Monday, March 7, 2011

Chicken Paella

Simply put paella is a Spanish dish of rice, some kind of meat, and vegetables cooked together in a pan which is called a paella. There are an infinite amount of recipes for paella...and no, you don't need a paella pan to make it. Here is our quick recipe from our Saturday night dinner.

8 chicken thighs, skinless, bone in
1 tomato, diced
1 Spanish onion, diced
4 cloves of garlic, minced
1/2 a red bell pepper, diced
1/2 a green bell pepper, diced
3 carrots, thinly sliced
a dozen thin asparagus spears, cut into 1" pieces
1 cup of chorizo, diced
3/4 of a cup of calasparra rice (this is a specialty item...if you can't find it, any type of risotto rice like arborio is fine)
extra virgin olive oil
salt and pepper to taste
2 tsp. smoked paprika
1 tsp. ground cumin
several sprigs of fresh thyme
lemon, cut into wedges
1 cup of chicken stock
a pinch of saffron
handful of fresh parsley, chopped

Marinate the chicken with olive oil, salt, pepper, paprika, and cumin. Toss chicken with your hands to make sure it is all covered evenly. Heat enough olive oil to coat the bottom of a 12" cast iron skillet over high heat. Brown the chicken on both sides, working in batches. Once a piece is brown on both sides, take it out of the skillet and set aside. Once you are done with the chicken start cooking the onions with the garlic in the empty pan. Cook until they are not let them get too dark! Once they are translucent, add in the chorizo and stir around until the onions turn red. Next, toss in the rest of the vegetables. Cook the veggies until they start to color and soften. In the meantime, heat the chicken stock until it starts to simmer. Once simmering, shut off the heat and add in the pinch of saffron. When your vegetables are done cooking, toss the rice into the pan along with the thyme and stir around until it is evenly coated with the vegetable juices. Now nestle the chicken into the rice and vegetables and pour the chicken stock over the entire pan. When the chicken stock starts to simmer again shut the heat off and cover the pan with tin foil or a large cookie sheet. Put the covered pan into a 400F oven. Check on it every 15 minutes. Add some more stock out of a box if it gets too dry, but DO NOT make it soupy! This cooking process will take somewhere from 30-45 minutes. When it is done the rice should be cooked al dente. When you are done, top with parsley and a dash more of paprika if you'd like. Serve with lemon wedges.

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