We love paella, but sometimes we don't have time to meticulously put a regular batch of paella together. When there really isn't a restaurant with good paella near where we live, what were we to do? Well, we decided to develop a quick "paella" recipe of our own! It works really well when you're in the mood for paella, without very much time, and is so simple even kids can put it together quickly.
Now, Cameron has literally spent months in Spain, and we honeymooned there, so we know what you're saying: there's no freaking way you are going to make paella in 10 minutes. And with "traditional" ingredients, you'd be right. But, with a simple substitution, buying as many fresh (yet pre-chopped) ingredients as possible, and an open mind, we did, and this is how you can too!
First, you'll need the following ingredients:
--1 package of frozen cauliflower rice (I know, I know--not "technically" paella, but you'll love the results)
--1/2 pound of mild or spicy ground sausage (we prefer spicy)
--2 seasoned and pre-grilled chicken breasts (we get ours from the prepared-foods counter at Central Market)
--1 green or red bell pepper (we often get pre-cut pepper strips from the salad bar to save time)
--1/2 pound of french green beans
--1/2 cup of diced onion
--1/2 a jar of sofrito (generally can be found in the specialty-foods section of a nice grocery store)
--2 tablespoons minced garlic (either crush your own, or use a high-quality pre-diced jarred garlic)
--Salt and Pepper to taste
You can use a paella pan if you have one, or you can simply use a large non-stick skillet as well. For purposes of making a 10-minute meal, we opted for the non-stick skillet.
Quickly dice any veggies that are not yet pre-diced, chop the green beans into 1 inch pieces, and dice the chicken breasts into 1/2 inch cubes. Add a small amount of olive or vegetable oil to your skillet / pan, and get it nice and hot. Crumble the sausage into the bottom of the pan, and let it start cooking.
Once the sausage has been cooked roughly half-way through, add the frozen cauliflower rice evenly throughout and stir together with the sausage. After 1-2 minutes, add the diced onion, chopped green beans, bell pepper and garlic. Stir everything together well, and spread evenly over the bottom of the skillet. Let this cook for 3-4 minutes uncovered (or cover if things aren't cooking fast enough).
Add the diced chicken breast cubes, half of the jar of sofrito, and salt and pepper to taste. Mix everything together well and let the liquid from the sofrito soak into the cauliflower rice. The entire mixture should turn a nice reddish-orange color.
If you like a socarrat crust at the bottom of your paella (who doesn't), you can get that with this dish as well. Just let the mixture cook without stirring until it starts to brown on the bottom. Then, remove from the heat and serve.
There you have it---a 10 minute "paella" that tastes pretty close to the "real" thing, without requiring an hour of cooking time. We were surprised that the cauliflower rice actually replicates the texture of regular rice so well in this dish. And, it seems the flavors meld together a bit quicker and easier, making this a go-to dish for us when we're in a hurry.
We paired our paella with a 2005 Muriel Gran Reserva Rioja, but the dish will work with any medium to full-bodied red wine. Our Rioja had notes of green pepper, white pepper, earth and leather on the nose. We detected underripe black cherry, clay, leather and white pepper notes on the palate. Decently-long finish, and a bit smoky at the very end. For those of you who care about such things, we gave it 90 points. We thought the wine was a great deal for roughly $30 / bottle.
So, next time you're in a hurry and want a delicious 10-minute meal, try our paella for youself. Pop open a bottle of wine, and enjoy!