You’ll need a large wide pan – about 13 inches in diameter – to make a proper paella. The rice needs to absorb the stock on its own terms, not bathe in it. A vivid heady saffron is essential to this dish, otherwise you will just have chicken and rice. Cooking the chicken separately means you don’t have to worry about whether it is cooked at the same time as the rice.
12 chicken thighs or 6 chicken breasts on the bone
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
3 tablespoons olive oil
2 medium onions, peeled and sliced finely
200g spicy chorizo, sliced
2 long sweet peppers, seeded and cut in half down the middle
4 medium tomatoes, chopped roughly
4 cloves of garlic, peeled and chopped finely
1400ml hot chicken stock
2 pinches saffron threads
400g paella rice
100ml dry white wine
1 tsp smoked paprika
60g frozen peas (optional)
Flat-leaf parsley, chopped
1. Preheat the oven to 180C/350F/Gas 4. Season the chicken with salt and pepper.
2. Heat half the olive oil in the pan and fry the chicken until golden on both sides. Place the chicken on a baking dish and bake in the oven for 20-30 minutes or until the juices run clear when you pierce it with a knife.
3. While the chicken is cooking, put the rest of the olive oil in the pan and cook the onions over gentle heat until they are softened and lightly coloured. Add the chorizo, turn the heat up to medium and cook until the chorizo is golden. If there is too much oil in the pan, drain some off.
4. Cut the sweet red peppers into chunks and add to the pan with the tomatoes and garlic and cook until they are softened and the garlic is fragrant but not coloured. While they are cooking add the saffron to the hot stock and allow to infuse. (It should turn the stock yellow if the saffron is authentic.)
5. Add the rice to the pan, stirring it so it can soak up the juices. Add the white wine. Turn the heat up and cook for a minute or two. Add the hot stock and and paprika and cook over a medium heat until the rice is cooked. Don’t stir the rice and if it starts to bubble vigorously, turn the heat down. It will take between 20-25 minutes for the rice to cook (if you find the rice drying out, add a little boiling water). Add the frozen peas (if using) in the last few minutes of cooking.
6. When the rice is tender, turn the heat off and cover the pan tightly with tin foil and leave for ten minutes (covering the rice helps to seperate the grains). Remove the tin foil, place the chicken on top, sprinkle with parsley and serve immediately.
Paella Recipe tips
– If you can’t find paella rice, you can use arborio rice instead at a push. It is a small grain rice like paella rice.
– You can cook the chicken with its skin on or off.
– If you don’t use the spicy chorizo, add 1 tsp of dried chilli flakes when you are frying the onions.
How to buy authentic saffron
Many Asian shops stock saffron but you need to check that it is not fake saffron (also called ‘bastard’ saffron). Real saffron has a heady fragrant smell which is unmistakable and it dies the rice a vivid yellow – if you use fake saffron, you will wonder what this dish is all about. If you are in Paris, you can stock up on some of the best Iranian saffron in the world at Goumanyat, a spice shop in the 3rd arrondissement. They also have an online shop.
This recipe was first used in the Irish Independent Weekend magazine – thanks for their permission to use the photograph.
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