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I am not a chef, I just like to cook.

Tomorrow I am making paella for a bunch of people, and I am leaning towards following this recipe.

I was wondering, however, if it would be okay to swap the two whole roasted chickens for two whole smoked chickens as I am an avid smoker and it would be really easy to pop the two chickens into the smoker in the morning.

My smoked chickens usually turn out juicy and delicious, so I think this might be good in the paella, but I don't know if the addition of a smokey flavor would be unwelcome.

I would be using apple wood for smoking, if that matters.

Thanks in advance!

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I think @BaffledCook pretty much hit the nail on the head below to point you toward a more traditional style paella. If you want to try it anyway with smoked chicken I would recommend forgoing the saffron all together instead steep annatto seeds in the broth, it will give you a vibrant yellow/orange collor. I have seen it done often in Spain both with saffron and without just to get a rich dolor. Just make sure to strain the seeds out of the broth/stock before you add it to the paella. –  jeffwllms Sep 19 '12 at 13:43

3 Answers 3

I don't like the recipe much.

First of all, paella is a one pan dish, normally. That is, all ingredients are cooked in the same pan (paella) and in sequence. This means that all the flavors are stacked one on top of the other.

Second, if you are going to use saffron, the most expensive spice in the world, hold down on any other spices. In particular, most recipes I've seen, use paprika powder explicitly forbidding the use of 'de la Vera (smoked)' paprika powder.

Third, if you are going to use saffron, at least treat it with delicacy. Put a pinch of saffron in a cup of warm chicken broth before you start cooking. This way, the saffron will release it's color and flavor slowly. When you must add the broth, first add the saffron broth, then the rest.

Fourth, this recipe has way too much ingredients: Chicken, Chorizo, Lobster, Shrimp, Squid, Mussels, Clams in the protein department. Honey, Saffron, Garlic, Pepper and Parsley in the flavor department.

Fifth, Spanish paella (Arborio Bomba) rice has a thick grain that resists cooking that long.

Having said all that, and to answer your question. If you are using saffron, don't use the smoked chicken as you'll not be able to taste where your money went. If not, and if you insist on using this recipe, go ahead. Paella really accepts all you want to put into it (but do look for a simpler recipe).

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Why do I get the impression paella is a favourite of yours BaffledCook? :D –  ElendilTheTall Sep 19 '12 at 10:57
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@ElendilTheTall, I don't know :-) But, living in Spain gives you access to certain... knowledgeable people. One friend of mine makes paella each Saturday, another makes the most awesome paella with natural vine coal. –  BaffledCook Sep 19 '12 at 13:20
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I would agree even if paella can sometimes have a delicate smoky quality, from my experience that comes from things like smoked paprika. A heavy smoke from smoked chicken will more that likely mask the subtle flavors. –  jeffwllms Sep 19 '12 at 13:22
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But to my knowledge Arborio rice isn't traditional paella rice. The main rice I have seen used is Bomba rice, but I can only base that from my trips to Spain and watching a taking note of the ingredients and methods being used when having the paella I ate prepared. I do not live there and do not see the preparation done by the everyday cook. –  jeffwllms Sep 19 '12 at 13:26
    
I would go further: that recipe isn't paella. But @tastefive is right about the rice: it should be arroz bomba, and it should be cooked for 20 minutes. –  Peter Taylor Sep 19 '12 at 13:29

In Spain, the backyard paella is normally cooked over an open fire of orangewood, pine and dried sage branches. Many people believe that the smokey flavor imparted to the paella is just as vital to a great paella as is the saffron and bomba rice and other essentials.

But remember, there are as many paella dishes out there as there are paella chefs. It's kind of hard to go wrong, and the perfect paella is in the palate of the beholder. I have had the pleasure to have enjoyed a few perfect paellas over the years and they were all different.

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I think a smoked chicken could easily overpower the dish. And with such rich and diverse flavors, you do not want that to happen. I would be more inclined to use charcoal to roast or cook on a rotisserie, without smoke wood. That would give you more a hint of cooking with fire, and not overwhelm the rest of your ingredients with it.

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