Chicken with Saffron and Rice

Last week I tried this recipe from Williams Sonoma. It was very good, though I made adjustments by cutting the quantity of rice in half. It’s a traditional Spanish dish of chicken and rice that is seasoned with saffron. The saffron makes this dish. Saffron is a spice derived from the flower of the Crocus. It’s one of the world’s most expensive spices by weight.

Chicken with Saffron and Rice

Serves 6 – 8

3 1/2 lb chicken thighs and drumsticks
Salt, to taste, plus 1 1/4 tsp
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
2 Tbs olive oil
1 yellow onion, finely diced
1 red bell pepper, seeded and finely diced
1/4 tsp crumbled saffron
1/4 tsp red pepper flakes
5 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 cup dry sherry
2 1/4 cups chicken broth
2 cans (14 1/2 oz) diced tomatoes with juices
1 1/2 cups medium-grain rice
1/2 cup green olives, pitted and halved
1 Tbs minced fresh flat-leaf parsley

Position a rack in the lower third of an oven and preheat to 350°F.

Season the chicken with salt and black pepper. In a Dutch oven over medium-high heat, warm 1 Tbs of the olive oil. Working in batches, brown the chicken on all sides, 7 to 8 minutes per batch. Transfer to a plate. Discard the fat in the pot, then wipe out the pot with paper towels.

In the same pot over medium heat, warm the remaining 1 Tbs. olive oil. Add the onion, bell pepper, saffron and red pepper flakes and cook, stirring occasionally, until the onion is translucent, about 10 minutes. Add the garlic and cook, stirring constantly, for 30 seconds. Add the sherry and cook until slightly reduced, about 1 minute. Add the chicken, broth, tomatoes and their juices and bring to a simmer. Reduce the heat to medium-low, cover and cook for 20 minutes.

Stir in the rice, olives, the 1 1/4 tsp salt and black pepper. Increase the heat to medium-high and bring to a simmer. Cover the pot, transfer to the oven and bake for 30 minutes, stirring once halfway through the cooking time.

Remove the pot from the oven and let stand for 10 minutes. Sprinkle the chicken with the parsley and serve immediately.

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