Serious Eats: Recipes

Dinner Tonight: Chicken and Rice with Saffron

How to describe saffron? The task has stumped food writers for ages. Its flavor is nothing like anything else, rendering comparisons useless. It's more heady and fragrant than it is strong on the tongue, yet at the same time it's also earthy. It's a little bit flower-like in its aroma (it's painstakingly harvested from the Safron Crocus flower), and pleasantly bitter. It's simply something you must experience yourself. One of the best ways to taste it is with rice, perhaps in a traditional Risotto alla Milanese or a classic Spanish paella. Both of which, I think, this particular recipe takes its cue from.

At first glance, this recipe from Gourmet magazine seems like a simple chicken-and-rice preparation, Latin-style, as the recipe title indicates. But a tiny pinch of saffron works its mellow yellow wonders to bring the dish to a new place, just as Nick recently discovered with a saffron-rubbed roast chicken that went from everyday to magical. (Guess saffron is making an impression around here lately, especially with chicken.) In retrospect, maybe this is really just a simple chicken paella with less emphasis on the rice. Whatever it is, it's a delicious one-pot dinner.

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