Paella: The Ultimate One-Pot Dish

6:11 AM

I confess - I am a messy cook! The boys' play kitchen is in better condition than what our kitchen looks like after I tackle dinner. I read once the secret to a happy kitchen is to clean and put away as you cook. I don't know about you, but I can barely hold it together with several pots bubbling away on the stove while reading a recipe and pushing the littlest one away from open flame all at the same time.

That is why I gravitate toward one-pot meals for everyday dinners. Not only is there less to clean-up, but the stress-level comes down a notch when I only have to worry about one cooking vessel and not having to be in the kitchen the whole time. Chili, soup, and tagines are wonderful one-pot meals in my book. Then I came across a paella recipe in Mark Bittman's Food Matters: A Guide to Conscious Eating. Make this and you will want to trade all your sauce pans, stock pots, roasting pans for a paella pan.

Adapted from Mark Bittman's Food Matters: A Guide to Conscious Eating

3 1/2 cups chicken broth, plus more if needed
Pinch saffron threads
1 lbs ripe tomatoes, cored and cut into thick wedges
Salt and freshly ground pepper
3 tbs olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped
1 tbs tomato paste
2 tsp paprika
3 oz chorizo, cut into 1/4 inch pieces
2 cups white rice
6 large peeled shrimp
2 boneless chicken thighs, cut into 1/2-inch chunks
1 cup fresh or frozen corn
Chopped fresh parsley leaves for garnish

1. Heat the oven to 450 degrees F. Warm the broth and the saffron in a small sauce pan. Put tomatoes in a medium bowl, sprinkle with salt and pepper, and drizzle them with 1 tbs olive oil. Toss to coat.

2. Put the remaining oil in a 12-inch oven proof skillet over medium-high heat. When oil is hot, add onion, sprinkle with salt and pepper, and cook stirring occasionally until it softens (3-5 minutes). Stir in tomato paste, paprika and chorizo and cook for a minute more.

spicy chorizo gave the dish some heat but not too much

3. Add the rice and cook, stirring occasionally until shiny (1-2 minutes). Add the warm broth and stir until just combined, then stir in the shrimp, chicken and corn.

Tomato wedges made this dish extra meaty

4. Put the tomato wedges on top of the rice and drizzle with juices that accumulated in the bottom of the bowl. Put the pan in the oven and bake, undisturbed, for 15-20 minutes. Check to see if the rice is nearly dry and just tender. When rice is ready, turn off oven and let it sit 5-15 minutes.

5. Remove the pan from the oven and sprinkle with parsley. Optional: put the pan over high heat for a few minutes to develop a bit of a bottom crust before serving.

The Good: Quick and easy. Did I mention this is made in one pot?

The Bad: Not an authentic paella, but we still loved it.

Grade: A. A rice dish packed with delicious veggies and protein. The boys asked for seconds!

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