To clean mussels and make the broth for the paella: add them to a bowl of cold water. Mix in about 2 teaspoons of flour. (Eyeball this measurement!) The mussels will gorge on the flour a bit and release any sandy bits. To a pot, set over high heat, add 5 cups of cold water, along with white wine and garlic. When the water reaches a simmer, add the mussels and cover pot; cook for 2 to 5 minutes, until mussels are opened. Discard any mussels that haven’t opened—these are bad!
Remember that we’re not throwing out the broth—that’s the good stuff. Remove the mussels using a slotted spoon and add them to a bowl. Transfer them to the fridge. Run the broth through a strainer and mix in the saffron. You should end up with about 6 cups of broth. Set aside.
Place the paella pan over medium-high heat. Add about 3 tablespoons of olive oil. When the oil is hot, add the shrimp and cook for 2 to 4 minutes, flipping them halfway through. This will them about 3/4 of the way and and give the pan a super savory flavor. Remove the shrimp from the pan and set aside.
Add about 1/4 cup of oil and when hot, add the onions and red bell peppers. Cook until very softened, stirring often, about 15 minutes. Add more a teaspoon or two of more oil is it starts to stick to the bottom of the pan. Mix in the minced garlic and cook for an additional 5 minutes. Next, mix in the tomatoes, tomato paste, paprika, cumin, bay leaves and salt. Cook until the tomatoes have released and cooked out all the water, about 15 to 20 minutes, stirring very often. You can adjust the heat as needed. During this period I turned the heat down to medium.
Next, pour in the rice and mix and toast and mix and toast, about 5 minutes. Pour in about 2 cups of broth (you can eyeball this measurement). Bring the heat up to medium-high (the liquid should eventually come to a simmer), and cook the paella, stirring frequently. Give the paella a taste and add salt (I added a few more tablespoons—it’s a lot of rice!). When the liquid is mostly absorbed, repeat this 4 to 5 more times, adding 2 cups of broth at a time until the rice is mostly cooked.
When the rice is pretty much done, pour in an additional 1 cup of broth and smooth out the top. Adjust the salt to taste. Keep cooking (this will create a crust on the bottom) until the broth is mostly absorbed (I like my paella with a bit of liquid in it) and add the mussels and shrimp to the top of the paella. Allow to stand for about 5 to 10 minutes. Sprinkle with minced Italian parsley or in my case, micrograms.
There will be leftovers and they’ll be SO good. You can heat it up in the microwave or over the stove-top.