A Spanish-flavoured Rice Dish

This isn’t a paella, but is instead a wetter, soupier dish, more like an American ‘bog’, but made with short-grain rather than long-grain rice. I know it’s yet another dish containing fennel and smoked paprika, but that is a wonderful combination much loved in my household. There is an argument for making this look much more impressive, by using whole chicken pieces and browning them well but this is supposed to be quite a quick dish and, really, I like the way the flavours manage to get right into
the chicken.

Ingredients

1 tbsp olive oil, plus more if needed
8 skinless boneless chicken thighs, chopped
2 leeks, finely chopped
1 red pepper, sliced
1 fennel bulb, sliced
4 garlic cloves, finely chopped
2 tsp fennel seeds, crushed
finely grated zest of 1 unwaxed lemon, plus lemon wedges to serve
1 bay leaf
1 tbsp tomato purée
300g short-grain or paella rice
pinch of saffron strands, soaked in a little warm water for 30 minutes
1 litre chicken stock
400g can of artichoke hearts, well rinsed (optional)
100g peas (frozen are fine)
100g podded broad beans
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
handful of chopped parsley leaves

Instructions

Put the olive oil in a large, heavy-based frying pan or casserole. Add the chicken and brown well on all sides. Remove from the casserole. Add the leeks, red pepper and fennel, with a little more olive oil if necessary, then fry quite briskly until they start to soften and take on some colour. Add the garlic along with the fennel seeds, lemon zest and bay leaf. Stir, for a minute, then add the tomato purée.

Tip in the rice, then stir to combine. When the rice is looking red and glossy, pour in the saffron and its liquid and the stock. Add the artichokes, if using, then sprinkle over the peas and broad beans and season with salt and pepper. Make sure the rice is evenly spread over the base of the pan, then bring
to the boil.

Reduce the heat, partially cover, then simmer for around 20 minutes. By this point the rice should be al dente and the whole dish should have a slightly thicker-than-soup texture. Serve in bowls with lots of parsley and lemon wedges.

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