Mexican Inspired Paella Verde

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: I love paella. This Spanish cousin-of-risotto leaves itself wide open to modification and reinterpretation, and so in keeping with my recent interest in Mexican flavors, I decided to focus this paella on a bunch of my favorite green Mexican produce, grabbing peppers, limes, avocados, and tomatillos before seeing where this took me.

Mexican Inspired Paella Verde

I was originally worried this dish would come out almost too green in color, but instead, the rich, chili flavored stock colored the rice with a fantastic brown/amber that made the other components of the paella really pop out visually (and when it comes to paella, appearance matters since you typically serve it straight from the pan).

Discussions about appearance aside, what about the flavor? The paella was delicious! It had a surprisingly full, earthy, nutty, solid foundational flavor brought by a rich chili-centric stock. The tomatillos added pockets of sweet/sour tanginess while the avocado added nice, creamy relief. The poblanos gave a lot of flavor and a good, mild, lingering background heat. The full combination of flavors were fun, lively, and made for a really enjoyable twist on arroz con pollo.

  • 2+ lbs chicken thighs
  • salt
  • pepper
  • allspice
  • Stock
    • 3 guajillo chiles
    • 2 chiles de arbol
    • 1 head garlic
    • 2 Tbsp almonds
    • 6 cups chicken broth
    • 2 poblano peppers
    • handful cilantro
  • 8 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1 leek
  • 3 poblano peppers
  • 1 chipotles in adobo
  • ~1 lb tomatillos
  • 1/4 cup sherry
  • juice of 1 lime
  • 1/2 tsp oregano
  • sweet paprika
  • coriander
  • cumin
  • salt
  • pepper
  • 2 cups paella-appropriate rice (e.g. valencia or arborio)
  • Garnish
    • 2-3 hard-boiled eggs
    • 1 lime
    • 1 pimiento
    • 1-2 avocados

Puree the chilis, almond, and garlic

Begin by making the stock since this is a strong flavor that is fundamental to the dish.

In a dry pan, toast the stemmed, seeded guajillos and de arbols for roughly 5-10 seconds on each side, pressing flat on the pan. Reconstitute these in warm water for 30 minutes.

While that goes on, dry pan roast the garlic, breaking the head up into cloves, but don’t remove the paper. Cook this over medium-high for 15 minutes, mixing now and then (don’t worry about black spots on the paper). Once cool enough to handle, squeeze the garlic flesh out of the paper.

In a food processor or blender, puree the drained, reconstituted chilis, garlic, and (paper-free) almonds. Set this aside.

Flavor the stock

In a saucepan, simmer the chicken stock for 10 minutes along with 2 diced poblanos and a handful of cilantro. Puree this along with the chili puree from earlier. I originally thought I would strain this mixture, but I wasn’t happy with how much was left behind, so I ultimately threw the solids back in, so I’d recommend you be lazy and don’t bother straining. Set this stock aside.

Brown the chicken and sauté the vegetables

If you have a paella pan, this is obviously the ideal vessel to cook this dish in. If not, the widest pan you have will do just fine. Begin by warming up the olive oil in the pan.

Chop the chicken up into smallish, bite-sized pieces and rub them with salt, pepper, and allspice. Brown these in the pan on all sides and cook through, somewhere around 10 minutes.

As that goes on, somewhat finely mince the leek and poblano peppers. Add these into the pan once the chicken is cooked through (and keep the chicken in the pan), sautéing for 7-10 minutes or until soft.

While you wait, husk the tomatillos and rinse off that sticky coating. Chop each one into thin wedges (roughly 6-8 pieces per tomatillo). Once time is up, add the tomatillo wedges for a minute. Deglaze the pan with sherry and let it reduce away. Squeeze in the lime juice and add all remaining spices.

Add the stock to the rice and boil until no longer soupy

Finally, add the rice into the pan. Toss and coat well with the entire contents of the pan before you pour in the stock. Boil this until no longer soupy, but do leave enough liquid for the rice to continue cooking. Figure this will take roughly 5 minutes.

At this point, get your garnishes ready. Arrange thinly sliced lime wedges and pimiento strips on top of the paella however you think looks good. Transfer to a 425°F oven for 15-25 minutes.

Mexican Inspired Paella Verde

There’s still garnish to prepare. Hard boil the eggs (~8 minutes in boiling water, chill in ice water, remove shells) and slice the avocados.

Once the paella is done cooking, remove from the oven and cover with tin foil. Let this sit to steam for 5-10 minutes more before you remove the foil.

Finally, crumble on the hard boiled eggs, arrange the avocado slices, and sprinkle on some minced cilantro.


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16 Responses to “Mexican Inspired Paella Verde”

  1. pam Says:

    This sounds incredible!

  2. Joan Nova Says:

    Caramba! This is so unique. What a great take on a classic. Happy Cinco de Mayo!

  3. grace Says:

    best paella ever, i kid you not. awesome, mike!

  4. Jeff Says:

    Way to keep finding new and creative uses to use the pan. Keep this up you are going to finally convince me I need to own one too.

    I love the stock with such great earthy pepper flavors. :drool:

  5. katie Says:

    I’ve eaten lots when we lived in Andorra – but never made it… This looks gorgeous!
    (And so does the new addition to the family – what a cutie)

  6. Dana Says:

    I made this for dinner tonight and it was really good. I have one question, though. When do you put in the chipotle peppers? I didn’t see it included in the instructions, only in the ingredients.

    Thanks for posting this. My family really enjoyed it.

  7. lisa (dandysugar) Says:

    Very creative, a great twist on traditional paella. Looks delicious!

  8. Hélène Says:

    Looks delicious. What a beautiful meal.

  9. Ivy Says:

    What’s not to like about this recipe. This sounds delicious.

  10. Jude Says:

    This sounds pretty good. I’ve always thought of paella as the perfect food. the avocados are such a nice festive touch!

  11. Mark Garso Says:

    Wow – what a great combination of ingredients – it should be mighty flavorful.

    Mark F. Garso 4646

  12. Smoked Ham, Asparagus, Peas, and Swiss Chard Paella from Mike's Table Says:

    […] I’ve said before, a strongly flavored stock is key to a good paella. For this one, I chose to go very […]

  13. Ben Says:

    Wow this is a great idea! I love paella too and poblano peppers (and any Mexican flavor, of course) I will make sure to try this one :)

  14. Kevin Says:

    A paella verde is a great idea!

  15. This Month’s Best Food Post (formerly This Week’s Best Food Post) - FOODalogue Says:

    […] made a mental note to try each of these one day. Kalofagas:  Parsley Salad Mike’s Table: Mexican-Inspired Paella Verde 5 Star Foodie: Candied Tomatoes with Basil Cookies & Honey Greek Yogurt But the one that […]

  16. domain Says:

    What’s up, after reading this amazing piece
    of writing i am also happy to share my experience here with friends.

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