Lamb and Red Pepper Paella

If you’ve never had paella before, you’re probably thinking what’s the big deal, its just another rice dish (or maybe that was just me). Well firstly, rice is awesome. Secondly, paella, like risotto is in a league all its own in the rice-world. This Spanish dish is not just “stuff” mixed in with rice–this is a hearty, vibrant class of dishes very open to experimentation whether it be vegetables, seafood, or meat–and technique is important. Like risotto, while the mix-ins and other flavors are important, the texture and method of cooking the rice itself is also a big part of what makes it so unique. In this particular rendition, the focus is red peppers, lamb, and chickpeas.

Lamb and Red Pepper Paella

This paella was really tasty–very fresh, slightly sweet, and enticingly aromatic (yay for saffron). Plus, I love the mix of colors and how it looks great in that big paella pan (and after all, this is also a big part of serving paella)! Furthermore, I am always a sucker for the flavor of the lamb as is, but it provided a fantastic counter-point to the sweetness of the peppers and the distinct chickpea flavor (which was surprisingly present). All in all, I was smitten with how these flavors played together, and the rice itself was fun to eat (like risotto)–both creamy and al dente at the same time.

I was inspired to make paella after seeing a beauty of a dish, and it couldn’t have come at a better time for me. This particular recipe came from Paella!: Spectacular Rice Dishes From Spain, one of two items I won via a giveaway hosted by one of my favorite blogs, The Perfect Pantry (courtesy of La Tienda). The other item: the paella pan itself! If you don’t have one of your own, no worries–you can still get away without one (it just makes life easier if you’re making paella). The only difficulty I had: fitting it over multiple burners on the stove!

  • Stock
    • 1 1/3 cups canned chickpeas (1 can)
    • 6.5 cups chicken stock
    • 12 cloves garlic
    • 1 shallot
    • 4 sprigs parsely
    • 2 sprigs rosemary
    • 2 sprigs thyme
    • 1/4 tsp dried oregano
    • 1 Bay leaf
    • 1/2 tsp ground cumin
    • 1/4 tsp crumbled saffron thread
    • 1/2 cup white wine
  • 8 Tbsp olive oil
  • ~2-3 lbs leg of lamb (mine had bone-in)
  • salt
  • pepper
  • 2 red bell peppers
  • 1 shallot
  • 1 tomato
  • 2 Tbsp cognac
  • 3 cups short grain rice (valencia or arborio)
  • Garnish
    • 1 pimiento (or some other sweet small pepper)
    • 1 or 2 tomatoes
    • parsely
    • rosemary

Paella pan

Begin by admiring your paella pan. That sucker is big.

Strained and infused stock

The first step for the paella: make a very flavorful stock since this is what the rice will absorb (and make the backbone of your flavor). I started from canned chickpeas. Begin by reserving 1/3 of them whole (for later), and then mash up the rest of them in a pot along with the liquid in the can. Coarsely chop up the stock herbs and vegetables, throwing them in the pot along with everything else short of the wine. Since my lamb also had the bone in, I figured I’d go for extra flavor points and I threw that into the pot as well (if you don’t have any, don’t worry). Raise this up to a boil, cover, and simmer for 20-30 minutes.

When time is up, strain out the solids (discard them) and measure 5.5 cups of the liquid for this recipe. Save any extra for another day (yes, its not your typical stock to keep in the freezer, but you’ll find a use for it, trust me). Finally add the wine to top this off to 6 cups of liquid. This delicious nectar will be the broth for your paella.

Brown the lamb

Preheat the oven to 400°F.

Add oil to the hot pan. Cube the lamb and season with salt and pepper. Brown the meat on all sides for roughly 3 minutes per side. Be mindful of the heat sources on your pan if your playing musical chairs with the stovetop burners like I was. Set the lamb aside.

Sauté the shallot, red peppers, brandy, and tomato

Sauté the minced shallot and finely chopped red peppers over medium high heat until softened, roughly 8-10 minutes. Add the finely chopped tomato and cognac, cooking away the liquid.

Add the rice, broth, and chickpeas

Once sufficiently cooked, add the rice and toss it in the pan to coat it in the vegetables and oil. Add the hot broth and raise to a boil. Add the whole chickpeas you saved earlier into the pan, adjusting the salt as necessary. Continue to boil for about 2 minutes before returning the lamb to the pan, at which point, you should boil for another 3 minutes or so. You don’t want the rice drowning in a soupy mess, but you do want there to be enough liquid for it to finish cooking. When it looks like you’ve reached this point, its time to decorate the paella pan with your garnishes (quickly).

