It’s not Paella. And it is not Arroz con Pollo. It’s what happens when you grow up in Miami then move elsewhere and concoct something inspired by Cuban-Spanish flavours and live nearer to Spain (Scotland is technically closer). Paella purists will tell you it will never have chorizo. And anyone from the Caribbean will insist your arroz con pollo be made with peas, Sazon spice mix, and include that magic secret ingredient Bijol (which is just annato powder to give colour and substitute expensive saffron). Unless of course you are cheating with that South Florida diet staple Vigo yellow rice (I miss it!).
What this is, is a regular at my table, as any of my friends who visit frequently can tell you. Once you get the knack it’s super easy, super fast, and can feed you for days, depending on size and hunger of your co-habitants.
- Olive oil
- 1 large onion, chopped
- 1 bell pepper (I like yellow, orange or red for this)
- garlic (a few cloves chopped)
- 500-ish grams chicken*
- 240-ish grams milder chorizo ring
- 500g Arborio rice (paella rice)
- Spices: smoked paprika, turmeric, thyme
- 1 chicken stock pot (I like Knorr) or 1/2 litre chicken stock
- 200ml white wine
- Pimiento-stuffed green olives
*Note on chicken: use what you want with the following in mind: breast is healthiest but will dry out and isn’t as nice reheated (you WILL have leftovers); boneless thigh works very well here and reheats well; thigh on the bone also stays lovely and moist, tastiest fresh, but a bit messier to eat – this is most like traditional arroz con pollo though! If you do on the bone, cut it off the bone to store leftovers.
- Prep: Boil some water and add your stock pot to a small pitcher, pour in about 600ml water and saffron, crushing the threads in your fingers. A little saffron goes a long way, I suggest about 5-6 threads but use what you like/can spare. Set aside to steep while you get on with veg prep. Chop onion & pepper; slice chorizo into small coins; chop chicken into large chunks (if using boneless). I keep them large so they don’t dry out – about the size that if you cut it in half it will be two bites.
- Sautée onions and peppers in some olive oil until soft, then add garlic. Feel free to add more garlic if you want, but I tend to keep it mild for this dish (especially if I’ve made up some garlicky guacamole for friends to start). Season it at this point too – add a generous amount of smoked paprika (1-2 tbs) and about 2 tsps of turmeric, and 1 tsp dried thyme. I NEVER measure though. You could use a paella spice mix, or Adobo for the Americanos, but they often have additives I like to skip in favour of the pure stuff. Give it a good stir, it should look a lovely orangey-yellow.
- Add chicken, and a bit more seasoning (paprika especially). If using on the bone, add skin-side down and leave til it gets nice and brown, then turn over. Otherwise, just allow the outside of each piece to cook – you don’t want it to be cooked through yet.
- When chicken is cooked a bit on outside, add chorizo and stir so it begins to cook a bit. Let it visit the bottom of the pan.
- When chorizo begin to look like it is starting to be cooked (just a couple minutes really), add your paella rice and give everything a nice stir, so your rice gets coated in all the oil and spice released in the pan. Add more spices if you need.
- Add your prepared stock, then ‘rinse’ the pitcher with 200ml white wine and 200ml more water. Add to pan and stir.
- Now add about 3-4 heaping spoons of the olives. You want a good balance between plenty and whoa that’s too many. DOn’t worry if brine splashes in, that’s tasty and part of your salt. Speaking of…
- You’ll note I haven’t added any salt. Don’t. The chorizo, olives, and stock pot have plenty, and you can salt to taste when you eat it if needed.
- Bring this to a bubble, then cover and turn all the way down to simmer for about 20 minutes, until rice is cooked through. If you find it still seems a bit wet, you can crank the heat and cook uncovered a few minutes at the end. It should be a rather wet but tasty mix anyway, a bit like risotto but a lot less effort.
- Give it a good stir before serving up in big warm comforting bowls.
Leftovers: Unless you are feeding 4-6 hungry friends, you’ll have plenty leftover. I usually just microwave it in bowls (not all at once), and it’s still pretty good. Might be better reheated in a pan though, with a splash of water if needed. And yes British friends, YOU CAN REHEAT RICE. Most of the world does this, and I’ve never heard you couldn’t till I moved here. Stop it.