For the uninitiated, paella sure looks intimidating. Even after you get the special pan, and figure out how to heat it on your possibly dinky stove, and acquire the right rice that Spaniards swear by, and track down the saffron you need to make it picture-perfect golden, you then need to get acquainted with cooking the damn thing. Burn the bottom right to get that crust, but not so much that your rice welds itself to your pan. Add just enough water to keep it hydrated so it doesn't dry out, but heaven help you if you over-hydrate it and turn the entire thing into mush.
Frankly, paella is intimidating, a true cooking project to tackle when you have a few hours of uninterrupted kitchen time. But while this classic Spanish recipe has a lot of steps and requires some investment, none of the actual cooking is that hard. Once you break the dish down into small components, it's all territory you've probably tread before.
Think of making paella like dressing for fall—it's all about layering colors, textures, and flavors, one stage at a time, to build your way up to a final ensemble. Below, we've broken the process for our classic Valencian chicken and rabbit paella down into the main basic steps you want to follow.