Paella with Chicken, Red Peppers & Green Beans
This recipe serves four and works well in a 14 inch to 16 inch pan. To make a paella with more servings in a larger pan, scale up the ingredients proportionately by using our recipe sizing guide.
The recipe may look long, but that's only because it explains all the little tricks that will give you success. It involves 1 hour of preparation plus 20 to 30 minutes cooking time. If you don't feel like prepping fresh artichokes, you can substitute with frozen artichoke hearts. Just add them to the paella pan along with the rice.
- 4 1/2 cups chicken broth; more if necessary
- Pinch saffron threads (about 20 threads)
- Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
- 4 chicken thighs, chopped in half across the bone with a meat cleaver
- 1 red bell pepper, cored, seeded, and cut in 1-inch wide strips
- 1 small whole head garlic; plus 6 medium garlic cloves, peeled
- 2 artichokes, trimmed down to the hearts and quartered (optional)
- Small handful green beans, trimmed
- 1/2 onion, grated on the largest holes of a box grater
- 1 tomato, halved horizontally and grated on the largest holes of a box grater to get a coarse purée (discard the skin)
- 1/2 teaspoon pimenton
- 1 1/2 cups medium grain rice
- 1/4 cup cooked or canned chickpeas, drained (optional)
- 2 lemons, cut in wedges
Heat the saffron broth:
In a medium saucepan, bring the broth to a boil; lower to a simmer Toast the saffron gently in a dry skillet or toaster oven (just until aromatic, 1 to 2 minutes; don't let them burn). Crumble the threads in a mortar or between your fingers, and add to the broth. Taste and add salt if necessary (it should be very well-seasoned, salted as if it were a soup). Remove from the heat until you're ready to add to the rice.
Saute the chicken and vegetables:
Season the chicken pieces generously with salt and pepper. Pour the olive in a 16-inch paella pan. Over medium high heat, sauté the chicken until browned, 10 to 15 minutes. Transfer to a platter.
Reduce the heat to medium low. In the paella pan, cook the red pepper and head of garlic until the peppers are completely limp but not brown, 15 to 20 min. Transfer the peppers to a plate (leave the garlic in the pan) and cover with aluminum foil. Add the artichoke hearts (if using) to the pan, and after 5 min., add the green beans. Sauté until the artichokes are tender and the green beans are soft and wrinkled, about 10 min.
Meanwhile, peel the skin off the red peppers. Transfer the green beans and artichokes to a plate.
Make the sofrito:
Increase the heat to medium and sauté the onion until softened, about 5 min. Add the tomato, pimenton, and the six garlic cloves, season with salt, and cook, stirring often, until the mixture has darkened to a deep burgundy and is thick like a compote, 15 to 20 min. If it starts to stick to the pan or burn, add a little water to the pan. If not cooking the rice immediately, remove the paella pan from the heat. (This tomato-onion-garlic mixture, called a sofrito, is the flavor base for the paella.) You may make the paella several hours ahead up to this point.
Add the rice and cook:
About a half hour before you're ready to eat, bring the broth back to a simmer and set the paella pan with the sofrito over your largest burner (or over two burners) on medium high heat. Add the rice, stirring until it's opaque, 1 to 2 min.
Spread the rice in the pan, put the head of garlic in the center, and pour in the hot broth. Shake the pan a bit to make sure the rice is evenly distributed. Arrange the chicken, artichokes, red peppers, and green beans in the pan. If using chickpeas, distribute them on top. Do not stir the rice from this point on. Simmer vigorously, moving the pan over one and two burners to distribute the heat and to cook the rice as evenly as possible. When the rice is at the same level as the liquid, after 8 to 10 min., reduce the heat to medium low.
Continue to simmer more gently, rotating the pan as necessary, until the liquid has been absorbed, about 10 min. more. Taste a grain just below the top layer of rice; it should be al dente, with a tiny white dot in the center. (If the rice is not done but all the liquid has been absorbed, add a bit more broth or water to the pan and cook a few minutes more.)
Create the socarrat:
Increase the heat to medium-high and, rotating the pan, cook for about 2 min., until the bottom layer of rice starts to caramelize, creating the socarrat. The rice will crackle, but if it starts to smell burned, remove the pan from the heat immediately.
Let the paella rest:
Remove the pan from the heat. Cover loosely with foil or a clean kitchen towel and let the paella rest for 5 min. to even the cooking and let the flavors meld.
Set the paella pan in the center of a round or square table. Remove the foil and invite people to eat directly from the pan, starting at the perimeter, working toward the center, and squeezing lemon over their section, if they want.