Tuesday, May 12, 2009

The failure of a new paella recipe

I wanted to try a "new" paella recipe that I found on the ABC website. It sounded like it should taste good, if a bit too spicy for me. The following is the recipe with the changes I made to make it less hot. It was still too hot for me though, and something was definitely not to my taste. Paella to me brings to mind the taste of saffron and short-grain rice. This recipe lacks the saffron and uses minute-rice instead, which while absorbant, isn't quite the same.

The recipe was supposed to come in under $15 and serve 4 (which explains the lack of saffron and the specialty rice). The spices used are pretty costly when initially bought, but I had them all in my pantry and, based on the amount used, my cost should still be under the $15 goal.

Paella has a long tradition in Spain, and it's a wonderful community dish that has numerous cultural variations. Chicken and shrimp paella is one of my favourite versions, but I've also made vegetarian paella too (replacing the meat with beans and adding more vegetables).

Browning chicken in oil (with the skin on) is something that takes more practice than I have. My pieces were only lightly browned, and when served, the skin was gummy and unpleasant. It would have been better to leave the chicken in the pan to crisp more before removing it to a plate. Also, I think I overcooked it. The meat itself was very tasty, but the skin ... ug.

Medium salsa is hot for me. Hot salsa is inedible. This mix is something far north of hot salsa. The depth of flavour I was expecting might very well have been there, but I couldn't taste it. I couldn't taste much of anything--even with a glass of milk and a sour cream chaser.

Without thinking, I cooked 2 cups of basmati rice beside the dish. So now I have lots of cooked basmati rice and leftover chicken (hrm... I see chicken fried rice in my near future). Regardless, here was the failure along with a few changes for next time.


  • 8 cups chicken stock
  • 2 chipotle peppers in adobo (next time I'd leave this out)
  • 1 tsp red chili flake (next time I'll reduce this to 1/4 tsp)
  • 1 tsp chili powder (next time I'll reduce this to 1/4 tsp)
  • 2 tsps extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 two-pound chicken, cut into 8 pieces
  • 1 med yellow onion, diced
  • 2 tbsps fresh ginger, julienned
  • 2 tbsps paprika
  • 2 tsp red curry powder (next time I'll leave this out)
  • 8 whole cloves garlic, peeled (next time I'll use 4 and mash them with salt & parsley)
  • 1 red bell pepper, cut into 1-inch pieces (next time I'll use 2 red bell peppers)
  • 1/2 lb kielbasa sausage, sliced into 1-inch pieces
  • 2 cups five-minute white rice (next time I'll use 2 cups short-grain spanish rice)
  • kosher salt (to taste)
  • black pepper, fresh ground (to taste)
  • saffron (to taste) (next time I'll add this in)
  • Directions

    1. In a 6 quart saucepan, combine stock, chipotles, chili flake, and chili powder and bring to a boil.
    2. Lower the heat to a simmer, and reduce the heat to minimum.
    3. In a large 12-14-inch sauté pan, heat olive oil until almost smoking.
    4. Season the chicken pieces generously with salt & pepper.
    5. Brown them carefully and slowly until the skin is a deep, dark, golden brown. Work in batches so as not to overcrowd the pan.
    6. When chicken is browned on both sides, remove it to a plate.
    7. In the same pan, add the onion, paprika, red curry powder, garlic cloves, red bell pepper, and ginger.
    8. Sauté until soft and golden brown, about 8 minutes.
    9. Add the chicken stock to the onion/pepper mixture and bring to a boil.
    10. Lower the heat and allow to simmer 10 minutes.
    11. Place the browned chicken pieces in the broth and cook for 15 minutes.
    12. Add 2 cups rice and the sausage to the pan.
    13. Bring the mixture to a boil for 5 minutes, turn off heat and let sit for 5 additional minutes, uncovered.
    14. Serve with a spring green salad.


    1. I'm sorry you weren't crazy about it! It's frustrating when the recipe doesn't come together the way you want it to. I've had that happen several times.

    2. Hi Amanda.
      Yeah, it is frustrating; but I like the concept of this recipe and feel like it *should* work. I do want to try it again (thus the posting and all the changes).