Paella is that classic Spanish dish that has a flavor all its own. Think it’s impossible to capture that flavor in your own home? It’s not. An easy-to-make sofrito is the key.
Paella is one of my favorite Spanish delicacies. The combination of rice, shellfish, meats and chicken is unlike anything else out there. Even risotto, which is a close relative, doesn’t come close to the smoky flavor found in a good paella. I’ve tried my hand at paella in the past, and there was always something missing. What was that something? Sofrito. According to Food & Wine magazine, sofrito is a mixture of sauteed vegetables that infuses the rice with a rich deep flavor. That flavor sent my tastebuds over the moon. This was what had been missing all these years from my paella. And the best thing about it, the sofrito only added a few extra minutes to my overall cooking time.
Chicken and shrimp paella
- 1/2 cup water
- 1/4 cup olive oil, divided
- 1 onion, chopped
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- 1 red bell pepper, chopped
- 2 Roma tomatoes, grated
- 1 tablespoon white wine vinegar
- 3 skin-on chicken breasts
- Salt and pepper to taste
- 6 cups chicken stock
- 2-1/4 cups rice
- 1 pound frozen, cooked shrimp, thawed
- 1 cup fresh or frozen peas
- Make the sofrito: Heat two tablespoons of olive oil over medium heat in a large skillet. Add the onion and cook until tender, about three minutes. Stir in the garlic, red pepper, grated tomatoes, vinegar and water. Reduce the heat to low and simmer until the liquid has evaporated and the vegetables are soft, about 15 minutes. Pour into a cup and set aside.
- Heat the remaining olive oil in a large saute pan over medium-high heat. Season the chicken with salt and pepper and cook until browned, about four minutes per side. Transfer the chicken to a plate and set aside.
- Add three cups of stock to the pan, scraping up the browned bits with a wooden spoon.
- Whisk in the sofrito and bring to a boil. Add the rice, season with salt and pepper and return to a boil. Cook for about four minutes without stirring.
- Cut the chicken into large pieces and bury it, skin side up, in the rice and cook until the stock is absorbed, about six minutes.
- Reduce the heat to low. Add the remaining stock, one cup at a time and wait until the stock is absorbed before adding the next cup. This will take 10 to 15 minutes. Continue cooking until rice is tender. Bury the shrimp in the rice and cook until heated through, about four minutes. Stir in the peas and cook for two more minutes until heated through. Serve immediately.