Friends were coming for supper last night and my oven shorted out, so I had to get creative. I had to find a dish that could be cooked in a limited number of pots, wouldn't be labor intensive, and was nearly fool-proof. Besides, I was staying at a friend's house and didn't have my cookbooks, so I did a quick web search and turned up a winner.
Paella is one of those versatile dishes native to Spain with dozens of permutations. After looking at several recipes, I came up with my own version, a little of this and that. The dish was fragrant and savory. The rice was moist, the chicken was tender, and each bite was infused with wonderful flavor. One of its virtues is its versatility. Seafood can be added or deleted. Vegetarians can eliminate the meat and add more vegetables. Chorizo can be replaced with hot or sweet Italian sausage or even kielbasa. The next time around, I'm going to add more spice, but my recommendation is to taste it before serving and adjust accordingly. We ended up adding some hot sauce, which was just the extra amount of heat we wanted. Regardless, the flavor is excellent.
1 tbsp olive oil
14 oz. chorizo
1 medium onion, chopped
1 red pepper, chopped
1 green pepper, chopped
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1 tsp. paprika or pimenton
2 cups short or medium grain bbrice
1 pinch saffron threads
1 bay leaf
3.5 cups chicken stock
1 cup white wine
1.5 lbs. chicken breasts cut into chunks or whole chicken, split
1/2 cup frozen peas
1 tomato, chopped
coarse salt and pepper
1 lb. shrimp with tails on
10 mussels (optional)
10 clams (optional)
1 tsp. thyme
1 tsp. cumin
1. Mix together paprika, cumin, rosemary, thyme, salt, and pepper and sprinkle on the chicken chunks. Let it marinate in the refrigerator for at least 1 hour.
2. Heat oil in a large Dutch oven or deep pot. Add chorizo,chicken and the spice mixture and cook until browned. Drain excess oil.
3. Add onion, red and green pepper, garlic. Cook, stirring until softened.
4. Add rice, saffron, tomato, and bay leaf. Stir to combine and coat the rice.
5. Add chicken stock and bring to a boil. Stir to blend flavors. Cover. Cook for approximately 20 minutes.
6. In the remaining 10 minutes, add the peas and shrimp. Bury the shrimp deep into the rice and stir. Take a paper towel, place over the pot opening, and put the lid on.
7. When the rice is tender, let the dish sit for a minute in the pot before serving. Serve on a platter with lemon wedges.
Serves 4-6 people.