[This week I wrote about peas (and offered up some recipes) in my column Kitchen Daily. My feeling, in general, is that frozen peas work just fine in many applications, and throughout most of the year, so there’s no reason to get hung up (or feel guilty) about using them. Of course if there’s any time you’re going to use fresh peas, this is it (as long as you don’t mind shelling them). That’s especially true if you’re going to serve them solo, but, really, for a paella? I almost always use frozen and neither I nor (I think) anyone else knows the difference.]
Makes 4 servings
Time: 30 minutes
[Adapted from How to Cook Everything]
Far from a major production, basic paella is a simple combination of rice and other good stuff; terrific Sunday night dish and a staple in coastal Spain for centuries.
3 1/2 cups any stock or water
Pinch saffron threads
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
2 bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs
2 tablespoons chopped garlic
1 medium onion, chopped
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
8 ounces Spanish chorizo or other cooked or smoked sausage
2 teaspoons smoked paprika
1/2 dry white wine
1/2 cup tomato puree
2 cups short- or medium-grain rice, preferably paella rice or Arborio
1 cup peas (frozen are fine)
1 cup peeled shrimp (about 1/2 pound), cut into 1/2-inch chunks
Chopped fresh parsley leaves for garnish
1. Preheat the oven to 450°F. Warm the stock with the saffron in a small saucepan. Put the oil in a 10- or 12-inch ovenproof skillet over medium-high heat. When hot, cook the chicken until deeply browned on both sides, then add the onion and garlic, sprinkle with salt and pepper, and cook, stirring occasionally, until it softens, 3 to 5 minutes.
2. Add the chorizo, paprika, wine, and tomato purée; bring to a boil and cook for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the rice, scattering it in the pan as evenly as possible, cook, stirring occasionally, until it’s shiny, another minute or two. Carefully add the warm stock and peas and stir until just combined, then tuck the shrimp into the top before putting in the oven.
3. Put the pan in the oven and bake, undisturbed, for 15 or 20 minutes. Check to see if the rice is dry and just tender. If not, return the pan to the oven for 5 minutes. If the rice looks too dry at this point, but still isn’t quite done, add a small amount of stock or water. When the rice is ready, turn off the oven and let it sit for at least 5 and up to 15 minutes.
4. Remove the pan from the oven and sprinkle with parsley. If you like, put the pan over high heat for a few minutes to develop a bit of a bottom crust before serving.