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IN THE KITCHEN

Paella With Chicken And Sausage
updated: May 31, 2014, 12:00 PM

By Rosie Sullivan

Paella is a famous Spanish rice dish that is often made with chicken, seafood, or both. It includes different combinations of vegetable and meats and is characteristically seasoned with saffron but my spare change doesn't go to buying fancy spices. Paella is traditionally cooked over an open fire but can easily be done in an oven.

Now, the first time I made this dish it was a complete disaster. Ok, maybe not as bad as that. It was still tasty but, thinking that the rice was not cooking, I kept adding water which ultimately ruined the rice and made it mushy. So, note to those who have not made paella before and might try it - a crispy top layer could form which traps liquid underneath. Don't be fooled into believing the rice isn't cooking. Rather, scoop under that layer to see what lies beneath.

Here is a recipe for Paella with chicken and sausage:

Ingredients -
Olive oil
2 chicken thighs, with bone and skin
Salt, pepper
1 onion, chopped
2 tbsp minced garlic
½ pound Spanish chorizo or smoked sausage
2 cups white rice, rinsed
2 tsp smoked paprika (pimenton)
½ c dry white wine
3 plus cups of broth (chicken, beef, or vegetable) or water
1 c chopped red bell pepper
Parsley to garnish

(My first time making this, I discovered that the pan I use is not deep enough to hold as much as the above recipe calls for. So I adjust, using 1 -1/2 cups rice and 2 or so cups of stock or water.)

Steps -

1.Turn oven on to 450 F. Using a large ovenproof skillet, heat the oil. Then add the chicken, sprinkle with salt and pepper.

When the pieces are deep brown and release from the pan, turn them, sprinkle with more salt/pepper, and cook on the other side! It takes 10-15 mins. You could easily add 2-4 more pieces of chicken without changing your recipe (if your pan is large enough). I've also used chicken breasts instead of thighs and it works just fine. When cooked, remove chicken from the pan and set aside.

2. Lower the heat a bit and add the garlic, onions, and chorizo.

Stirring occasionally, cook until the vegetables are soft and the meat is a bit crispy (5 mins or so). Add your rinsed rice and stir, cooking until the rice looks glossy and smells toasty. Then stir in the paprika and add the wine.

3. Pour most of the stock over the rice and tuck in the chicken!

Carefully transfer the skillet to the preheated oven and bake - do not disturb! - for 15 minutes.

Check to see if the rice is dry and just tender. If not, put the timer on for another 5-10 mins. If it's dry but not cooked fully, add a little liquid - maybe ¼ c and bake for 5 more mins, repeating as necessary.

This last part always gives me the most trouble and frustration. For some reason the rice never turns out quite right. The last time I made paella, I determined it must be the pan; I don't own a paellera - a traditional paella pan - so I make do with a cast iron pan. A paellera is a round and flat pan that is only an inch or so deep, thus allowing the rice maximum contact with the bottom of the pan. My pan is much too deep to allow even cooking of the rice so some parts are mushy and other bites are crunchy. Oh well, it still tastes delicious even if it is not how it is 'supposed' to be.

4.When the rice is ready, stir in the bell pepper and add seasoning to taste. Return the pan to the oven. Turn the heat off and let the paellas sit for about 10 minutes.

5. When ready to serve, try giving the paella a crust (considered a delicacy by Spaniards, called socarrat). Put the pan over medium- high heat until the rice sizzles slightly and begins to smell toasted. Don't burn it; this should only take 2-3 minutes. Garnish with parsley and enjoy!

Sidenote - this is definitely not a hot weather dish; your whole house/apt will heat up from having the oven on at 450 for more than 30 mins.

Variation:
Vegetarian paella - skip the chicken, sausage, and peppers. Add two pounds tomatoes, cored and cut in wedges. Put on top of the rice and liquid before transferring the pan to the oven

 

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