Our kids—like any kids—can at times be picky eaters. They have their likes and dislikes, and if they dislike something they’re probably going to take an obligatory “thank you” bite, as we call it, and then move on. Foods they love one day they loathe the next. And, of course, the foods they love and loathe rarely sync up.
Yet this paella mixta—a Spanish rice dish with a mix of meat and seafood—manages to make pretty much everyone happy. Rice is a common denominator all our kids love. Marin goes for the chicken but skips the clams. Charlotte is head over heels for clams, eating as much as either Kelli or me, but frequently cools to chicken. And Timothy, the little guy that he is, holds his own.
Thus like Jack Sprat and his wife, together our kids lick this platter clean. And for Kelli and me, of course, it’s the total package that truly makes the dish. Marinated chicken and pastaneck clams in the saffron-infused paella is a dish we’d happily make weekly.
- ½ lb boneless, skinless chicken breast, cubed
- 3 tbsp olive oil, divided
- 1½ tsp paprika, divided
- 1 medium white or yellow onion, finely diced
- 4 garlic cloves, minced
- generous pinch, saffron threads
- 1 cup crushed tomatoes
- 1 cup arborio rice
- 1½ cups chicken stock
- ½ cup dry white wine
- ½ cup water
- 1½ lbs pastaneck clams
- salt and pepper
- lemon wedges
- Preheat the oven to 400 deg F with a 12-inch cast iron skillet (or other oven-safe skillet) inside.
- While the oven is preheating, marinate the cubed chicken in 1 tbsp of the olive oil, ½ tsp of the paprika, and a pinch of salt.
- When preheated, carefully transfer the skillet to the stovetop and place over medium-high heat.
- Brown the chicken in 1 tbsp of olive oil, then remove and set aside, about 3–5 minutes. (The chicken doesn't need to be fully cooked through now.)
- Turn the heat down to medium, add the final 1 tbsp of olive oil if necessary, then add the onions to the skillet and cook until soft and translucent, about 5 minutes.
- Add the minced garlic, a pinch each of salt and pepper, 1 tsp paprika, and the saffron threads and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute.
- Add the crushed tomatoes, let cook for about 1 minute, then scrape the fond from the bottom of the skillet.
- Add the rice and toss to coat. Then add the chicken.
- Add the chicken stock, white wine, and water. Make sure the rice is in an even layer, bring to a simmer, and let cook until most of the liquid is absorbed and the rice is al dente, about 20–25 minutes. (It will look like A LOT of liquid in the skillet to start, but keep the faith. The rice will eventually absorb it. Unlike when making risotto, DO NOT stir the rice!)
- Push the clams vertically about halfway into the rice, hinge-side down.
- Transfer the skillet to the preheated oven and let cook about 15 minutes more, plus or minus, until the clams have sprung open.
- Remove from the oven, cover with foil, and let self-steam for 5 more minutes.
- Serve with lemon wedges and salt to taste, testing first for the clams' salty contribution.