The saffron in this dish is worth the investment; its flavor and color takes a classic paella to the next level.
4 Smart Chicken thighs
1 tablespoon canola oil
1 red bell pepper, diced medium
1 green bell pepper, diced medium
1 onion, diced small
1 large pinch saffron
5 cloves garlic, sliced
1½ cups Valencia (or short-grain) rice
1 cup white wine
1 lemon, cut into wedges
2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
2 tablespoons fresh-squeezed lemon juice
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
1 to 2 quarts chicken stock
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
Preheat oven to 400°F. Season the chicken with salt and pepper. In a paella pan or large skillet over medium-high heat, heat the oil. Sear the chicken until golden brown on both sides. Add the onion, peppers, and garlic and sauté for 5 to 10 minutes. Add the rice and the saffron and sauté for another 5 minutes. Deglaze the pan with white wine. Reduce heat to medium and slowly add the chicken stock, two cups at a time. Simmer for about 20 minutes, stirring occasionally to keep the rice from burning (and being careful to avoid over-stirring).
Raise heat slightly and add chicken stock as needed, so the mixture has just enough liquid to cover the rice. Allow the rice to stick to the bottom of the pan just enough to create a socarrat (a caramelized crust on the rice), considered to be the best part of the paella. When the rice is almost al dente, add the herbs and lemon juice and transfer to the preheated oven for 5 to 10 minutes. Drizzle with olive oil and serve with lemon wedges.
Recipe created by Benjamin Maides, Chef, Au Courant Regional Kitchen, Omaha, Nebraska