Paella is Spanish for “Really really delicious”

I almost put an expletive in my post title.  But I restrained myself.  For the children.

This is just a quickie post.  More of a recipe review than a true cooking post because this dish came to me from the pages of the latest Rachael Ray magazine.

Shiny children, may I present to you: Crock Pot Paella

Paella is one of those many dishes that pop up in every country of ever that trace their origins to hard working peasants who want something warm, satisfying, and easy to throw together at the end of the day (or mid-day.  Mid-day meals are big with peasants, right?).  Something that feeds a crowd.  If you think of it, I bet you can come up with a couple of these dishes from all corners of the globe.  Globe-corners.

Paella is from Spain.  It is full of spice and delight.  It took minimal work on my part and came out looking extremely fancy and tasted like spicy little angels were singing on my shoulder.  I am including the recipe below with my own annotations.  No offense to Rachael Ray.

Ingredients:

  • Extra Virgin Olive Oil (I refuse to call it EVOO.  Typing it just now doesn’t count)
  • 2 lbs boneless, skinless chicken thighs, cut into bite sized chunks
  • 3 tsp smoked paprika (divided)
  • 2 cups short-or medium-grain rice, such as Arborio
  • One 14.5 ounce can petite diced tomatoes
  • 1 cup low-sodium chicken broth
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine (I used a chardonnay that I had on hand.  Lush.)
  • One 8 ounce package cured chorizo, thinly sliced (I had a 6 oz package, and used Spanish chorizo.  People who are in the know about such things tell me that Spanish chorizo and Mexican chorizo are entirely different beasts, so make an effort to find some legitimate Spanish chorizo in honor of those hard working Spanish peasants who started this whole thing).
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, finely chopped (I probably used 5 cloves.  Because: garlic)
  • A pinch saffron (The original recipe claims this is optional.  It is not.  Saffron is more expensive than gold but it is worth buying a tiny envelope of this stuff.  You basically use it a pinch at a time and it adds complex flavor and amazing color to whatever you use it in)
  • 1 tablespoon salt (seems like a lot.  It works though)
  • 2 cups thawed frozen peas
  • 1/2 cup chopped flat-leaf parsley
  • 1 lemon, cut into 8 wedges (I am not a “squeeze lemons onto my food” person, but believe me when I tell you that you should probably go ahead and buy that lemon to squeeze over your Paella.  Plus to looks extra fancy to have a little bowl of lemon wedges at the table with your giant vat of Paella)

Instructions:

  • In a large skillet, heat the olive oil and add in the chicken chunks in a single layer.  Sprinkle them with a bit of salt and pepper, then 1.5 tsp of the smokey paprika.  Your kitchen already smells like heaven.  Turn those puppies periodically until they get a bit browned (~5 minutes).  Side note here: thanks to the paprika it is nearly impossible to tell “golden brown chicken” color, so I settled for “Somewhat cooked on the outside” and used the 5 minutes as my guide.
  • Transfer the chicken to the crock pot with a slotted spoon (leaving the juices in the pan) then add in the uncooked rice, onion and garlic.  The original recipe called for just tossing the onion and garlic into the crock pot, but I don’t truck with non-sauteed onion.  Especially when I already have a pan going.  When I do this recipe again (and I will) I will probably also sautee the chroizo slices to give them a bit more crispiness.  Back to the rice.  Stir the rice over medium-high heat for about 3 minutes.  The original recipe says “until golden” but again, the paprika makes that determination nigh impossible.  Just go for about 3 minutes.
  • Dump the rice/onion/garlic into the crock pot with the chicken and add the rest of the paprika, the saffron, the salt, the chicken broth, the wine, and the tomatoes.  Stir well.  Cook on high for 2 hours or until the rice is tender.  My rice still had a bit of al dente bite to it by the end, but maybe that’s because the shortest setting on my crock pot is 4 hours?  Hard to say.  But the traditional dish is actually supposed to form a crust of rice at the bottom of the bowl during cooking, so we deemed the al dente-ness acceptable.
  • Stir in the peas, cover, and let sit for another 10 minutes to let the peas heat through (and, in my case, finish thawing).
  • Serve family style to many hungry people with fresh chopped flat-leafed parsley and those lemon wedges.  We also had crusty bread on hand and an Italian rosé because we are pretending to be fancy wine people.

This serves a lot of people.  We fed 6 in total, 5 of whom took seconds, and I still had enough in the pot for two lunches.  It is just as good heated up for lunch the next day, especially if you tuck a couple lemon wedges in your lunch box…

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