Posted: Apr 29 2014
The weather took a rapid turn towards summer yesterday afternoon and I found myself staring at a defrosted pack of chicken, uninspired by the obvious choice for what to do with it. I had one hour until dinner and BBQ chicken just wasn’t feeling like the thing to do. With no time to marinate and no desire to heat the house further by turning on the oven, I turned to my cookbooks to get the ole’ gears moving in my head.
It worked like a charm. I happened to have nearly everything in the house for Pared-Down Paella with Peas, Clams and Chorizo (from Mark Bittman’s excellent Food Matters - an insanely user-friendly and truly useful cookbook for days like these). I mean, except for the clams and peas… and red peppers. BUT I had chicken! So what if this wasn’t a recipe for chicken? Last time I checked, chicken likes rice and onions and saffron and paprika.
My version went something like this:
Adapted loosely from Mark Bittman’s Pared-Down Paella in The Food Matters Cookbook
The perfect recipe for when you don’t want to use the oven. And any old skillet or dutch oven will work too… no paella pan required!
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 4-8 ounces Spanish chorizo or other smoked meat, cubed
- 1 yellow onion, chopped
- 1 teaspoon smoked (or sweet) paprika
- Salt & Pepper
- 2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
- 1 cup brown rice
- A pinch of saffron
- 2 cups cherry tomatoes
- 1/2 cup chopped fresh parsley
- Lemon wedges
Put the oil in a large, deep skillet or dutch oven and heat to medium-high on stovetop. Add chorizo if using and cook, stirring occasionally, until fragrant and lightly browned (3-5 minutes). Add the onion and paprika and cook until onion turns translucent, another 3-5 minutes.
Meanwhile, cut the chicken into 1 inch pieces and season with salt and pepper. Add to onions and turn heat to high, browning chicken briefly on all sides. Add the rice and stir until the rice is glossy and completely coated in oil. Add 1/2 cups of the tomatoes and 2 cups water. Stir, adjust the heat so that the water boils gently, and cover.
Cook for 20 minutes and remove cover. Check for doneness and if rice is still firm, add another 1/2 cup of water. Leave lid off for remainder of cooking. If you want a crispy soccarat (And you do - that’s the rice that gets cooked on the bottom of the pan, giving the dish a crunchy and slightly charred component) continue to cook the paella without stirring until you smell the rice getting toasty. Turn off the heat and add the parsley and remaining tomatoes. Cover and rest for a few minutes to let the flavors meld. Serve with lemon wedges and a bright, citrusy rosé. Delicioso!