Enjoy a taste of Spain at home with this One Pot Chicken and Chorizo Paella.
Paella is one of those dishes that brings back fond childhood memories. When I was young, my dad took an assignment in Spain and I remember eating seafood paella. Walking down cobbled streets, we’d look in the shop windows and see what all the shop owners were selling. I remember the warm milk that we’d drink with lots of sugar because it tasted so bad – it was probably healthier than the milk we got back home, but tasted different from what we were used to.
Although I’m sure Spain is very different today than it was 40 years ago, the aroma of paella cooking away still brings me back to that visit.
A number of years ago, I taught myself how to make authentic paella, even purchasing a few paella pans in the process. Traditional paella is cooked on the stove top to begin with, finished in the oven, then set aside for a few more minutes to finish cooking the rice. Onions and bell peppers serve as the main aromatics, smoked Spanish paprika and saffron are the key spices, bomba rice is the best rice to use, and chicken broth or seafood broth are the cooking liquid of choice.
For company, I make paella the authentic way – it makes a stunning presentation. But, for everyday, I know I can get away with this stovetop version, inspired by a recipe I spotted on Cooking Light. Using chicken and sausage is a less expensive alternative to seafood, which I save for company or special occasions.
In this stovetop version, seasoned boneless chicken breast is lightly browned first, then the aromatics are sautéed along with some chorizo sausage, before the rice is added. Finally, chicken broth and seasonings are added (I removed the chicken while the rice cooked and added it back at the end to prevent it from drying out) and the pot is set to low, simmering away until the rice is nearly done. Green peas brighten up the final dish.
For an authentic paella, try to find Bomba “Calasparra” rice, which is grown in cool flowing water around the town of Calasparra in Murcia. Calasparra rice has a Denomination of Origin status, and is supposed to be denser, more absorbent than regular rice, so it’s perfect for absorbing the flavorful broth in paella. I bought mine from Tienda.com a while ago and dug it out of my pantry.
- 1 pound boneless chicken breast, cut into 1½" pieces
- 1 teaspoon dried thyme
- salt and fresh ground pepper
- 2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
- 1 pinch of saffron
- 2 links chorizo sausage (I used Niman Ranch nitrate-free, antibiotic-free, hormone-free), sliced
- 1 medium onion, chopped
- 1 red bell pepper, chopped
- 3 cloves garlic, chopped
- 1½ cups uncooked Bomba rice, arborio or medium grain rice
- 1 medium tomato, chopped
- 1 teaspoon Spanish smoked paprika
- 3 cups low-sodium, fat-free chicken broth
- 1 cup frozen green peas, thawed
- Season chicken pieces with thyme, salt and pepper.
- Heat 1 tablespoon oil in a large pot on medium heat. Add chicken pieces and saute until lightly browned; remove to a plate,
- Place saffron in a small bowl and cover with a little water.
- Heat remaining tablespoon of oil in pot. Add sausage, onion, pepper and garlic; saute until onions are translucent. Add rice and saute another 2 minutes. Add tomato, paprika, chicken broth and saffron with soaking liquid. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to low and cook, covered, for 20 minutes.
- Add chicken pieces back to pot and sprinkle in peas. Cover and continue to cook another 10 minutes on low, stirring gently a few times to make sure bottom doesn't burn.