Birthday Paella

Photo source: Epicurious, Marcus Nilsson

Well, I was going to post about sweet potato biscuits today. See, I had this Martha Stewart recipe for sweet potato biscuits that I had been holding onto for, literally, years. I FINALLY decided to make them last night. And . . . they were OK. I mean, they were good, but not as good as I had worked them up to be in my mind over the last four years.

So, instead I'm posting the recipe for paella that I made for Pete on his birthday. I first dabbled in paella with Mark Bittman's simple vegetarian version, and then tried a couple other kinds. I quickly sold Pete on the joys of it as well. But, I was still looking for a good classic recipe to make for his birthday when I stumbled across one called Birthday Party Paella. How perfect! It's called that, though, because it's designed to serve about 12 people. So I cut down a lot of the ingredients. My personal altered version is below.

It really is delicious and satisfying - try it out!

(I would post a picture of the one I made, but because I'm not a food photographer my photo makes it look kind of gross.)

Pete's Birthday Paella

3 tablespoons olive oil
2-3 fresh Cajun or hot Italian sausages
4 chicken thighs with skin and bones (about 4 1/4 pounds), excess fat trimmed
1 very large onions, chopped (about 5 cups)
6 garlic cloves, chopped, plus 1 garlic clove, minced
1 can chopped tomatoes
2 bay leaves
2/3 cup frozen peas
1 red bell pepper, cut into 1-inch-wide strips

1/2 pounds uncooked large shrimp, peeled, deveined
Generous pinch plus 1/4 teaspoon saffron threads

1 1/2 cups arborio rice
1 1/2 teaspoons salt

3 cups canned low-salt chicken broth
2 teaspoons paprika

Chopped fresh parsley

Heat 1 tablespoon oil in dutch oven or large cast iron pan. Add sausages and sauté until cooked through, turning often, about 10 minutes. Transfer to large bowl. Sprinkle chicken with salt and pepper. Working in batches, add chicken, skin side down, to pot. Cover and cook until brown, about 6 minutes. Turn chicken over, cover and cook until brown and cooked through, about 8 minutes longer. Transfer chicken to bowl with sausages. Add onion and 5 chopped garlic cloves to pot; sauté until tender, about 8 minutes. Add tomatoes and bay leaves; stir 2 minutes. Stir in peas and bell pepper.

Toss shrimp with remaining 2 tablespoons oil, 1 minced garlic clove and generous pinch of saffron in medium bowl.

Preheat oven to 375°F. Mix rice and 1 1/2 teaspoons salt into vegetable mixture. Cut sausages diagonally into 1-inch slices. Using wooden spoon, push sausage and chicken pieces into rice mixture; pour any juices from bowl over. Bring 3 cups chicken broth, paprika and remaining 1/4 teaspoon saffron to boil in medium saucepan. Pour evenly over rice mixture. Cover with a lid or foil. Bake until rice is almost tender, about 30-40 minutes.

Sprinkle shrimp mixture with salt and pepper. Arrange atop rice mixture. Cover and bake until shrimp are opaque in center, rice is tender and most of liquid in pan is absorbed, about 20 minutes longer.

Remove from oven and put pan over high heat for a few minutes to develop a bit of a bottom crust before serving.

Sprinkle with parsley. Spoon paella onto plates and serve.

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