Want a simple one-pan skillet dinner? Make this version of Paella Valenciana. Seriously. If there’s ever been a simple dish so wrapped in mystique with so many rules other than Paella, I don’t know what it is.
If you want a “world-class” Paella, follow them all. If you want a fabulous supper, keep reading. Yeah, we’re gonna break a few rules and get you a fantastic dinner. Maybe for Valentine’s Day?
About Paella Valenciana:
Paella Valencia, which is just one type of Paella, is in essence, a skillet dinner. Sometimes it’s done outdoors, and in Spain is made in a special pan. That pan is called a Paella, so that’s where the name of the dish comes from.
In Spain, you might find Paella Valenciana filled with all kinds of ingredients that many in the States aren’t normally exposed to, don’t have available, or are too pricey if they are. That could be chicken, duck, snails, and/or rabbit. There might be special rice and Spanish piquillo peppers. And there may be green beans and garrofó, which are similar to our Lima bean.
I’m keeping this Paella Valenciana “local” with simple ingredients that are easy to get here in the States and don’t have to be imported or hunted down. No wraskly wabbit and def no snails – I only wish I were that sophisticated. And btw, I’m not the first to tinker. Think of two great dishes already served in the States that have some similarities: Spanish Rice and Jambalaya.
So this Paella includes chicken, roasted red peppers, artichoke hearts, and rice. The Spruce has a great article on choosing the right rice for Paella. The one pricey item I would absolutely advise you to get is Saffron. A little goes a long way and while it’s considered one of the priciest of herbs, don’t let that deter you. It’s so light and it really is a great “bang for the buck” ingredient.
Making Paella Valenciana:
If you can make any skillet dinner, believe me, you got this. Paellas follow a basic formula you probably already know: brown meat, set aside. Add aromatics, then the rice. Add the liquid, put the meat back in, and simmer for about 20 to 25 minutes. There are a few little simple touches, but thay ain’t no big thang.
Be sure to roast, peel and slice your red bell pepper before starting the dish. This recipe calls for half of a bell pepper; the other half can be stashed in the freezer for another dish.
Storing and Reheating the Paella:
As with any rice-based dish, the rice can get just a bit dry when refrigerated. Try adding just a touch of water when reheating. If refrigerated promptly, this will last for three to four days in the fridge.
Paella is a perfect meal prep recipe! It freezes well. Put a piece of plastic wrap directly on the chicken and rice.
- This dish is already a good for your budget version of Paella. Sticking to basics and using what is local is a good strategy; one people have been using for ages!
- You can buy Saffron at Costco now, around six bucks for a cute little jar (I prefer Penzeys, though) or shop for saffron bargains online. Lower grades, which usually are broken threads, are cheaper. Then you can lovingly dole it out thread by thread in your various dishes. It really doesn’t take much saffron to totally bring the flavor home. In a real pinch, sub in turmeric which will give a lovely color but unfortunately, you’ll be missing the flavor of the saffron.
- Total Time: 1 hour
- Yield: 8 servings 1x
- Category: Main
- Cuisine: Spanish
- 5 cups chicken broth, divided
- 1/2 teaspoon saffron
- 1/2 to 1 teaspoons salt
- 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 4 tablespoons oil
- 8 boneless chicken thighs, trimmed, rolled smooth side out and secured with a toothpick, if desired.
- 1 large onion, chopped finely
- 4 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 large tomato, seeded, peeled and diced or grated on a box grater
- 2 cups short to medium-grained rice
- 7 ounce can plain artichoke hearts, drained
- 1 half red bell pepper, roasted and sliced into strips (you may wish to roast the whole pepper and freeze the other half) see note at bottom of page
- A few small rosemary sprigs, optional
- Smoked paprika for sprinkling
- 2 green onions, thinly sliced for garnish, optional
- Lemon wedges for serving, optional
Measure out four cups of broth and place in a bowl large enough to hold it.
Heat a small pan over medium-high heat. Add saffron and toast for just shy of a minute, watching closely, and leaving it in just until you begin to smell it. Immediately remove from pan and crush in a mortar, using a pestle or place saffron in a small bowl and crush between your fingers.
Add saffron to the broth, along with salt to taste and pepper. Taste. The broth will flavor the whole recipe and you’ll want to overcompensate just a bit with the salt and flavoring, keeping in mind the broth will be flavoring all the rice.
Heat about two to three tablespoons oil in a paella pan or large skillet over medium heat, then add the chicken pieces, rough side down (it helps them to hold together in a “roll”) and cook until golden brown. Turn over and continue to cook for several minutes, adjusting the thighs in the pan as needed, until the tops and sides are golden brown. Remove to a plate.
Add the onions and cook until soft and translucent, 7 to 8 minutes, then add the garlic. As soon as the garlic becomes fragrant, add the rice. Stir for several minutes until rice becomes a little toasted. Add a little more oil if needed.
Add the four cups of broth and use a spatula to run across the rice, slightly evening it out. Do not stir. Add the chicken pieces back in, along with any juices, placing them how you’d like to see them in the finished dish. Place the drained artichoke hearts around the chicken, then add the strips of bell pepper. Place a few rosemary sprigs on top, if using.
Simmer uncovered for about 20 to 25 minutes or until the rice is done, rotating and moving the pan as needed to provide heat to the pan in all areas. You may need to moisten the paella in several areas by slowly ladling in a bit of the reserved broth.
When rice is done (test carefully in several places, trying not to disturb the top too much) you may need to turn up the heat a little to form the socarrat. That’s the crispy, browned crust that should be forming at the bottom of the pan. Stop when you smell the rice “toasting” and when you hear a few “crackly” noises but before you smell any actual burning, and remove from the heat.
If the rice and chicken seem a little dry, cover the pan with a clean towel for just a minute or two. Sprinkle with smoked paprika, garnish with green onions and serve with the lemon wedges, if using.
Make sure to remove toothpicks or warn your guests to do so. A thin metal spatula makes an ideal serving tool, allowing one to scrape up the socarrat along with the rice.
To roast red bell peppers:
- Quarter bell peppers from the stem to the end, discarding ribs and seeds. Place on a foil-lined sheet tray about four or five inches from broiler. Broil on high for several minutes, checking often, and remove as needed. When removed, place in a small bowl and cover with a clean towel.
- After the peppers have steamed for around 5 minutes (or longer) peel off the skin.
Keywords: Bell Peppers, Chicken, Chicken Thighs, complete skillet meal, Freezes Well, Green Onion, Meal Prep, Paella, Rice, Saffron, Tomatoes.
I’ll be linking up this week at Fiesta Friday #209, hosted this week by Monika @ Everyday Healthy Recipes and Laurena @ Life Diet Health.
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