Chorizo Challenge and Updated Paella Recipe

Chorizo Challenge and Updated Paella Recipe

The entire reason I started dry curing sausage with a Spanish Chorizo recipe was simple. I love paella. I plan on making and eating lots of paella. And while I have a brand of Spanigh Chorizo I like, I wanted to make this dish even more my own, and use my own sausage.

The question was whether or not my chorizo would hold up to the brand I buy. Let's meet my competition.

Palacios Chorizo is imported from Spain, made without preservatives, no nitrates/nitrites, no starter cultures, just pork, paprika and garlic. It's good. Let me clarify, this sausage is very good. So I wanted, more than anything, to make a chorizo that could compete. Let's take a look side by side.

On the left, my homemade chorizo, on the right, Palacios.
 I don't know if it's the curing salt I used or the paprika, but my homemade sausage was not as vibrantly red as the Palacios, and I could tell by touch it wasn't as firm.

Left, my homemade slices, right, Palacios slices.
Comparing the slices side by side, the difference in red hue is intensified. It also looks like my grinding was finer than Palacios and that I may need more fat in my sausage next time. To be fair, my sausage did come out of the fridge while the Palacios was room temp, but the differences are easily perceived visually. Taste wise, my homemade was spicier than the mild chorizo, and while the texture was meatier (since it was softer) the flavor of pork was sweeter and cleaner in the Palacios.

So, round one goes to the bought, imported sausage. Next weekend I'll see how they compare when I get a little extra drying on the rest of my chorizo. I'll be curious to see what differences there are. Honestly though, I was pretty darn close with my homemade this time, and it was still delicious, so I decided to use both chorizos in tonight's paella dinner.

Boozy Epicure's Updated Paella Recipe
Serves 4
A part of me feels bad calling this and updated recipe, I've honestly been playing and changing it up every time I make paella, but here's what I did tonight.

8 oz Spanish chorizo (I mixed my homemade and Palacios)
4 boneless/skinless chicken thighs
1/2 tsp saffron threads (maybe a half gram, you don't need a lot)
1 tsp smoked sweet paprika
1 large sweet onion,
1 medium anaheim chile
2 ribs of celery
1 tomato
2 cloves garlic
1 cup paella rice (I took a photo of my preferred brand below)
4 cups chicken broth
5 oz green beans
salt/pepper to taste
flat leaf parsley and lemon wedges for garnish

Put your paella pan over medium-low heat, dice the chorizo and add it to the pan, letting it render off gorgeous color and flavor.

Season your chicken thighs with salt and pepper, push the chorizo to the outside edges of the pan and put your chicken thighs in the center. Your goal is to brown both sides of the thighs in that glorious chorizo oil, don't worry about cooking the thighs all the way through, that will come later. While the chicken is browning, add all the vegetables to your food processor and process them down until they are practically a puree

Veggies in...

And processed.

When the chicken is browned on all sides, pull it out of the pan and set aside, then add in the vegetable puree. The vegetables are going to cook down, picking up chicken and chorizo drippings.

When the veggies start to soften, add the smoked paprika, get it mixed in, then add half the stock and the saffron to the pan. Mix it all around and turn the heat up to high. Let it boil for just five minutes then turn the heat to low and let it simmer (so the chorizo, vegetables and saffron have time to infuse the stock) for about 20 minutes.

My favorite grocery store paprika
And lovely saffron.

 Now it's time to add the rest of the broth and tun the heat to high so its boiling again. Add seasoning to taste. Add the green beans, stir, then add the rice to the pan (I hear it is traditional to add it in a cross shaped pattern across the pan, I don't know what that does but I do it) and check that you have enough liquid, feel free to add more chicken stock or water (it should seem like you have twice as much liquid as rice). Stir the rice just once or twice (don't stir too much) and nestle the chicken thighs in the rice and broth.

My favorite rice brand, their Bomba rice is even better.
Rice added in an x.
Cook for five minutes on high heat, then turn the heat to medium and cook for another five minutes. Next turn the heat to low and cook another 10 minutes (that's 20 minutes total). You don't want to overcook the rice, so manage a lid or foil while you are cooking. If it is looking low on liquid, cover it, if it is looking wet, keep it uncovered and don't worry if the rice gets a little burned (not charred, but brown an stuck) to the bottom of the pan. That crust is called socarrat and is prized in traditional paella. I actually think this is where a traditional paella pan excels, those little dimples allow the bottom to get brown and crusty, but they still release. What you want is for the rice to be fully cooked (but still a touch al dente in the center) and all the liquid absorbed. After the 20 minutes of cooking time, take the pan off the heat and let it rest at least five minutes to let the rice finish absorbing the liquid and let the dish set. Right before serving I sprinkle the top with parsley and garnish with lemon wedges (a natural if you use seafood, but somehow the acidity brightens the dish even if there isn't seafood in your paella.) I like to just put the paella, pan and all, on the table with a serving spoon and let people dig in.

And to drink? I find paella hard to pair. The spicy, smokey quality from the chorizo clash with any kind of tannin to my tastebuds. I'd stick with a super simple and young Spanish red. I hear that white Rioja and Sherry are classic pairings, although I've never tried either with my paella. My suggestion would be anything light, young, and fruit forward will do the trick. Rose, with its higher acidity, might be just the ticket as well.

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