“Cheater” Mixed Chicken and Chorizo Paella

When I was younger we went on a family vacation to Valencia, Spain and I absolutely fell in love with Paella! Every English person (being so close to Spain) will know what Paella is, but for my American friends, Paella is Spain’s national dish, and it consists of saffron rice, fresh seafood, and sometimes chicken and chorizo too. It’s cooked in a paella pan which spreads out the rice better than conventional pans to cook it through more evenly! I know i’m talking as if i’m some kind of paella expert, but actually, after trying and failing to cook it quite a few times now–I have done my research!

At the resort we stayed at in valencia, (where Paella originates from) they gave us a cooking demonstration on a classic, authentic paella, and my Mum somehow absorbed it and went home to re-create it! To this day, I think that dish was one of the BEST things she has ever cooked. I would ask her to make it for me all the time, and even though she hated {and refused to eat} every kind of seafood, she would always agree to it! My sisters and I would hover over her as she cooked, stealing some of the cooked seafood (like cockles) as she made it, so there was barely any left to put in the paella!

Anyway, because Paella is one of my all time favorite dishes in the world, and because I want to raise my own family on it too–I knew I had to learn how to make it. It’s been on my list ALL summer but I have procrastinated it to the very end because it’s just SO darn intimidating! My Mum forgot the original recipe, so I knew I would have to somehow find one that lived up to that standard! Also, I am absolutely HORRIBLE at cooking rice, which is the main component of this dish. It’s hard to find fresh seafood here in the middle of the State! :-( Paella pans are impossible to find! Then there’s the issue of how much the dish costs to make… saffron in itself is $20 at my local grocery store for a few threads. Then there’s imported Spanish Bomba rice and Chorizo and chicken and the cost of all the seafood too!

So, I decided to invent my very own “cheater” paella– one that doesn’t involve expensive threads of saffron, or even a specialized paella pan to make, but one that tastes every bit as delicious as the one my mum cooked for me growing up, that I originally tasted in Valencia! It has taken me a few attempts to get it right, but it was worth the trial and error to find one of my new, all-time favorite recipes! Seriously. This is one of the most delicious things I have ever cooked, and its so simple to make too!

1 packet saffron rice 4 chicken thighs
1 packet of seafood medley (shrimp & mussels, calamari, baby scallops) or fresh
Chorizo, cut into 1 inch pieces
salt and pepper
1 Tbsp olive oil
1 tablespoon smoked paprika
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 15 oz. can chopped tomatoes with juice
1 small onion, diced
1-2 cups chicken bouillion/stock

In a wide saucepan, heat 1 Tbsp olive oil over medium high heat. Pat the chicken dry with paper towels, and season well with salt and pepper on both sides. When the oil is hot, place the thighs skin side down for 4 minutes, or until browned.Add the chorizo to the pan. Turn the chicken over and cook for 4 more minutes, or until browned on the other side. Add the smoked paprika, minced garlic, tomatoes, minced onion and chicken bouillon. Bring to a boil over high heat
Add the saffron rice. Stir for 1 minute, then reduce the heat to medium-low, cover and simmer for 20 minutes. Stir in the seafood, making sure that the mussels are nestled seam-side down and simmer, covered for 5 minutes longer
Take the lid off and turn the temperature up to high to a boil for a minute or two. The paella is done when the rice has absorbed most of the liquid and is al dente. Season well with salt and pepper.
Serve with large lemon wedges, and squeeze lemon juice over the paella when ready to eat to really bring out all the flavors
I wish my pictures did the taste of this dish justice–because it is so divine! You have smokiness from the paprika, a little heat from the chorizo, all the yummy, perfectly cooked seafood, and then the delicious saffron rice which has taken on all the different flavors of the tomato and bouillon and fresh lemon! You don’t get much better than that. Why did it take me all summer long to discover this recipe? I should have been cooking it all summer long!

I hope you guys try this!! As far as paella’s go, it really is fool-proof, yet the results are just as amazing!
<3 Sarah