As we approach Passover, I like to enjoy dishes that would be off limits during the holiday. One of my favorites is a chicken and sausage paella.
Paella is a hearty, pan-sautéed Spanish meal. It is usually made in a steel paella pan, but I’ve adapted the recipe to work in a 12-inch skillet, sauté or fry pan. It’s untraditional but delicious.
I’m not so flexible about the rice. To get something close to a true paella, you need a rice that will absorb a lot of flavor. If paella rice from Spain is unavailable, use Arborio, an Italian risotto rice.
Cooking paella is a variable experience. You need to judge how done the rice is and gauge the soupiness of the dish as it cooks because of differences in ingredients and cooking equipment. This is one recipe where the cook needs to make a lot of judgment calls.
Skillet Chicken and Sausage Paella
2-4 Tbs. olive oil, divided
1⁄2 lb. sweet or spicy Italian turkey sausage, sliced in 1⁄2-inch segments
1 lb. boneless, skinless chicken thighs, cut in half
4 cups chicken broth
1⁄8 tsp. saffron threads, crushed
1 large onion, finely chopped
4 cloves garlic, minced
2 large carrots, finely chopped
2 stalks celery, finely chopped
2 medium tomatoes, finely chopped
4 Tbs. minced parsley, divided
1⁄2 tsp. salt
1⁄4 tsp. ground black pepper
1⁄4 tsp. red pepper flakes
1⁄4 tsp. ground cumin
2 cups Spanish or Arborio rice
1⁄2 cup dry white wine
8 medium asparagus stalks, cooked but still crisp
1 medium tomato, cut into 8 wedges
1⁄4 tsp. smoked or regular paprika
eggplant sauce (see below)
In a 12-inch skillet, fry pan or sauté pan, heat 1 Tbs. oil over medium-high heat and brown the Italian turkey sausage. Remove sausage. Brown chicken in pan, adding oil if needed. Remove.
In a separate pot, combine broth and saffron. Bring to and keep at a simmer. Add oil to the skillet if needed and sauté onion and garlic until softened, stirring up any browned bits at bottom of pan. Add carrots and sauté until just beginning to soften. Add celery, sauté for a minute, and add chopped tomatoes, 2 Tbs. parsley, salt, pepper, red pepper flakes and cumin. Cook, stirring occasionally until softened.
Add 1 Tbs. oil and stir. Add rice, toss well and sauté for 2 minutes. Add wine, stir, and then add 3 cups of the hot broth. Stir occasionally and bring to a simmer. Cover, then lower heat as low as possible to maintain simmer (stirring occasionally to prevent burning), until rice is soft on the outside but still a bit hard at the center and the mixture in the pan is still a little soupy. Add broth as needed as it cooks if it gets too dry.
Arrange chicken and sausage on rice with any accumulated juices and broth if needed. Cover. Cook for 3 minutes. Add broth if dry. Arrange asparagus and tomato wedges around pan. Sprinkle with paprika. Cover and cook until chicken and rice are almost cooked through, probably just a few minutes more. Keep covered and remove skillet from heat. Let stand 5-10 minutes until rice and meats are done. Sprinkle with parsley. Serve with eggplant sauce.
Eggplant sauce: Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Cut 1 lb. eggplant into two long halves. Place cut side down on oiled baking tray. Roast about 25 minutes or until very soft. Let cool, scrape out flesh, chop and mix with 1⁄2 cup plain hummus, 1⁄4 tsp. smoked or regular paprika, 1⁄8 tsp. cumin and 1⁄8 tsp. salt.
Faith Kramer is a Bay Area food writer. Her columns alternate with those of Louise Fiszer. She blogs at www.clickblogappetit.com. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.