This recipe originates from José Andrés, founding chef and co-owner of three Jaleo restaurants in the Washington, D.C., area, as well as four other Spanish and Latin-influenced establishments. Andrés feels his classically inspired paella pays homage to the bygone days when chickens were something special, and the dishes that featured them were the centerpiece of a feast.
Highly aromatic and with ample acid, wines like Godello or a fuller-bodied Albariño compliment the salty, rich and savory flavors of this paella; recommended Godello producers include Guitían and Viña Godeval; recommended Albariño producers include Pazo Señorans and Do Ferreiro.
2 chicken legs, cut into small pieces
2 tablespoons extra virgin Spanish olive oil
8 ounces seasonal whole fresh mushrooms, such as chanterelles
3 ounces green beans, cleaned and cut into 1-inch pieces
1/2 garlic clove, finely chopped
2 tablespoons chopped jamón Serrano (Spanish dry-cured ham)
¼ cup dry white wine
¼ cup sofrito (a canned tomato/onion stock available at Latin markets and fully stocked supermarkets)
4 cups chicken stock, plus additional if needed
1 pinch saffron
1 baby leaf
1 tablespoon salt
1½ cups Spanish Bomba rice, or Arborio rice
Before getting started, Andrés points out that you can add some extra vegetables, such as eggplant, zucchini, cauliflower—pretty much anything. Just make sure you sauté the vegetables after the chicken. You can also add chicken livers for extra flavor, or substitute rabbit for the chicken. Or add rabbit to the chicken.
In a paella pan, sauté the chicken leg pieces in the olive oil over high heat until brown on all sides, about 4 minutes. Remove and set aside.
Add the mushrooms to the paella pan and sauté until they are golden, about 3 minutes. Add the green beans and the garlic, and cook for 3 minutes. Return the chicken to the pan along with the ham. Pour in the wine and allow it to reduce by half, about 1 minute. Add the sofrito and cook for 3 minutes. Pour in the chicken stock and bring to a boil. Crush the saffron and add to the pan along with the bay leaf. Season with salt. Make sure it’s just a little salty, because when you add the rice the dish will balance itself out.
Add the rice, taking care to spread it evenly around the pan. Cook over high heat, stirring frequently with a wooden spoon, for 5 minutes The rice should float in the liquid in the pan. If it is not floating, add an extra ½ cup stock or water.
Reduce the heat to low and maintain a slow boil for an additional 10 minutes, until the liquid is absorbed. (Chef’s note: Do not put your finger or a spoon into the paella again or the rice will cook unevenly.)
Let the paella sit off the heat for 3 minutes. At this stage, the stock should be absorbed by the rice and there should be a nice shine to the top of the paella. Serve immediately.