• Ann Volkwein

Book Launch: At Home with Natalie

Natalie Morales, of the Today Show and Access Hollywood, brings us around her family table in this globally inspired collection of accessible recipes. Having grown up with a father in the Air Force, Natalie's palate was formed living and traveling across many continents, from Spain to South America. She also draws on favorite family recipes, learned at the apron strings of her grandparents in Puerto Rico and Brazil.

This collaboration brought a lot of joy as I cooked along the way, feeding family and friends. Her recipes are broadly appealing with a healthy twist (even my little guy devoured everything from the Coconut Chicken Curry Soup to the Moroccan Turkey Chili) and they're great for entertaining. The paella below was a big hit, give it a go! (And the book makes a great Mother's Day gift so pick up a copy.)

Paella with Chicken & Sausage

PAELLA WITH CHICKEN & SAUSAGE is excerpted from AT HOME WITH NATALIE © 2018 by Natalie Morales with Ann Volkwein. Reproduced by permission of Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. All rights reserved.

Gluten-Free Serves 8 to 10

Inspired straight from my years of living in Spain, I keep this one family-friendly, as my kids and husband aren’t into fish. I wish they were, because I love a traditional paella Valenciana, with its aromatic combination of mussels, clams, fish, and chorizo. However, this will be equally yummy and easier, in fact, to make. You can always add any fish and shrimp of your choice.

The other benefit to making this paella is that it’s great for entertaining, serving a lot of people and looking so spectacular as the central dish. In fact, Joe’s fortieth birthday party had a Spanish theme and this was the main entrée, which everyone loved. I also like that it’s pretty easy to make and low maintenance, meaning not a lot of steps. So you can pretty much cook it in front of the crowd, serve appetizers and drinks for an hour as it cooks, then serve it up straight from the paella pan.

1 (3½ pound) chicken, cut into 3-inch pieces using a cleaver, or 2 pounds chicken thighs, cut into 3-inch chunks

6 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

1 tablespoon chopped fresh oregano

1 tablespoon smoked paprika

1 teaspoon ground turmeric

2 cups uncooked Bomba or other short-grain white rice

3 garlic cloves, minced

1 quart (32 ounces) chicken broth

Grated zest of 1 lemon

2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

1 tablespoon tomato paste

½ teaspoon saffron threads

2 bay leaves

1 cup chopped white or Spanish onion

1 red bell pepper, coarsely chopped

½ pound fresh chorizo sausage, removed from casings and crumbled or cut up

2 cups fresh or frozen green peas

½ bunch fresh parsley, chopped

½ teaspoon red pepper flakes

1. Put the chicken pieces in a large bowl. Drizzle 2 tablespoons of the olive oil on top of the chicken, then season with salt and black pepper. Mix in the oregano, paprika, and turmeric. Toss to coat all the chicken pieces, then refrigerate as you prepare the rice.

2. In a paella pan or extra-large skillet, heat 2 tablespoons of the olive oil over medium heat, then stir in the rice and garlic. Coat the rice grains with the olive oil and garlic until fragrant and shiny, about 2 minutes. Then stir in the broth, lemon zest, lemon juice, tomato paste, saffron, and bay leaves, mixing well.

3. Bring the mixture to a boil, then reduce the heat to medium-low. Cook, covered, for about 25 minutes.

4. As the rice is cooking, in another skillet or Dutch oven, heat 2 tablespoons of the olive oil over medium heat. Add the onion, bell pepper, and chicken to the pan. Brown the chicken pieces on all sides, for a total of about 10 minutes (5 minutes if using boneless thighs). Add the sausage pieces and brown with the chicken until the meat is cooked through, 8 to 10 minutes more.

5. Stir the chicken and sausage mixture and the peas into the rice for the last 5 minutes of cooking. Garnish with the parsley and red pepper flakes. Serve immediately, straight from the pan.

Note: While I have included an option here to use boneless thighs, the bones really add to the flavor of this dish. You can ask your butcher to cut the chicken into 3-inch pieces, or try it yourself with a heavy knife—it’s not as hard as it sounds.

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©2020 by Ann Volkwein