Lamb and Red Pepper Paella

Spread the 1/4 inch slices of tomato around the pan as well as the pimiento (or whatever other sweet pepper you’ve opted for), chopped in thin strips however you think it looks attractive. Sprinkle on some parsley and/or rosemary and transfer this to the oven for about 15 minutes. The rice should be close to al dente. Remove it from the oven, cover with foil, and let it sit for another 5-10 minutes to finish steaming. Now gather round and dig in–enjoy!

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23 Responses to “Lamb and Red Pepper Paella”

  1. deeba Says:

    Hugely envious of the paella pan Mike…& love the flavourful paella. It’s amazing, & has so much happening in there…WOW!! The colours are fab too!

  2. Joan Nova Says:

    Applause! I paid particular attention to ingredients and techniques in this recipe because I’m of Spanish descent and very familiar with paella — and I think you did a super job. The combo of lamb, red pepper, chick peas adds a decidedly Med flavor and I’m sure it worked well. Only thing that really surprised was the cognac – first time I’ve seen that in paella.

  3. Bellini Valli Says:

    I love the way you described this dish Mike, “very fresh, slightly sweet, and enticingly aromatic “. It makes me want ro go and check if I have all of the ingredients:D

  4. Kevin Says:

    That looks really good. I have been wanting to try a paella for a while now.

  5. pam Says:

    I have paella pan lust.

  6. Lydia (The Perfect Pantry) Says:

    Interesting — I don’t see many lamb paellas, so this is one that will go on my list of recipes to try.

  7. Hélène Says:

    Paella, that reminds me of beautiful souvenirs. Your dish is so nice looking.

  8. Bren Says:

    i’m freakin’ loving this! the colors are amazing as u say and i’m mad you won a freakin’ pan! how cool is that. i’ve given so much stuff away on the blog and i’ve yet to win anything!

    nice work Mike! ur a bona fide Hispanic!! :)

  9. the caked crusader Says:

    I love paella yet have never had a lamb one. This is a stunner – that saffron tinted rice looks divine! You’re on a hot streak at the moment! Are you looking to adopt an adult child by any chance?

  10. Peter Says:

    Mike, I recall you looking for a Paellera in FLA and you found one! Good saffron goes a long way for colour and no off-putting flavour the like cheap stuff gives.

    The Moorish influences here are evident with cumin and chickpeas…I’m hungry.

  11. Lauren Says:

    Mike, this dish has me salivating! The flavours sound incredible, and as always, your pics are gorgeous!

    Thanks for posting a link to the Paella cookbook – I ordered it this weekend and hope it will be here by the end of the month when my family is here.

    My father’s side of the family is Spanish, and unfortunately, the Matriarch of the family, who had cooked all kinds of lovely authentic dishes, passed away much too young. Spanish cooking has been something I’ve always meant to explore, but just never got around to it. I think it’s time I got around to it.

  12. mikky Says:

    this is a favorite, but never tried paella with lamb… hmmm… this is something to look forward to… lovely post… :)

  13. celia Says:

    paella here in the area of Penincula iberica and more ingredients such as chicken sausages but you also seem to be very good.

  14. Marie Says:

    I’ve only made paella once, and overcooked my shrimp.
    You’ve given me the encouragement to try again!

  15. Dragon Says:

    Now this is an inspired dish! Come by my blog, I have awards for you.

  16. nithya at hungry desi Says:

    Sounds really flavorful and the pictures are making me hungry. I see you’re still on a chickpea kick too :) We just made punjabi chole last night using, what else, but loads of chickpeas!

  17. Jude Says:

    I practically grew up eating seafood paella in the Philippines. I need to get me a paella pan!

  18. jonathan Says:

    i think of all the dishes you have made recently this one makes me the hungriest. well done

  19. MariannaF Says:

    wow, this looks amazing- better then most paella’s ive had in the past! recipe definately worth a try!

  20. Mexican Inspired Paella Verde from Mike's Table Says:

    […] said it before and I’ll say it again: I love paella. This Spanish cousin-of-risotto leaves itself wide open to modification and reinterpretation, and […]

  21. Abby Says:

    Hi Mike,

    This recipe looks great! I’d like to give it a go. Can you please tell me how many people it serves?


  22. Abby Says:

    Greetings from Australia! I made this last night with a few minor changes and it was great! I added chorizo and green beans to the recipe and left out the chickpeas. It had a lovely flavour and the lamb was nice and tender.

    It served 6 of us, although 3 of the boys are big eaters, so you could probably get 8 serves out of it.

    Thanks again -Abby

  23. Gary Says:

    Hello, I think your website might be having browser
    compatibility issues. When I look at your blog in Chrome, iit looks fine butt when openig in Internet Explorer, it has
    some overlapping. I just wanted to give you a quick heads up!
    Other then that, very good blog!

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