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Tomato Paella with Chorizo

Remember Mark Bittman’s Paella with Tomatoes that caused me to drool all over my keyboard last week? Well, I finally made it. It was the simplicity of this dish that drew me but when I saw some Spanish chorizo at the store, I decided it wouldn’t hurt to complicate the dish just a bit.

Since I’m in Italy, arborio (of risotto fame) was my rice of choice and it turned out to be a good one. The grains were firm yet creamy, a texture I can’t get enough of. For the smoked paprika, I used a combination of hot and sweet, one teaspoon of each. This added just enough heat to make it interesting. Both types came from The Spice House and I was glad to have them both on hand!

I’ve never used Spanish chorizo (not be be confused with Mexican chorizo, which is completely different) and I thought this was the perfect dish to give it a try. The chorizo I picked up at the store was just the prepackaged Goya brand sausage. I’m sure there is better chorizo to be found but tasted good and it turned the dish into more of a main course. If you can’t find chorizo, I think any kind of precooked or cured smoked sausage would be good.

I have to say that this is by far the best rice dish I have ever made. It was also one of the easiest. Now if you don’t have the smoked paprika and saffron in your pantry already, this dish requires a bit of an initial investment. But once you try using these spices, you’ll want to use them again and again. Trust me, it’s a good investment.

Tomato Paella with Chorizo

3 1/2 C. chicken or vegetable broth
1 1/2 pounds ripe tomatoes, cored and cut into thick wedges
salt and freshly ground black pepper
1/4 C. extra virgin olive oil
1 medium onion, diced
2 large cloves of garlic, minced
1 T. tomato paste
large pinch saffron threads
2 t. smoked paprika (I used a combination of hot and sweet)
2 C. arborio rice
3-4 oz. Spanish chorizo, diced
minced parsley for garnish.

1. Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Warm broth in a saucepan. Put tomatoes in a medium bowl, sprinkle with salt and pepper, and drizzle with 1 T. olive oil. Toss to coat.

2. Put remaining 3 T. oil in a 10- or 12-inch ovenproof skillet over medium-high heat. Add onion and garlic, sprinkle with salt and pepper, and cook, stirring occasionally, until vegetables soften, 3 to 5 minutes. Stir in tomato paste, saffron, and paprika and cook for a minute more. Add rice and cook, stirring occasionally, until it is shiny, another minute or two. Add the chopped sausage and liquid and stir until just combined.

3. Put tomato wedges on top of rice and drizzle with remaining juices. Put pan in oven and roast, undisturbed, for 15 minutes. Check to see if rice is dry and just tender. If not, return pan to oven for another 5 minutes. If rice looks too dry but still is not quite done, add a small amount of stock or water (or wine). When rice is ready, turn off oven and let pan sit for 5 to 15 minutes.

4. Remove pan from oven and sprinkle with parsley. If you like, put pan over high heat for a few minutes to develop a bit of a bottom crust before serving.

Yield: 4 to 6 servings.

Source: based on Paella with Tomatoes recipe New York Times, Dining & Wine, Sept. 5, 2007

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