Easy Chicken Paella
I am by no means a paella expert. Here’s what I did, here’s how the recipe came about, we loved it, and I will be making it again and again.
With that said, here’s how I stumbled into having to try my hand at a centuries-old Spanish dish with no clue about where to begin.
I’m an avid runner and on a warm Saturday afternoon I ran by a local artisan grocery store and there was a man, Luis, making paella on the sidewalk in a huge paella pan over an open fire. I stopped because the smell was amazing and he asked me if I wanted to try some. I said I didn’t have any money with me because I was just out running and he said, no it’s free. In San Diego, nothing is free except the sunshine and this very generous portion of paella.
It was beyond excellent. The rice was perfectly tender and scented with saffron, there were red bell peppers and onions for flavor and texture, and the chicken was soft and moist. I knew I had to recreate it so went home and started researching paella online. I came across a million different recipes and ways to make it and every one was different and one more confusing and complex than the next. I almost gave up.
Until I was running the next weekend and Luis was outside again making paella. This time I picked his brain about how to make it and what he did. He explained the steps to me and that’s how I made this paella with a few tweaks of my own including scaling down the recipe from massively huge to large family-sized.
You can use chorizo or you favorite seafood including shrimp, mussels, lobsters, or clams. Since I didn’t make it that way, I can’t give specific cooking times and when within the process of the rice cooking you add the ingredients and all seafood cooks at a very different rate. If using chorizo, I’d treat it as I treated the chicken here.
I don’t have a paella pan and used a large skillet. Bomba Rice is essential and rather than buying saffron, Luis recommended I use a packet of Paellero. Super easy. The paella was ready in about 45 minutes, far exceeded my expectations, my family raved about it, and I’m really glad I challenged myself to make this recipe. You never know until you try is the advice I always give my readers and I’m glad I took my own advice.
Easy Chicken Paella
The rice is perfectly tender and scented with saffron, there are red bell peppers and onions for flavor and texture, and the chicken is soft and moist. I don’t have a paella pan and used a large skillet. Bomba Rice is essential and rather than buying saffron, he recommended I use a packet of Paellero. The paella is ready in about 45 minutes, far exceeded my expectations, my family raved about it, and you’ll want to make it again and again.
- 4 tablespoons olive oil, divided
- 1 large sweet Vidalia onion or yellow onion, diced small
- 1 red bell pepper, trimmed, seeded, and diced small
- 3 cloves of garlic, pressed or finely minced
- about 1.25 pounds boneless skinless chicken breast, diced into bite-sized pieces, seasoned with salt and pepper
- 1.1 pounds Bomba Rice (about 2 1/2 cups)
- 4 cups (32 ounces) low-sodium chicken broth
- 1 packet Paellero (contains garlic, salt, paprika, corn flour, pepper, clove, saffron)
- one 15-ounce can petite diced tomatoes
- 1 cup water (or additional chicken broth), as necessary
- 1 cup peas (I used frozen that I added straight from freezer)
- 1/4 to 1/3 cup fresh flat-leaf Italian parsley, minced
- salt and pepper, to taste
- lemon wedges, for garnishing
- To a large skillet (15+ inches in diameter if possible) or paella pan, add 2 tablespoons olive oil, onion, pepper, and sauté over medium-high heat until vegetables begin to soften and lightly caramelize, about 5 to 8 minutes; stir intermittently.
- Add the garlic and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute; stir intermittently. Remove the sofrito (the onion, pepper, and garlic) from the pan; set aside.
- Add the remaining 2 tablespoons olive oil, chicken, season with salt and pepper, and cook the chicken until it’s about 50% cooked through, stirring and flipping intermittently. Remove from the pan; set aside with the sofrito.
- Add the rice and cook to toast the rice for about 3 minutes, stirring intermittently.
- To the chicken broth, add 1 packet Paellero, and stir to combine. Add the chicken broth to the rice.
- Add the sofrito and chicken back to the skillet, add the tomatoes, 1 cup water, and simmer over medium-low heat for about 20 to 25 minutes or until rice is tender, chicken is cooked through, and liquid is absorbed. If necessary, you may need to add more than 1 cup water (or chicken broth) based on the texture of the rice. Taste it near the end of the cooking period and if it’s too firm and all the liquid is absorbed or nearly so, add a bit more water using your judgment.
- Add the peas, parsley, stir to combine, and cook for 1 to 2 minutes to warm through.
- Taste the paella and add salt and pepper, if necessary, to taste. The saltiness of the chicken broth, tomatoes, whether you used Paellero, and personal preference for salt and pepper will dictate how much to use. I used about 2 teaspoons salt and 1 teaspoon pepper.
- Garnish with lemon wedges and serve immediately. Paella will keep airtight in the fridge for up to 5 days or in the freezer for up to 4 months.
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