Chicken Paella with Green Olives
Delicious Sofrito to the Crunchy Socarrat
1.5 lb of chicken thighs (about 4 chicken thighs, skin-on, bone-in)
salt and pepper
2 plum tomatoes, peeled and grated
3 cups chicken stock
2 tbsp olive oil
1 onion, minced
1 head of garlic, minced
1 red bell pepper, minced,
2 tsp smoked paprika
1 1/2 cups short-grain rice (Bomba or Arborio)
1 pinch saffron
1/2 cup dry white wine (e.g. Chardonnay)
1/3 cup pitted green olives, sliced cross-sectionally
1/2 cup frozen peas
Take 1.5 lb. of skin-on bone-in chicken thighs (about 4 thighs), and season with salt and pepper. Take 2 plum tomatoes, peel off the skin, and grate it into a large bowl or plate.
In a medium saucepan, add in 3 cups of chicken stock. Turn on to medium heat and let it come to a simmer.
In the meantime, on a different burner (while the chicken stock is coming to a boil), take a wide and shallow pan (e.g. 12-inch stainless steel skillet) and heat it over high heat (avoid using non-stick pans). Add in 2 tbsp of olive oil, and when the oil is hot, add in the seasoned chicken thighs, skin-side down. Brown the skin-side for 5 minutes. Turn it over and brown the other side for another 5 minutes. Remove the chicken from the pan.
Add in 1 onion, finely minced, 1 head of garlic, finely minced, the 2 plum tomatoes that were peeled and grated earlier, 1 red bell pepper, finely minced, and 2 tsp of smoked paprika. Sauté this mixture until they are softened and the water has boiled off, about 10 to 12 minutes, and it turns into a delicious sofrito. Add the chicken pieces back in, skin-side up, together with any juices that may have collected. Sprinkle in 1/3 cup of pitted green olives that have been sliced cross-sectionally, and 1/2 cup of frozen peas.
Then add in 1 1/2 cups of uncooked short-grain rice, either Bomba or Arborio rice. Stir the rice in a bit, just until all the rice grains are moistened with the sofrito. Then sprinkle in a pinch of saffron. By now the chicken stock should have come to a boil. Add in the 3 cups of boiling chicken stock as well as 1/2 cup of dry white wine (we use Chardonnay).
Continue cooking on high heat for 15 minutes. Do not stir any more moving forward. This is to keep the grains of rice separate and prevent it from getting mushy. Keep an eye on the rice and liquid levels. If it starts to look too dry, add in additional chicken stock 1/4 cup at a time as needed.
After 15 minutes of simmering on high heat, rotate the pan so the heat and liquid get evenly distributed, turn the heat down to medium, and continue cooking for another 10 minutes, until the rice is almost done ("al dente") and still a bit moist.
Turn off the heat, cover with a lid (or aluminum foil if you don't have a lid), and continue to cook the paella in its own steam for another 10 minutes. Taste the rice, and add additional salt and pepper to taste, as needed.
Serve it in the pan. There should be a thin crispy layer of toasted rice stuck to the bottom of the pan - this is known as "socarrat". Enjoy!