Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Moorish Paella

Back when I made my Moroccan Pickled Vegetables, I made a batch of harissa to use in them. I made way more than I needed, especially considering that harissa is spicy stuff. I use only 1 T or so at a time. I've since made a second batch of the pickled vegetables, but the harissa jar still is about half full. While I suspect I'll make a third batch of the vegetables (my neighbors love the pickled vegetables, so I make a batch and pawn at least one jar off on them every time), the harissa still isn't being used fast. So, I looked for some new recipes using harissa.

Really, I love food52.com. I put harissa in their search engine and had several possibilities. I found one that I thought my kids would eat, contained a little vegetables, and had been tested extensively (I find on websites where individual can upload their own recipes, it's best to use recipes that have been tested). I was interested in this Moorish Paella.

It ended up a little spicy. I was nervous. However, the kids ate the chicken without a problem and Isaac ate some of the rice too, which was spicier than the chicken. I will definitely make this dish again. I also was a little apprehensive how much time the recipe would make. Paella conjures up the image of hours spent watching the stove. Not the case. While this isn't a dinner in a hurry recipe, from starting to table it was just over an hour (and it could have been quicker if my chicken had been fully thawed when I started). The last 20 minutes or so are totally unattended, so I got a head start on dishes, making clean up after supper a lot shorter.

I am including a couple of changes I want to make to the recipe next time--like more cauliflower and a little less rice. I also went easy on the spice which is reflected here as well. One important note: start brining the chicken at least an hour (as long as 8 hours) before you plan to start cooking.

This serves 4 - 6 people.

Moorish Paella
adapted from NWB on food52.com

4 -6 chicken pieces---a combination of bone-in thighs and breasts, depending on your family's preference (it should all fit in one pan without touching though)
4 small or 2 large links of cured, (shelf-stable) Spanish chorizo (not Mexican for you Texans with accessibility to such things), sliced
1 small onion, diced
1 garlic clove, minced
2 T olive oil
1 small- medium head of cauliflower, cut into small, bite-sized pieces
1 t ground caraway
2 t smoked paprika
1/2 t cumin
1/2 - 1 T harissa (this is what gives the dish most of its heat)
1 1/2 c Arborio rice**
8 oz tomato sauce
2 3/4 c chicken stock (or 2 1/4 c stock plus 1/2 c dry wine)**

Sprinkle chicken generously with coarse kosher/sea salt and place in plastic bag or bowl. Put it in the refrigerator to brine at least 1 hour, or as long as a day.

Brown sausages in a large, deep skillet. Remove with slotted spoon and drain on paper towels. Brown brined chicken over medium high heat in the same skillet, adding a little olive oil to sausage fat if needed, until richly browned. Turn over and brown other side. Remove and set aside. Add onions to pan (and a little olive oil if pan looks dry) and cook for 3 minutes. While onions cook, mix together caraway, paprika, and cumin in a small bowl. Add a dash of salt a spoonful of the paprika mixture to the onion. Add the garlic and cook for a minute. Add the cauliflower and cook for 5 minutes. Add more paprika mixture.

Add 1/2 c chicken stock or wine. Scrape bottom of the pan to get browned bits off and cook a couple of minutes. Add the sausage and harissa and stir well. Add tomato sauce and cook for 5 minutes. If you want, add a little more spice mixture (I think I may have added a little here--not much). Add the rice and stir in. Spread rice and onion mixture evenly over bottom of the pan. Lay the chicken on top of the rice. Carefully pour in the remaining 2 1/4 c of chicken stock. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer 20 -30 minutes, until rice is cooked and chicken is cooked through. Turn off heat, let set 2 - 4 minutes (about the time it takes to get everyone to the table), and serve.

**Original recipe called for 3 c chicken stock added to 2 c Arborio Rice.

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