Chicken Paella

Chicken Paella

Paella is so good, so exotic, and so showy.  It makes a great meal to serve to guests because the presentation is so beautiful, but it's still pretty easy to make.  Those are the good parts about this recipe.  The bad parts are that you need a special pan, special rice, and special spices, but once you make this I think you will agree it's worth it.

First you need a paella pan.  It should be carbon steel and, for this recipe, 15" in diameter.  They are not hard to get.  Kitchen specialty stores, Amazon, Bed Bath & Beyond, etc. carry paella pans, and the 15" size is the most common.  Second you need special rice.  Calasparra rice is the most popular paella rice and that's what I used for this recipe.  Calasparra rice is available on the internet and at specialty grocery stores like Fresh Market.  I get mine from Amazon.  Now you need saffron.  Saffron is unbelievably expensive when you consider how much it costs per gram but it's not so bad whey you realize you use so little in a recipe.  Again, saffron is available from specialty grocery stores and the internet and again I get it from Amazon.  Lastly you need a large even heat source.  We are lucky enough to have a smooth top stove with a very large burner that covers almost the entire pan but some people make paella on their gas or charcoal grill and that seems to work well.   

3 cups Calasparra rice
9 or 10
boneless skinless chicken thighs
8 cups
chicken broth or stock
frozen green beans cut into 1" to 1" pieces (don't use french style green beans as they cook too fast)
2 large
chopped onion (you can also add a cup of mixed red and green peppers that have been seeded and cut into slivers if you like)
2 tsp (total)
smoked paprika
1 tsp salt
1 tbl
minced garlic
2 6" sprigs
fresh rosemary, with the leaves stripped from the stems and finely chopped
20 threads saffron
2 lb olive oil

Cut the tomatoes in half around the waist.  Scoop all the seeds and jelly out that you can with a small spoon.  Put a cheese grater in a bowl and use the large holes.  Put the cut side of the tomatoes against the grater and grate until all you have left is the skin of the tomatoes and all the juice and pulp is in the bowl.  Add 1 tsp of the smoked paprika, the salt, garlic, rosemary, and saffron to the tomato juice and pulp mixture and set this aside.  Heat the stock to almost boiling and keep it hot.

Sprinkle smoked paprika over the chicken thighs.  Add the olive oil to the pan and turn the heat to high.  When the oil just starts to smoke put the chicken thighs in and cook them until each side is browned.   The chicken thighs do not need to be cooked all the way through as they will finish cooking later on.  When the thighs are browned, move them to the outside of the pan.  Add the onions and green beans (the green beans can still be frozen at this point) to the open hole in the middle you just created, and cook for 4 minutes, stirring occasionally.  Now add the tomato juice and pulp mixture and cook for 4 minutes, stirring occasionally.   Take the thighs out an place them on a plate.  This is important because if you leave the thighs in, some rice will invariably stick to the top of the thighs in the next step, and it will not cook correctly.  Add the rice and cook for 1 minute.  Put the chicken thighs back in, turn them pretty side up, and spread them evenly around the pan.

Now turn the heat down to medium low and add 4 cups of the stock.  Since it is already hot it should start simmering almost immediately.  Adjust the heat so that the stock stays barely at a simmer.  Let this cook for 12 minutes.  Now add 2 cups more stock and let this come to a simmer and keep this at a very low simmer for another 12 minutes.  Add 1 more cup of stock and turn the heat down so that the stock barely bubbles. Cook until the stock is absorbed/evaporated.

Take the paella off the heat, cover with a towel, and let it rest for 15 minutes.  Serve.