Ah, springtime. It’s perfect weather for sitting outside and enjoying a cold beverage. One of my favorites is sangria. I mean, wine + fruit… what’s not to like? And what should you be eating with your sangria? How about paella?
Paella is a traditional Spanish rice dish. It can be made with a variety of different proteins, but an essential ingredient is saffron. Saffron is often cited as being the most expensive spice on earth. It is actually the stigmas of the crocus flower and has to be harvested by hand. Saffron adds a warm depth of flavor to dishes as well as a yellow-ish hue.
Paella is usually made in a very large pan over a heat source. I do not have a paella pan, so I like to make it in more of a risotto-style. While not exactly traditional, you get all of the same flavors with a little less hands-on cooking. Let the oven do the work for you while you sip on a glass of sangria!
4 cups chicken stock
1/2 teaspoon crumbled saffron threads
Coarse salt and freshly ground pepper
2 pounds chicken, cut into 1-2″ chunks
1 pound of large shrimp, peeled and deveined
1 teaspoon pimenton (smoked Spanish paprika)
2 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil
12 ounces chorizo, sliced 1/8 inch thick on the bias
1 onion, finely chopped or pureed in a food processor
4 garlic cloves, minced
3 medium tomatoes, coarsely chopped (or 1 14-ounce can of diced tomatoes)
2 cups Spanish bomba or Arborio rice
1 cup frozen peas
1 lemon, cut into wedges, for serving
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Warm stock, saffron, and 1/2 teaspoon salt in a saucepan over medium heat. Season chicken and shrimp with 2 teaspoons salt, 1/2 teaspoon pepper, and the pimenton. Heat oil in a 14-inch paella pan or a high-sided ovenproof skillet (I used a dutch oven) over high heat. Brown chicken for about 5 minutes; transfer to a plate.
Cook chorizo over medium-high heat until lightly browned, about 2 minutes. Add onion and garlic. Cook until soft, about 5 minutes. Add tomatoes. Cook, stirring, until thick, about 5 minutes. Stir in rice, then add broth mixture. Bring to a boil. Cook for 2 minutes, stirring often. Add the chicken and bake in the oven for 15 minutes. Stir in the shrimp and peas and bake for an additional 10 minutes or until the chicken and shrimp are cooked through. Let rest for 5-10 minutes and garnish with lemon wedges before serving.