Arroz con Pollo
Paella is without doubt the most well known Spanish dish on the planet and if you have been to Spain you will know that there are also different versions of Paella too, but there are also some outstanding rice dishes that are just that and not Paella! Paella if you didn’t know is actually the name of the large pan that this dish is cooked in. The dish Paella itself originates in the area around Valencia where the special rice used in a Paella grows, but in other areas of Spain they also have rice dishes for example Arroz con Pollo or rice with chicken, which is cooked in the same style as Paella but is not Paella, if you get my meaning. They also come in regional varieties and are as equally tasty!
Anyway, this is not one that I have tasted in Spain, this is my interpretation of how I would imaging arroz con pollo or rice with chicken should taste!
4 tbsp olive oil
75g finely chopped shallot
5 cloves of garlic, peeled and finely chopped
1/2 tsp pimentón dulce (smoked sweet Spanish paprika)
A pinch of crushed dried chillies
200g beef tomatoes, halved
200ml tomato passata
1/2 tsp loosely packed saffron strands
400g short-grained paella rice such as Calasperra or Bomba
700 – 800gr boneless and skinless chicken thighs cut into large pieces
200gr frozen peas
First marinade the prepared chicken thighs with oil, some thyme, crushed garlic, salt, pepper and some pimentón. Over night is best but a couple of hours will do.
Grate the tomatoes using a normal grater that you would use for cheese. You will be left with the skin which you can discard.
Heat the cazuela or whatever pan you are using, I usually do this in a large flat electric pan and then pour in the marinated chicken with the oil and fry until nicely browned then remove and set to one side, left or right it doesn’t really matter.
Add more oil to the pan if need be, remove any pieces of garlic as you don’t want them to burn and add the shallot and fry gently for 10 minutes or until soft but not browned. Add the freshly chopped garlic, pimentón and sprinkle in the chili flakes and fry for another couple of minutes, then stir in the tomato and cook until they have broken down into a sauce and add the passata, about 200ml.
Stir in the chicken stock, saffron and 1 1/2 tsp of salt and bring to the boil, stirring. Now pour in the rice giving it a good stir then leave it to simmer vigorously over a medium-high heat for about 10 or so minutes.
Now place the cooked chicken over the top of the rice and shake briefly so the pieces sink in a bit and sprinkle over the peas. Lower the heat and leave to simmer gently for another 12 minutes. At the end the liquid should all have absorbed and the rice should have small holes on the surface. If the rice is still a bit hard and looks dried out add some liquid over the top, but not too much just enough to moisten it, then cover with a lid for 5 – 10 minutes.
When your rice is cooked to al dente, serve it up with some alioli.