Some of our favorite family recipes began as happy accidents in the kitchen, including this inadvertent stir-fry.
This dish came about when I’d planned to make paella but ran short on time. Instead I made paella-style rice and turned the usual mix-ins into a stir-fry to top the rice. I’m sure paella purists would scream (any food purist would scream at a lot of the things that happen in my kitchen) but I think this dish was better than the original plan.
Some traditional paella ingredients aren’t easy to find, but since we’ve thrown food purity out the window here, you can easily make substitutions.
First, Spanish chorizo. The closest thing I could find was chorizo bacon – a first for me – which should not be a thing. We set it aside and sprinkled it on top because the hubby liked it. You can use andouille or any smoked sausage – or omit the sausage entirely (although it does help build the flavor base for browning the chicken). I wouldn’t use Mexican chorizo, which is more like taco meat in texture, nor would I recommend chorizo bacon. Ever.
Next, saffron, which is literally worth more than its weight in gold. In fact, my bottle of saffron threads is probably the most valuable item in my home.
And when it runs out, I likely won’t replace it. I actually prefer Sazon, a flavorful Latin seasoning that’s amazing with rice and gives it fantastic color. (I add Sazon to my rice every time I make rice and beans to pair with Tex-Mex food.) And you get eight packets for about $1.50 – comparable to about $85 worth of saffron.
If you don’t have a hoarder-style stash of Sazon packets in your pantry like I do, you can add turmeric to give the rice that vibrant yellow hue for which paella is known.
May your happy food accidents lead to your own family favorites!
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