Chicken, chorizo and shrimp collide into this Spanish Paella! Every mouth-watering bite of this rice based dish will leave you begging for more!
Walkways full of people on their evening “Paseo”, restaurants opening for dinner at 10pm, bars luring pedestrians in with free tapas, and a tall, cool glass of sangria. That’s right friends, we’re traveling to Spain today!
Spain has a very close place in my heart, and specifically Madrid. While I was studying for my undergraduate major(s) in International Studies and Spanish, I did a short term study abroad in Madrid, Spain in the summer of 2011. And I loved every minute of it. The laid-back culture, the beautiful Parque Retiro, the vast selections of Spanish hams, the local sweet shops, the gorgeous wrought iron apartment balconies, and the bountiful wine and sangria.
Studying abroad there was one of the best experiences of my young life and I’ve been dying to go back ever since I left it 4 years ago. I loved getting to learn about the culture by just experiencing it as a local (or as well as a college student studying abroad could). I learned my way around the city, had the metro map memorized, and visited all of the important places around the city.
(I wish I could share all 5983402935895 of my Spain photos with you!)
In my recent nostalgia I was inspired to create a dish that celebrated the Madrid that I know, love, and miss.
Paella. Paella is Spain’s national treasure of food (or at least one of them!). It is made many ways, including mix-ins of chicken, mussels, chorizo, jamon serrano, shrimp (with their heads still attached), squid, and much much more! It often throws together little bits of leftovers from other meals into a rice base and allows the mixture to cook together into what is the fabulous paella.
Paella even calls for special tools and ingredients. One of which is saffron. The second is a special pan dedicated just for the making of paella. The dish is large and very shallow with two handles at either end to maneuver it. One is seen below! (Which if you are interested in is from paellapans.com). The purpose of the large, shallow pan is to allow the maximum amount of rice to become crispy at the bottom. This crunchy bottom is considered the creme de la creme of the meal, so naturally they had to invent a pan to get as much of it as possible!
Now, if you are like me, you do not own a paella pan. Tragic, but so is the life many of us live. To compensate, I just used a pot with the biggest base I had to try and mirror the Spanish tradition. Secondly, if you are like me, you don’t have the cash to spend on saffron threads. They are just ridiculously expensive! Instead, I flavor the paella as closely to saffron as I can with paprika and turmeric for color.
While those two factors make it slightly less traditional, it still remains every bit as delicious! The rice is nice and tender and infused with the flavor of wine, chicken broth, tomatoes and aromatic spices. Every bite gives you something new; be it a piece of chicken, a slice of chorizo, a chunk of tomato, or a succulent shrimp. It really has something for everyone!
It is a fantastic meal to make for groups and is light enough to eat in the summer, but filling enough for the winter months too!
I love sharing this recipe with you! Oh, and if anyone wants to share a paella pan with me, that’d be cool too 😉
- 2 tbs olive oil
- 2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into bite-sized pieces
- 1/3 lb Spanish spicy (picante) chorizo
- 1 medium white or yellow onion, diced
- 4 cloves garlic, minced
- 3 cups rice, soaked in water for 10 minutes and then drained
- 2 large tomatoes, cut into bite-sized pieces
- 1 can peas, drained and rinsed
- 1 cup Pinot Grigio (or another white wine)
- 1 cup chicken broth
- 2 tsp paprika
- 1 tsp chili powder
- 1/2 tsp ground cayenne pepper
- 1/4 tsp turmeric
- 1 lb. shrimp, peeled and deveined
- In a large pot, heat olive oil over medium heat. Add chicken and chorizo and saute until chicken is cooked throughout, about 5 minutes. Remove chicken and chorizo from pan, leaving grease in the bottom of the pan. Set the chicken and chorizo aside.
- In the pot, add the onion and saute for 3 minutes or until beginning to soften. Add garlic and rice to the pan. Saute rice mixture an additional 3 minutes. Add tomatoes, peas, wine, chicken broth and spices to the pot. Bring to a boil then reduce heat to low and allow paella to simmer for 10 minutes without stirring the pot.
- After 10 minutes, add reserved chicken and chorizo back into the pot and stir into the mixture. Place shrimp on top of the paella, cover, and allow to cook until the shrimp are pink and cooked throughout, about 5-10 minutes.
- Serve paella warm. If mixture becomes too dry, add in additional wine or chicken broth.
- 1. I bought the chorizo for my dish at a local Wegman's store. Many larger chains with specialty ingredients should carry it.
- 2. While at the store, be sure to pay attention to the different kinds of chorizo that are sold. There is a Mexican chorizo which is similar in color but is a sweeter sausage (it may be labeled as "dulce" or "sweet" chorizo). The authentic Spanish chorizo (and the one required in this dish) is a spicier sausage made with large amounts of paprika and will be labeled as "spicy" or "picante".
- 3. Don't be tempted to stir the rice every moment while it is cooking. In Spain, the rice that is burnt to the bottom of the pan is a treat and is fought over. Keep it authentic by not stirring, just shaking the mixture occasionally.