Chicken and Vegetable Paella

Yes, I know, we’ve already posted on paella, but during the summer months there’s nothing like making paella in one of its many variations and having it outside on the deck with a nice glass of wine.

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After making our seafood paella last time, we couldn’t help but thinking that we’d like it much better in a former variation, with chicken and vegetables!  I think the variety of ingredients is what we craved, but in any case we made it again.

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It’s become a lazy Sunday afternoon tradition to eat this later in the day, after reading the paper or going to the gym in the morning.  We’ll start cooking around 1 and by the time it’s ready, it’s appropriately late enough for “Spanish” lunch, and reminds us of our leisurely days in Southern Spain when we first came encountered this lovely dish.

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You can really add whatever vegetables that seem good, which is why so many are optional in the list.  The other thing that makes this relatively easy to make is to buy some of the vegetables pre-cut or jarred (I know, it sounds like what do you mean you don’t buy it all fresh?! But honestly, it saves time and still tastes amazing.)  The real key to a truly good and authentic paella is to ensure that you let it cook enough at the end to get a true “soccarat” – or that crispy burned layer on the bottom.

Ingredients

  • 4.5 cups unsalted chicken broth (if using bomba rice, else use 3 cups)
  • 1.5 cups bomba rice (great for paella)
  • Pinch of saffron threads
  • 2 heads of garlic, crushed or just cook the cloves
  • 1/2 onion coarsely grated on a box grater
  • 1.5 lb chicken breast, cut into 1-2″ pieces
  • 6 oz chorizo slices into rounds
  • 12 oz green beans, trimmed
  • 1 tomato grated on a box grater (or just 1/2 cup of chopped or crushed tomatoes from box or can, I like the Pomi box tomatoes)
  • 1/2 12 oz jar of roasted red peppers (optional)
  • 1/2 can of chickpeas (optional)
  • 1 jar of artichoke hearts (optional)

Directions

  1. Saute the chicken in olive oil in the paella pan for about 8-10 minutes on Medium heat until it looks cooked through.  Remove chicken from the pan and place in a separate plate and cover with foil.
  2. Take the crushed garlic and let it cook for about 3 minutes, and then add the green beans and artichokes and cook until soft but not wilted, about 8-10 minutes.  Remove green beans from the pan and put on another plate and cover with foil.
  3. Make the sofrito: Reduce the heat to medium and saute the onion and garlic until the onion softens, about 5 min.  Add the tomato, season with salt, and cook, stirring often, until the mixture has darkened to a deep burgundy and is thick like a compote, 15-20 minutes.  If it starts to stick to the pan or burn, add a little water.
  4. Add the rice and cook: Bring the broth to a simmer.  Add the rice to the pan with the sofrito, and cook for 1 – 2 minutes.  Raise the heat to medium-high.  Pour in 3 cups of the broth (reserve the rest) and stir or shake the pan to evenly distribute the rice.  Arrange the chicken, chorizo, green beans, chickpeas , roasted red peppers and artichoke hearts (if using) in the pan, submerging them as much as possible below the level of the liquid.  From this point on, do not stir the rice.
  5. Simmer vigorously, moving the pan over one and two burners to distribute the heat and to cook the rice as evenly as possible.  When the rice is at the same level as the liquid, after 8-10 min., reduce the heat to medium low.
  6. Continue to simmer more gently, rotating the pan as necessary, until the liquid has been absorbed, about 10 min. more.  Taste a grain just below the top layer of rice; it should be al dente, with a tiny white dot in the center.  (If the rice is not done but all the liquid has been absorbed, add a bit of broth and cook a few minutes more.)
  7. Create the socarrat: Increase the heat to medium-high and, rotating the pan, cook for about 2 min., until the bottom layer of rice starts to caramelize, creating a socarrat.  The rice will crackle, but if it starts to smell burned, remove the pan from the heat immediately.
  8. Let the paella rest: Remove the pan from the heat.  Cover loosely with foil or a clean kitchen towel and let the paella rest for 5 min. to even the cooking and let the flavors meld.
  9. Serve: Set the paella pan in the center of a table, remove the foils and dig in!  (Optional: Squeeze lemon on pan for taste.)

(serves 4 or 2 very hungry people, based on a 14″ paella pan)

Adapted from La Paella of www.paellapans.com

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