#CoronaCooking: The Even Simpler Simplest Paella

A few years ago I posted a recipe for a simple paella—and it is simple, relative to how grand paella can get. But to be honest I rarely make that version—I make a much, much more streamlined version. To me, it’s a weeknight meal, endlessly flexible, and quick to throw together. The only required ingredients for me are chorizo (although if you’re making a vegetarian version, that’s totally dispensable too) and smoked Spanish paprika. Chicken and shrimp if you’d like, aromatics that are usually in the fridge, tomatoes in some form, herbs if you have them. You could throw in peas, green beans, artichoke hearts, asparagus—or none of the above. Use what you have. It’ll be delicious. Not bad for one pan and 45 minutes, start to finish.

The Even Simpler Simplest Paella

Serves 3-4

1 TB olive oil
4 oz chorizo—the Spanish, cured or half cured kind, not the raw Mexican kind, cut into rounds
4-5 boneless, skinless chicken thighs, cut into 1 in chunks
1/2 large onion, chopped
1/2 red pepper, chopped
2 large garlic cloves, minced
2 TB chopped parsley and 2 TB chopped cilantro, or just use one or the other, or more or less
3/4 c puréed (crushed) tomatoes
1 c rice: use Spanish Calasparra or Bomba rices or Japanese short grained rice (something like Cal-Rose or Nikishi)
3 c chicken broth or water (I used broth made with a bullion cube)
Kosher salt
1 TB and 2 tsp Spanish smoked paprika, divided

1. Toss chicken cubes with a good pinch of salt and 2 tsp smoked paprika. 

2. Heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium high heat. Add chorizo and chicken pieces. Sauté until chorizo browns a bit and chicken loses its raw color. Add onion, pepper, garlic, and herbs, along with a good pinch of salt. Sauté the whole mess until vegetables soften and turn a bit translucent. Add 1 TB paprika to pan, stir to combine. 

3. Add rice to pan. Sauté until rice is coated with oil and well combined. Add tomatoes, stir until well combined. Now add water or broth. (Depending on the saltiness of your liquid, you may want to add additional salt now.) Adjust heat so that you achieve a brisk simmer, and allow to cook, without stirring. 

4. After about 5 minutes, you can nestle the shrimp into the liquid and rice. Keep simmering, uncovered, for another 15 minutes or so. You can shake the pan occasionally but don’t stir (it makes the dish too starchy). You want to cook the dish until the rice is just tender; if the liquid gets absorbed before the rice is cooked, add 1/2 c water and keep going. 

5. Remove from heat. STIR. Allow to sit for five minutes or so, so the rice can get completely tender. Serve, accompanied by lemon wedges if you’d like.