Chicken and Sweet Red Pepper Paella Recipe – Our $5 Slow Food Challenge

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Easy Slow Food, Spanish Style — and all under $5 per person.

Several years ago, some dear friends of ours gave us a paellera pan as a gift and as the saying goes, “we’ve never looked back!” 

The Valencia inspired paella rice dish can take on several forms — and having experimented with many different versions, here are some of our secrets:

  • Rice:  the moment-of-truth hits us when we’re at the grocery store and we’re staring at the “wall of rice”.   Its mind boggling with so many different kinds of rice staring at us with that “choose me” look:  each type of rice has a specific purpose…well, other than being in our stomachs of course!

We think that two varieties of Valencian rice, Bomba or Sollana (Calasparra) work best for paella.  Bomba provides the most “authentic” texture, but can often be the most difficult (and expensive) to source.  Our local grocery stores don’t carry Bomba rice and we buy it from a specialty grocer.

Bomba is a short grain rice (center): you can really see the size difference when compared to Basmati (left) and Arborio (right).  Even going with the Bomba rice, we’re still within our budget of $5 per person.Basmati rice (left), frequently used in Indian cooking, is also used in Mediterranean pilow dishes: we’ve cooked paella using basmati rice and the texture turns out fine, but not “great”.

We’re not fans of using Arborio (right) or any of the other varieties of risotto type rice such as Carnaroli, because we think it makes the paella too “creamy” – more like a saffron infused risotto dish that can sometimes verge on being mushy.

  • the stock (liquid) to water ratio will differ — depending upon the type of rice that you ultimately use
  • Note that turmeric (for color only, it has a different flavor profile) is often used as a substitute for saffron.
  • We think that crushing and steeping the saffron directly before cooking (for 20 minutes) helps to bring out the saffron flavor (especially if one spends the money on real Spanish saffron).

Chicken and Sweet Red Pepper Paella Recipe – Our $5 Slow Food Challenge (low sodium)

Yield: Serves 4

Chicken and Sweet Red Pepper Paella Recipe – Our $5 Slow Food Challenge (low sodium)

Ingredients

  • ¼ teaspoon Saffron
  • 4 cups low-sodium Chicken Stock
  • 2 Tablespoons of Olive Oil
  • 3 cloves Garlic, pressed or pureed
  • 1 cup Onion, chopped
  • 5 Pimento (cherry) Peppers, de-seeded and chopped
  • 12 oz Chicken Breast, boneless/skinless, sliced into 1 inch cubes (roughly 1 ½ breasts)
  • 1 ½ cups Bomba rice
  • ½ teaspoon Paprika
  • Garnish:  2 Tablespoons fresh Parsley, chopped (optional)

Instructions

  1. Prepare the saffron: Place the saffron threads in a mortar and pestle. Crush the threads by “pounding” them (directly before use). Add 1 Tablespoon of boiling water to it and set aside for at least 20 minutes. The longer you leave the saffron to “steep” the better the flavor. The recommended steeping time is ~ up to 2 hours.
  2. Separately in a pot, bring the chicken stock to a boil, and then reduce the temperature to low and allow to simmer (the stock will be added to the paella pan shortly).
  3. In the paella pan, heat the oil on medium-heat.
  4. Add the garlic, chopped onion and pimentos; sauté until the onion is translucent, roughly 5 minutes
  5. Add chicken pieces and sauté until the chicken evenly cooks on all sides, roughly 5 minutes.
  6. Add the rice, heated chicken stock, saffron mixture, and paprika. Stir/blend ingredients evenly.
  7. Reduce heat to low; cook until the rice absorbs the liquid and becomes tender or al dente, roughly 25-35 minutes. Remove from heat and let sit for 5 minutes to absorb remaining liquid. If the rice is al dente and there is not enough stock in the pan, add more (hot) liquid.
  8. Once the liquid has been fully absorbed, remove from heat and serve. A layer of toasted rice may form on the bottom of the pan, referred to as socarrat; it is considered a delicacy. Optionally, garnish with parsley.
http://lowsodiumblog.com/2011/09/chicken-and-sweet-red-pepper-paella-recipe-our-5-slow-food-challenge/

The traditional method of serving paella is family style, served directly in the pan, and eaten with wooden spoons. Enjoy!

 

In case you’re wondering, here’s the cost breakdown:

Pro-Rata Cost (because some of these things we already have in our pantry)
¼ teaspoon Saffron $2.00
4 cups low-sodium Chicken Stock   2.00
(this might be the cost had we purchased it)
2 Tablespoons of Olive Oil     .25
3 cloves Garlic, pressed or pureed     .25
1 cup Onion, chopped     .75
5 Pimento (cherry) Peppers, de-seeded and chopped   2.25 (farmers market)
12 oz Chicken Breast, boneless/skinless, sliced into 1 inch cubes (roughly 1 ½ breasts)   3.75 (@4.99 lb)
1 ½ cups Bomba rice   3.00 (1/3 of package)
½ teaspoon Paprika      .25
Garnish:  2 Tablespoons fresh Parsley, chopped (optional)      .25
Total  $14.75 total (serves 4 people)
$3.69 per person
About Johanna

Johanna weaves together a love for global foods and wanderlust in Low Sodium Blog. Inspired by her foodie family, who met a number of serious health challenges and adapted to low sodium diets on a turn of a dime, Low Sodium Blog chronicles their (farm) source to table expeditions, culinary travel, low sodium recipes, healthy eating adventures, and more. She and her family live in Los Angeles, California, a great travel hub and culinary playground.

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