Prep: 1. Chop onions, garlic, bell pepper, mushrooms, cilantro and green onions. 2. Season chicken with salt and pepper. Make: 1. Set a large, deep skillet over high heat, add safflower oil and heat until pan is just starting to smoke. 2. Carefully add chicken to skillet, skin side down and cook over medium heat, until browned on both sides about 3-5 minutes per side. Cut chicken into pieces and transfer to a plate. 3. Add onion and mushrooms to pan, season with a pinch of salt and cook over medium high, stirring occasionally, until caramelized, 10 minutes. 4. Add garlic and tomato paste and cook for 1 minute. 5. Add bell pepper, thyme sprigs, bay leaf, paprika and chili flakes and cook, stirring, until fragrant, 2 minutes. 6. Pour stock and saffron threads into skillet and bring to a boil. 7. Stir in rice and a generous pinch of salt and return to a boil. 8. Nestle chicken in rice and cook over moderately low heat, without stirring, until rice is tender and chicken is cooked through, 20 to 25 minutes. 9. Discard the thyme sprigs and bay leaf. Season the dish with salt and pepper and serve with hot sauce. Top the dish with chopped cilantro, sliced scallions and cotija cheese.
Any kind of mushrooms work well in this. Also you can substitute plain white rice for the arborio, but you will miss out on the great, creamy texture that the arborio rice gives. If you can't find cotija cheese any mexican blend or queso fresco will also work.