Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Paella Hindsight

So tonight I attempted a new recipe. The image capture on the recipe website I got it from made it look SO delicious, and the fancy name made it sound important. Paella. I've been walking around all week saying, Paella, just because it's fun. It also requires chorizo sausage, which also sounds important and exotic.
Well, like I've mentioned before, I am an amateur cook, at best. I can follow a recipe fairly well, but if it's not explicit, my cooking knowledge is not advanced enough to allow for much 'culinary common-sense' to take place. So this recipe was a chicken and sausage paella. It was a pretty easy, step-by-step recipe, but one thing left me confused. The first step was to "Season the chicken with salt and pepper, then place it in the skillet to brown, about 4 to 5 minutes a side". It didn't say anything about, "Till juice run clear" like chicken instructions often do...but it also didn't say anything about NOT fully cooking the chicken in the skillet. And 4 or 5 minutes per side could be enough to cook a chicken breast if it's not a very big I was at a loss. And since I am SUPER paranoid about salmonella poisoning, and not full-up enough of that 'culinary common-sense' I decided to fully cook the chicken before adding it to the pan.
Well, the recipe has great potential. The rice mixture was quite outstanding. The chicken and sausage were a bit dry due to being fully cooked before being stuck in a 400 degree oven for 30 minutes. Now that I read that back, even non-culinary common-sense should have told me that would happen, but alas, hindsight is always 20/20. I will make this recipe again, as I think it has the chance of being really great, but I will not fully cook the chicken before putting it in the oven. That should allow for a more tender and tasty meal.

Here's the recipe:
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 whole chicken, cut into 8 pieces, or 4 legs and 4 thighs
Salt and pepper
16 ounces sausage (chorizo or kielbasa) cut into half-moon slices
1 small onion, finely chopped
1 red bell pepper, finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, chopped
2 cups medium-grain rice
1/2 teaspoon cumin
1/2 teaspoon salt
Pinch of saffron
1 cup seeded and chopped tomato
4 cups chicken stock
1/2 cup frozen peas

1.Heat the oven to 400°. In a large skillet, heat the oil over medium-high heat. Season the chicken with salt and pepper, then place it in the skillet to brown, about 4 to 5 minutes a side. If needed, work in batches so the skillet isn't overcrowded.
2.Transfer the browned chicken to a plate. Add the sausage to the pan and sauté it until lightly browned, about 3 to 4 minutes. Transfer the sausage to the plate with the chicken.
3.Drain all but 1 tablespoon of fat from the pan. Lower the heat to medium, then add the onion, red pepper, and garlic. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables are tender, about 6 minutes. Add the rice, cumin, salt, and saffron. Stir to coat the rice and cook for about 1 minute.
4.Transfer the rice and vegetable mixture to an oiled 9- by 13-inch baking dish. Arrange the chicken and sausage on the rice and scatter the tomato over the top. Place the pan on the center oven rack and carefully pour the chicken stock over the meat and rice. Bake for 25 minutes.
5.Sprinkle the peas on top and cook until the liquid has been absorbed, another 10 to 15 minutes. Let the paella cool for at least 10 minutes before serving. Serves 8.

My variations:
I used 4 chicken breasts cut into 8 pieces, instead of thighs and I opted out of putting frozen peas in, as we're not huge fans of frozen peas. Also, I didn't have any saffron, so we skipped it. Not sure how much a pinch would make a difference as I've never used saffron before, but it still tasted good without. Also, the chorizo sausage was not too spicy. I think it would have been too mild if I had used Kielbasa.

Thanks for stopping by. Maybe I'll post again when I've mastered this one.

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