Cuban Paella Recipe

One-pot meals are an easy way to cook—and you can celebrate National Spanish Paella Day (March 27) with a Cuban twist at the same time. I’m not sure who determines these special “days” but we can have a little fun with them.

Full of spice and exotic flavors, this Cuban take on the classic Spanish Paella is an inexpensive way to feed a group and you don’t need to round up any squid or mussels that may be part of the classic Spanish dish. And if you have any leftovers; this dish reheats well in a microwave, too.

If you’re feeling particularly ambitious, consider making a traditional Spanish tortilla (like a flat omelet or Italian frittata), suggests meat expert Bruce Aidells, who contributed this recipe to Real Food. To do this, combine 2–3 cups leftover paella with four beaten eggs, garnish with shredded Manchego cheese, and bake until just set in the middle. Cut into wedges and serve warm or at room temperature.

Cuban Paella

Serves 8

Cuban Spice Paste
14 c. Spanish or Hungarian paprika
2 tsp. minced garlic
14 c. fresh-squeezed lime juice
2 tbsp. rum (optional)
112 tsp. salt
1 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
2 tsp. chopped fresh oregano
12 tsp. ground cumin
2 tbsp. olive oil

16 chicken thighs (about 4 pounds)
1 tbsp. olive oil
2 c. chopped onions
2 tbsp. chopped garlic
2 c. Arborio rice
3 c. canned low-sodium chicken broth
1 c. canned diced tomatoes
14 tsp. saffron
2 tbsp. capers
12 c. fire-roasted red bell peppers or pimentos, cut into strips
24 large raw shrimp in their shells (optional)
2 c. frozen artichoke hearts or 2 cups green beans, fresh or frozen

1. Preheat oven to 350°F.

2. In a medium bowl, combine paprika, garlic, lime juice, optional rum, salt, pepper, oregano, cumin, and olive oil to make a homogenous paste. Toss in the chicken thighs and coat well. You can marinate and refrigerate the chicken, covered, for up to 16 hours for best flavor or, if in a hurry, proceed with the recipe.

3. Heat oil in a large, deep nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add half the chicken, leaving any excess marinade in the bowl to add later. Cook for 3–5 minutes until browned. Flip and brown other side for 3–5 minutes more. Remove and set aside. Brown the remaining eight thighs and set aside.

4. Reduce heat to medium and add onions and garlic to the pan; cook over medium heat, scraping up any browned bits from the bottom of the pan. When soft, about 5 minutes, add the rice and cook, stirring, until well coated with the onion mixture. Pour in the stock, tomatoes, and saffron and any remaining marinade. Lay in the chicken thighs. Bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer, cover, and cook for 15 minutes. Stir in capers; cover and transfer to the oven. Bake for 20 minutes. Scatter the surface of the rice with the fire-roasted peppers and optional shrimp and the artichokes or green beans. Cover and bake 10 minutes more or until the rice is tender, the liquid has been absorbed, and the optional shrimp are opaque and pink. To serve, stir the rice mixture to incorporate the peppers, vegetables, and optional shrimp.

Nutrition Info (Per Serving with chicken skin eaten): Calories 607 (236 From Fat); Fat 26g (Sat. 7g); Chol 113mg; Sodium 671mg; Carb 52g; Fiber 7g; Protein 40g

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