazier of hot coals on top of the cazuela to set the eggs.

Rice with Sausages and Egg Topping
Arroz con Costra

Use an earthenware cazuela, a paella pan or a wide, shallow metal pan that is oven-safe to cook the rice. 

White and black butifarra are cooked sausages that finish on top of the rice when it goes in the oven. But longaniza or salchicha is raw. It gets fried first, releasing some of its fat, then cooks with the rice.

At the top are black and white butifarra, cooked sausages. Below are two kinds of salchicha or longaniza, raw pork link sausages. These cook with the rice. Like chorizo, the red one is seasoned with pimentón (paprika) and garlic.
If preparing a vegetarian version, double the amount of oil and add 1 teaspoon of pimentón (paprika) to the rice. Use water or vegetable stock.

Serves 4-6.

Use "round" Spanish paella rice, a medium-short grain, for this rice dish. Shown here are both cut-up rabbit and chicken and the sliced sausages. This dish has cooked chickpeas and vegetables, such as squash.

2 pounds chicken and/or rabbit, cut into 2 ½ -inch pieces
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
3 ounces pork link sausage
3 ounces red pork link sausage
3 ounces white butifarra sausage, sliced
3 ounces black butifarra or morcilla (blood sausage), sliced
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 head garlic
½ cup grated tomato pulp
2 cups rice
½ teaspoon saffron threads, crushed (optional)
4 cups hot chicken stock or water
Sprig of fresh rosemary
8 ounces pumpkin or squash, cut in cubes
1 cup cooked or canned chickpeas, drained
4 eggs
2 teaspoons chopped parsley

Sprinkle the chicken pieces with salt and pepper and bring them to room temperature.

Cut the pork link sausages in 1-inch pieces. Slice the white and black butifarra sausages.

Heat the oil in a cazuela or oven-safe wide pan. Fry the pieces of link sausage until browned and remove them. Add the chicken pieces to the oil and fry them on medium heat until browned on all sides, about 10 minutes. It should be partially cooked in this time. Remove the chicken pieces.

Remove papery outer skin of garlic. Trim the root end. Cut off the top, exposing the cloves of garlic. Brown the head of garlic in the oil. Add the tomato pulp and fry it on medium-high heat 3 minutes. Add the rice and sauté it 2 minutes. Return the pieces of link sausage and the chicken to the pan.

Add the crushed saffron, if using, to the hot stock. Pour the stock into the pan and distribute the sausage and chicken pieces evenly. Add the cubes of pumpkin. Place the head of garlic, cut-side up, in the center. Add the sprig of rosemary to the pan. Taste for salt. If using water rather than seasoned stock, be sure to add salt to taste. 

When rice is partially cooked, sliced sausages and chickpeas are placed on top.

Bring the liquid to a boil. Reduce heat slightly and let the rice bubble 5 minutes. Remove the rosemary. Scatter the chickpeas over the top. Arrange the sliced white butifarra and black sausage on top. Cook 5 minutes more. Rice will not be completely cooked and some liquid should remain.

While rice is cooking, preheat oven to 425ªF/ 220ºC.

Before rice is cooked, pour beaten eggs over the top of the rice and place in the oven to finish cooking.

Beat the eggs with ½ teaspoon salt and the parsley. Pour the eggs over the top of the rice. Carefully place the cazuela or pan in the oven. Bake until eggs are set and slightly browned, 8-10 minutes.

Allow the rice to set 10 minutes before serving. Alternatively, let the rice cool to room temperature. Slice it into wedges to serve. 

Once cooled, the rice can be sliced into wedges and served room temperature.

More rice dishes:

And, a rice-less paella:


  1. It sure seems to me I had a rice dish labeled "Paella" that included chorizo at least once on a trip to Spain. And I know I have recipes for "Paella" that include chorizo.

    Now I accept that including sausage is probably not "authentic", but it seems to me it's not quite as much an abomination as your friends would insist.

  2. WHAT!?!?! Jaimie's recipe is just WRONG! The BEST Paella I've ever had was one you prepared! Do you remember, many years ago, when I went with you to the American club somewhere in Fuengerola and you demonstrated making paella and the whole thing caught on fire? LOL!

    1. Patty: I do remember that paella demo. Somebody in the audience was quick-witted enough to dowse the flames. I've never used one of those big gas rings since then.

  3. Nice blog :)I am an Indian,loved your blog,I also love to try out different cuisine.I saw your content on 'The Spain daily' by and clicked from there:).

    I am also a food lover and blogger.

    Best Wishes,

    1. HappyCooking: Glad you liked the blog. I hope you enjoy exploring Spanish cooking with me.

  4. Wow, this recipe looks so delicious! I love all the ingredients you used, so I already know I'll love this too. Thanks for sharing!