Paella is a classic Spanish dish of rice and seafood that was traditionally made by men. Using a large pot, they cooked it over an orange and pine wood-burning fire that would let off an aroma that infused the dish with more flavor.
This recipe is a much easier alternative to the classic technique, yet still produces a dish that is wonderful to present at the table.
Adapted from Faith Durand's "Not Your Mother's Casseroles."
- ½ teaspoon saffron threads
- 1 tablespoon hot water
- Olive oil
- ½ pound smoked chorizo, sliced into ½-inch thick coins
- 2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken thighs, cut into bite-size pieces
- 1 large onion, diced
- 1 green bell pepper, cored and diced
- 1 red bell pepper, cored and diced
- 6 cloves garlic, minced
- 2¼ cups Arborio or other short-grain white rice
- One 28-ounce can diced tomatoes, drained
- 1 cup white wine
- 4 cups low-sodium chicken broth
- 2 teaspoons salt
- Freshly ground black pepper
- 1 pound small shrimp, peeled and deveined
- ½ pound mussels, cleaned
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
- Smoked paprika, for garnish
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Crumble the saffron threads into a small bowl and pour the hot water over them. Let them soak while preparing the meat.
Put a 5 or 6-quart Dutch oven or other large stovetop-to-oven pot with lid over medium-high heat and add a drizzle of olive oil. When the oil is hot, add the sausage and cook until browned on both sides, about 6 minutes. Remove and set aside. Add the chicken pieces and cook for another 10 minutes, or until the chicken is light golden brown, turning and stirring as they brown (do this in batches, if necessary). Remove the chicken and set aside with the sausage.
Add the onion, bell peppers, and garlic to the drippings and fat left behind in the pan, and turn the heat down to medium. Cook, stirring frequently, for 5-10 minutes, or until the onion is tender and translucent and the garlic is golden. Add the rice and stir and cook for another few minutes.
Add the tomatoes and turn the heat to high. Cook, stirring, for about 2 minutes, then add the white wine, chicken broth, and saffron mixture. Stir in the salt and a generous amount of black pepper. Bring to a simmer, then stir in the browned chicken and sausage.
Bake, covered, for 30 minutes, or until the chicken is cooked through. Rinse the shrimp and pat them dry. Season lightly with salt and pepper. Uncover the paella dish and add the shrimp and mussels, arranging them evenly in the rice and pushing them down a bit. Bake, uncovered, for an additional 10 minutes, or until the shrimp are pink and the mussels have opened. Discard any unopened mussels.
Drizzle the finished paella with melted butter and dust lightly with smoked paprika. Serve immediately.