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Latin-Style Paella (Annatto Seeds)

Here, annatto seeds are cooked briefly in olive oil until they sizzle, then they’re discarded. The seeds lend a subtle earthy flavor to the oil, which is used to cook the ingredients for this paella; they also imbue the dish with rich orange-red color.

Ingredients:

  • 6 to 8 boneless, skinless chicken thighs
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 1/4 tsp. freshly ground pepper
  • 4 Tbs. olive oil
  • 2 Spanish-style cured chorizo sausages, cut into 1/4-inch slices
  • 1 Tbs. annatto seeds
  • 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 1 yellow onion, finely chopped
  • 4 tomatoes, chopped
  • 1 jarred roasted red bell pepper, chopped
  • 1 1/2 tsp. sweet paprika
  • 1 1/2 cups chicken broth
  • 1 1/2 cups Bomba or other Spanish paella rice
  • 1/4 cup dry white wine
  • 1 cup fresh cilantro leaves, chopped

Directions:

Season the chicken thighs with the salt and pepper. In a large fry pan or paella pan over medium-high heat, warm 2 Tbs. of the olive oil. Add the chicken and cook, turning frequently, until lightly browned on both sides but not fully cooked, 4 to 5 minutes. Transfer to a plate.

Add the chorizo to the pan and cook, stirring occasionally, until browned and crisp, 4 to 5 minutes. Transfer to the plate with the chicken.

Reduce the heat to medium-low and warm the remaining 2 Tbs. olive oil. Add the annatto seeds and cook, stirring constantly, just until the seeds start to sizzle and the oil becomes a richer orange-red color, 2 to 5 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, remove the seeds and discard them.

Increase the heat to medium, add the garlic and onion to the pan and cook, stirring frequently, until soft and golden, 3 to 4 minutes. Add the tomatoes, bell pepper and paprika and cook, stirring frequently, until the mixture has thickened and most of the liquid has evaporated, about 5 minutes.

Meanwhile, in a small saucepan over high heat, bring the broth to a boil. Reduce the heat to maintain a simmer.

Stir the rice into the tomato mixture and cook, stirring, for 2 minutes. Add the wine and cook until most of the liquid has evaporated, about 2 minutes. Add the hot broth, stir well and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer, without stirring, until the liquid is absorbed by the rice, 8 to 10 minutes.

Add the chicken and chorizo and push them down into the rice. Cover the pan with aluminum foil. Cook until the chicken and chorizo are cooked through and the rice is tender, about 10 minutes.

Turn off the heat and let the paella stand for 5 minutes. Remove the foil and sprinkle the paella with the cilantro. Serve immediately. Serves 4 to 6.

Adapted from a recipe by Williams-Sonoma.