Chicken Paella

Chicken Paella, a very yellow chicken and rice dish.
I had some really lovely saffron left over from the Marx Food dessert challenge I took part in last month, so I decided to make an allergy friendly version of paella which is a traditional rice dish from Valencia, a coastal region of Spain.  The original version is something between a gumbo and a risotto which is cooked in a special pan over an open flame and is stuffed with up to a dozen different kinds of highly allergenic seafood.

Since I don't own a paellera and prefer to avoid flames in my kitchen, I adapted Mark Bittman's technique for starting paella on the stove and finishing it in the oven from his book, How to Cook Everything.  The resulting recipe was surprisingly easy to make.

Yellow chicken...
Despite paella's traditional roots and heavenly spices, it is really just a basic rice dish which can be thrown together on a weeknight with any meats or vegetables you have on hand.  The oven finish has the bonus of giving you enough time to throw a salad together and yell at direct the kid to set the table.

...coordinating yellow "tablescape".

Chicken Paella
(Click here for printable version.)

1 qt chicken stock (homemade, if possible)
healthy pinch of saffron threads
2-4 Tbs olive oil, divided
2 lbs chicken, chopped into bite size pieces
2 tsp ground paprika
kosher salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
1 large onion, chopped (I like 'em sweet)
1 large red bell pepper, sliced
2-3 cloves garlic, crushed
2 C short grain rice
1 C frozen peas
1/4 C dry white wine (optional)

Heat oven to 450°F.  Warm the stock and saffron threads in a saucepan over low heat until ready to use.

Use a large, ovenproof 12 to 14 inch skillet.  (Cast iron is perfect.)  Heat 2 Tbs olive oil over medium high heat.  Combine chicken with paprika, salt and pepper, stirring to coat, then brown in hot skillet.  Remove from pan after all sides are just browned. and set aside.

If needed, add additional tablespoon of olive oil.  Cook the onion and bell pepper in hot skillet.  Sprinkle with salt and pepper.  Stir occasionally while cooking until the onion is translucent, then stir in crushed garlic.

Check again to see if additional olive oil is needed.  If so, add last tablespoon and heat.  Add rice to pan and stir until all grains are shiny.  Carefully pour stock mixture into pan, then stir in chicken, peas and wine.  Adjust seasonings as desired.  (If you are using a commercial stock, additional salt will probably be unnecessary.  If using homemade, add salt and/or pepper as desired.)

Make sure that mixture is spread evenly in the pan, and all of it is below the level of the stock.  Transfer the skillet into the oven and allow to bake undisturbed for 15 minutes.  At this point carefully evaluate the rice.  If all the stock has been absorbed and the rice has cooked to tenderness, return it to the oven, turn off the heat and allow it to sit undisturbed for another 15 minutes.  If the rice is dry but too hard, add a small amount of water or stock (about a quarter or third of a cup) and allow to cook for another 5 minutes.  Reevaluate the rice after 5 minutes, adjust liquid and cook time again if needed, then turn off oven and allow to sit for 15 minutes before serving.

I'm sharing my golden paella with:

No comments: