Inspiration: We’ve been living in the same city for about eight years now, so we’ve got our favorite haunts around town. One of those places is a wine/beer/deli/fine foods store that is just fantastic. We’ve been shopping there for years and can always count on them for good advice on a bottle of scotch, help picking out the perfect wine for whatever meal we’re making, or a sampling of all kinds of cheeses and salamis and anything else that we’re looking for. It must have been a couple of summers ago (I remember that I was pregnant at the time) that we went to a pretty awesome paella demo there where we got to sit around a Big Green Egg outside, learn how to make paella, and then sample the results. Ever since then, we’ve been hooked on the idea of making paella at home. For Christmas this past year, Brandon bought me a fantastic paella pan and all of the ingredients to finally try our hands at making paella. We’ve been honing the recipe to our liking for the past several months, and we’ve finally gotten it just right.
What We Loved: As I said, we’ve been fine-tuning this recipe, so we pretty much love everything about it. The whole dish has a gloriously rich, smoky flavor due to the smoked chorizo (we use this kind and adore it – it’s our favorite single component of the meal), the smoked paprika, and the saffron. Add to that some tender, fall apart chicken; lovely bites of sweet tomato and pimiento peppers; a wonderfully rich base of delectable rice that just soaks up all of the spices and flavors of the other ingredients; and a fresh, citrusy sprinkling of cilantro to top things off, and there’s not much else that you could ask for. We crave this weekly.
Tips: We’re waiting for the weather to warm up a little bit more so that we can make this recipe on the charcoal grill outside. That will be perfection. So if you have access to a charcoal grill, I’d highly recommend cooking it that way versus on the stove top. Also, this is not a cheap or an easy meal to make, but in our opinion, there are upsides that outweigh those factors. For one, it’s such a fun dinner to make, especially for company. And secondly, this recipe makes a lot of paella. The last time that we made this, we didn’t have any guests, so Brandon, Ben, and I ate it for five dinners straight. That stretches the dollar a bit, right? And I might add that we didn’t tire of eating it for five days in a row, either.
Chorizo, Chicken, and Tomato Paella
Source: Original Recipe
12 cups chicken stock
1.5 oz saffron
Extra virgin olive oil
2 large cloves garlic, minced
1 tomato, diced
2 teaspoons smoked paprika
2 tablespoons tomato paste
1 onion, diced
1 lb dried smoked chorizo, sliced into rounds and then into half moons
1 lb chicken thighs, diced
2.5 cups calasparra rice
4 tomatoes, sliced into thick wedges
1 8 oz jar pimiento peppers, sliced into strips
1. Heat the stock in a large pot until simmering. Toast the saffron in a dry saute pan until it begins to release its aroma. Mix the saffron into the stock and keep warm over low heat.
2. Heat the oil in your paella pan. Add the garlic, and toss to coat. Add the diced tomato, paprika, a pinch of salt, and the tomato paste. Stir together and cook for 1-2 minutes. This is called the sofrito.
3. Move the sofrito to the side of the pan. Saute the onion until it softens and begins to brown, and then move it to the side of the pan.
4. Add the chorizo to the pan, and saute until it begins to brown. Move it to the side of the pan.
5. Add the chicken to the pan, and saute until it begins to brown.
6. Add the rice to the pan. Mix everything together, and distribute everything evenly around the pan.
7. Add as much chicken stock as will fit into the pan. Season generously with salt. It is important to season well with salt at this stage, because you won’t have another opportunity to incorporate the salt. At this point, do not stir the paella any further.
8. Arrange the tomatoes in a circular fashion atop the stock. Let cook for 15 minutes on medium-high.
9. Reduce the heat to low. As the paella cooks, continue adding stock until you have used all of the stock.
10. When the stock is completely absorbed and the paella begins to sizzle on the bottom of the pan, the paella is done. Add the pimiento peppers shortly before this point, so that they have time to warm.
11. Remove from the heat and let sit for 15 minutes in order for all of the flavors to meld and for the dish to cool. It is important not to skip this step.
12. Garnish with cilantro and serve.