The Secret to Mastering Paella: Cooking Over a Wood-Burning Fire

At its core, paella is mercifully simple. The traditional Spanish dish incorporates rice, saffron, chicken and/or seafood, and vegetables that meld together to create a hearty, communal meal.

“But you have to use the right ingredients and take your time,” says Luis Montesinos, Head Chef at Jaleo by Jose Andrés at the Cosmopolitan Las Vegas. “This isn’t one of those ‘set it and forget it’ [meals]. You have to nurture this.”

Watch how Montesinos prepares the iconic dish at Jaleo—over a large wood-burning grill.

Can’t replicate the setup at home? Don’t sweat it. Use these three tips for cooking great, authentic paella. Then try your hand at making one of these five savory paella recipes; they include an eclectic mix of protein and whole grains.