10 minutes of prep, chock full of flavour and a complete meal in one pan. This is a fast midweek meal made using every day ingredients.
Spaniards will probably turn their nose up at this dish. A real Paella is loaded up with seafood and made with homemade fish stock. I only make that on special occasions. I especially love to make a huge pan of it on the outdoor grill because it’s a great way to feed a lot of people. And it’s something a little different to the usual steaks on the grill :).
This is a midweek Paella. Which means it’s easier and much faster to make than the “real thing” plus I’ve snuck in spinach to make it a complete one pot meal.
The key to this flavour packed meal is the chorizo. All the other ingredients and flavourings are based on the assumption that you use chorizo so if you don’t use it, you will need to adjust the quantities of other flavourings (I’ve included this in the notes). I really do encourage you to use chorizo though. You can get it at all supermarkets nowadays. Obviously the better the quality, the better the flavour of this dish. Good chorizos have a very intense flavour and when you fry them up, they release the flavoured oil which then flavours all the other ingredients you cook with it and forms the base of the flavour of the whole dish.
I make my paella using Spanish paella rice which is called Calasparra. It is a short grain rice with low starch and high absorption. If you don’t have this, substitute it with normal medium grain rice. The next best substitute is long grain rice (typically used in salads and pilafs because they don’t stick together), then short grain rice (used in sushi because it is sticky). Risotto arborio rice should only be used as a last resort as it will make the paella creamy and……well, risotto like! The recipe assumes you use Calasparra rice so if you don’t, please refer to the notes because you will need to make a slight adjustment to the amount of rice you use (Calasparra and risotto rice are more absorbent than other rices).
The other big benefit of this dish is that it is great eaten the day after – unlike risotto which is pretty horrid (unless you turn it into Arancini Balls which I’m sharing soon!) The photo at the top was taken straight off the stove. The photo above was taken the day after. I refreshed it by sprinkling on fresh parsley, a light sprinkle of paprika and a drizzle of olive oil.
Love to hear if you try it!
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- 350 g / 12 oz chicken thigh fillets , cut into 8 pieces
- 180 g / 6oz chorizo , the best you can afford. I like to use a spicy one. (Note 3)
- 1 small brown onion , diced
- 1 small red capsicum / bell pepper , roughly diced
- 2 cups (packed) shredded spinach (optional - see Note 1)
- 2 garlic cloves , minced
- 1 can (400g/14oz) crushed tomato
- 1 1/2 cups chicken stock/broth
- 1/3 cup frozen peas
- 1 tsp paprika
- 1 cup spanish calasparra rice (Note 2)
- 1 1/2 tbsp parsley , finely chopped
- Salt and pepper
Cut chorizo into quarters vertically, then slice into 0.5cm / 1/3 inch pieces.
Season chicken with salt and pepper.
Heat olive oil in pan over high heat. Add chicken and sear each side until golden brown, but not cooked through. It will finish cooking with the rice. Remove chicken from the pan onto a plate and set aside.
Place garlic, onion and chorizo in pan. The chorizo will release oil so you don't need extra oil. Stir and cook for 1 minute until the chorizo starts to brown.
Add capsicum, then stir and cook for 1 minute until chorizo is dark golden brown.
Add rice and stir until coated with the oil.
Add chicken stock, tinned tomato, spinach, half the peas and paprika. Stir gently to mix, bring to simmer then turn down heat to medium high so the stock remains at a gentle simmer.
Place the chicken into the pan, mostly submerged.
Cook, without stirring, for 10 minutes. Then scatter the remaining peas over the top and continuing cooking for a further 5 minutes until most of the liquid is absorbed and the rice is cooked but it should still be slightly firm (al dente).
Remove from heat and let stand for 5 minutes. Any residual liquid will be absorbed while it is resting.
Scatter with parsley and serve.
1. The spinach is optional. It is not in real paella, I added it to make this a complete meal. You can substitute fresh spinach with a 250g/8oz packet of frozen spinach. Defrost, squeeze out excess water then place bits of spinach around the pan after you add the rice and stock, before you put the chicken in.
2. Spanish calasparra rice is a type of rice that is highly absorbent and is not starchy. If you do not have calasparra rice, the best substitutes (in order of preference) is normal medium grain rice, long grain rice, short grain rice, then lastly, risotto rice. If you are using medium, long grain or short grain rice, add an extra 1 tbsp of rice (because they are less absorbent). Note that the texture of the paella will be slightly different depending on what type of rice you use.
3. The chorizo is a key part of the flavour base for this dish. If you do not have it, the best substitute is bacon (diced). If you make this with bacon, you will need to make the following adjustments to the recipe: add 1 tbsp olive oil before cooking the onion and garlic. Add 1/2 tsp paprika when you add the stock to the rice. Also adding a pinch of chilli powder is optional (because chorizo is mildly spicy). If you make this without chorizo or bacon, you will also need to add 1/2 tsp salt when you add the stock.
4. Different brands of rice can have different levels of absorbency. So it is good to keep a kettle of boiled water handy in case you need it. Do a taste test when the liquid has been absorbed and if the rice is still too hard, drizzle some hot water over the rice and let it continue cooking until the rice is al dente.
5. This makes enough for 4 hungry people or 5 normal servings. The nutrition analysis assumes 5 servings.