Almost Chicken Paella

by zesty on February 18, 2009 · 23 comments

Mid week is here and I have a creative dish to share… or so I think.  I wanted to make Paella for a while now but I realized that I did not have a lot of the ingredients on hand. That in turn means that Cooking improvises - uh oh look out.

This classic Spanish dish, named after the traditional two-handled pan, can be prepared with a variety of meats, shellfish, and vegetables. You don’t need a paella pan to make this meal. Use a wide, shallow saute pan with a lid.

Paella is usually flavored and colored with saffron, the world’s most expensive spice.  Since I don’t have that – I used  paprika and turmeric instead, which are less expensive but create an equally tasty dish. I also jazzed this Paella dish up with some additional spices. For some reason, I am loving spicy rice dishes as of late.

Take look below for the step by step pictures to whip up this super easy “Almost Paella” dish.


  • 2 Tbsp. Olive oil
  • 2 Chicken Breasts ( sliced )
  • 1 Cup Bell Peppers ( sliced )
  • 1 Cup Mushrooms ( chopped )
  • 1 Cup Carrots ( chopped)
  • 2 Cloves Garlic, minced
  • 1 1/2 Cups Long-Grain Rice
  • 1/4 Tsp. Paprika
  • 1/4 Tsp. Red Pepper Flakes
  • 2 Tbsp. Sweet Chili Sauce
  • 1/4 Tsp. Ground Turmeric
  • 1 can (14.5 ounces) Diced Tomatoes
  • 2 can (14.5 ounces each) Reduced-Sodium Chicken Broth
  • Coarse Salt and Ground Pepper


  1. Prepare paste by adding sweet chili sauce, turmeric, red pepper flakes and paprika.

  2. In a heavy 12-inch saute pan, heat 1 tablespoon oil over medium-high heat. Cook chicken with paste until cooked through, 4 to 5 minutes (do not overcook). Transfer to a plate.

  3. Add remaining tablespoon oil, mushrooms, carrot, bell peppers to pan; cook over medium-high heat until beginning to brown, about 2 minutes.

  4. Add chicken back in to the pan once mushrooms has released their liquid.

  5. Add garlic and rice; cook, stirring to coat, until rice is translucent, 1 to 2 minutes.

  6. Stir in tomatoes, and broth, scraping up browned bits from bottom of pan with a wooden spoon.

  7. Season with salt and pepper.
  8. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to a simmer.

  9. Cover, and cook until rice is tender and has absorbed almost all liquid, 20 to 25 minutes.
  10. Shave some Parmesan Cheese over using a vegetable peeler.
  11. Serve immediately.

  12. Enjoy!

Zesty Tip: When cooking rice with a non traditional method like this (using tomatoes, stock) it is a good idea to watch the moisture content throughout the process and if it is drying out add more liquid.  If you find it to moist after the cooking time simple cook for a while with the lid off and let the moisture evaporate.

Question of the Day:  What kind of rice do you normally buy?

Take care


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{ 20 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Godiva2

I love jasmine rice, but buy brown rice because of the healthy factor.

I thought your paella looked yummy!


2 VeggieGirl

Paella!! Classic.

I always purchase brown rice.


3 patsyk

Love paella, but never made it because I never have the ingredients on hand! Love that you found a good sub for saffron… might just have to try this one soon. Yummmmm!


4 Mara @ What's For Dinner?

Turmeric makes a fantastic sub for saffron! Some of the “cheaper” restaurants in Spain that I visited used that in addition to a tiny amount of saffron.

I usually buy short grain “sweet” brown rice…Lundburg brand… its amazing!


5 ZestyCook

@Godiva – I would have to say that Jasmine is my favorite as well.


6 Rose

This looks delicious. I have never made a dish like this before – so this is a good recipe to try.


7 Meg

All my favorite flavors and textures in this one! Fantastic Cooking!


8 brandi

I just got some saffron for a really good price at Trader Joe’s – I haven’t used it yet, though! Maybe i need to make paella :)


9 Heather McD (Heather Eats Almond Butter)

Looks close enough to authentic paella to me – yum Cooking!

My favorite rice of all time is brown basmati. When I cook it in the rice cooker, our whole house smells so sweet – like buttered popcorn or something. Love it!


10 Pigpigscorner

It still looks delicious! I love flavoured rice…yummy flavours.


11 coco

yummy~~~~~ :D
I’d add saffron to it too!


12 Julia

I use parboiled long grain rice when I make arroz con pollo. I use saffron threads in that dish also. When I make a rice dish I cook my rice this way
1. Start with the amount of water and rice. Water should be twice the amount of rice. Example-1 cup rice and two cups water.
2. Bring water to a boil in a sauce pan that has a lid. Place a small amount of butter or Olive oil in water to prevent sticking.
3.When water is boiling, place rice in sauce pan and stir to separate the grains. Cook for 5 minutes without a lid on medium heat.
4. After 5 minutes is up, place lid on pot and cook for another five minutes. When the second 5 minute period is up, turn off the heat. Let rice sit for 15-20 minutes. At the end of the sitting period, all liquid will be absorbed and rice will be perfectly cooked and every grain will be separate from every other grain.


13 Marianne

I always buy brown basmati rice :)


14 Sharon

Oh my gosh, that looks scrumptious – thanks for sharing!
And rice? We have lots of white rice, red white, wild rice… But we usually go for white rice.


15 lynn @ queenofthecastlerecipes

This looks yummy! I love all the step by step pictures, too :)


16 Lynda

Looks really good! Sometimes when you improvise, it turns out really great!


17 Melissa

I looks so flavorful! I like the step by step pictures…I tend to need those. :)


18 Saver Queen

Funny, I was just thinking about making a dish like this – and now you handed the recipe to me! Excellent!

Basmati is my favourite rice to buy, hands down, even though it’s a touch expensive.


19 Kevin

That looks good! It is often fun when you don’t have everything on hand and you need to improvise. You never known where you end up. I buy brown short grain rice the most though I also like jasmine and basmati and I like to get them brown when I can as well.


20 Diann Agemy

Thank you so much, this was very interesting. I was actually born in Madrid ( not telling you when though!) but moved around various parts of europe and lastly settled in Britain when I was a teenager. I dont remember an awful lot of the few years I was in spain, but the smell of spanish food always seems to ring a bell in me or something. It’s weird how I dont remember anything except the smells,isn’t it! I even found a whole internet site dedicated to spanish recipes, which gave me great delight and thought I ought to share with your readers. Anyway, thank you again. I’ll get my son to add your cast to my rss app…


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