Some dishes are an event in themselves. Paella is one such classic, in part because of its riot of bright colors: yellow Valencia rice, burnt-orange saffron, green peas, and red sausage. Like risotto, paella requires its own rice. Valencia is traditional, but any Spanish rice that’s medium-grained and not too starchy will do. Look for it in the Latin American or international foods section of the supermarket.
While a two-handled paella pan is traditional, it is not necessary to buy one for this dish. A three- or four-quart heatproof, ovenproof casserole or Dutch oven-type pot will work just as well. If necessary, you can also brown the meat in a pan, then transfer it to a separate oven-proof casserole.
- ¼ cup olive oil
- 2 pounds chicken meat, dark and light, on the bone with the skin intact, cut through the bone into smaller segments of breast and thigh meat
- Fine sea salt
- Freshly ground black pepper
- 1 pound fresh, Spanish-style chorizo sausage, cut crosswise into coin-size rounds
- 1 onion, diced (about ½ cup)
- ¼ teaspoon saffron threads, soaked in ¼ cup hot water for 10 minutes
- 1 cup Valencia or other Spanish rice, picked over
- 2½ cups homemade chicken stock or low-sodium, store-bought chicken broth
- ½ cup fresh green peas or defrosted frozen peas
1. Preheat the oven to 350°F.
2. Set the paella pan over medium heat. Pour in 2 tablespoons of the oil and let it get nice and hot. Season the chicken with salt and pepper, add it to the pan, and brown it all over; about 8 minutes. Transfer the chicken to a platter and set aside.
3. Add the remaining 2 tablespoons oil to the pan. Add the sausage slices to the pan and brown them for 3 to 4 minutes. Add the onion and cook until softened, about 4 minutes.
4. Return the chicken to the pan. Add the soaked saffron threads with their liquid, the rice, and broth, stir, and bring to a boil over high heat. Lower the heat and let simmer over low heat for 5 minutes. Transfer the pan to the oven and bake for 20 minutes.
5. Remove the pan from the oven. Stir in the peas, return the pan to the oven, and cook for 2 more minutes.
6. Serve the paella from its pan or a festive serving dish or bowl. Present it with a large spoon so people can take the heaps they’ll want.
Nutritional information is based on 1/8 teaspoon added salt per serving.