Posted on Behalf of Jean Carnegie.
My next door neighbor, Jean, is a fantastic cook. She’s always trying new things, has a knack for knowing what foods go best together, and enjoys entertaining. Earlier this month, I had the pleasure of attending her Third Annual Paella Party and convinced her to share her version of this classic Spanish dish, adapted from her daughter’s recipe, on Kitchen Excursions. Jean never makes her Paella the same way twice (see Note), and any cook can modify the ingredients according to his or her taste. Thank you, Jean!
6 fresh Cajun, sweet Italian, or hot Italian sausages
12 chicken thighs, bone in, skin on, excess fat trimmed (about 4¼ lbs.)
2 large onions, chopped (about 5½ cups)
10 garlic cloves, chopped, plus 1 garlic clove, minced
12 oz. tomatoes, chopped (about 1½ cups)
2 bay leaves
4 medium zucchini, halved crosswise,
then quartered lengthwise (about 1¼ lbs.)
3 red bell peppers, cut into 1-inch-wide strips
1½ lbs. raw large shrimp, peeled and deveined
Generous pinch plus ¼ tsp. saffron threads
2½ cups Arborio or Paella rice
(about 17½ oz. - don’t substitute any other rice)
1½ tsps. salt
5 cups canned low-salt chicken broth
2 tsps. paprika
Chopped fresh parsley
NOTE: Jean sometimes substitutes frozen peas for the zucchini and adds 12 chopped crimini mushrooms and a mix of shrimp and mussels or clams instead of all shrimp. She steams the clams and/or mussels separately and adds them to the Paella once it is finished. For this year’s Paella Party, she also added lobster.
1. Heat 1 Tbs. oil in heavy large shallow pot over medium-high heat. 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 check to bowl with sausages. Add onions and 10 chopped garlic cloves to pot. Sauté until tender, about 8 minutes. Add tomatoes and bay leaves. Stir 2 minutes. Stir in zucchini and bell peppers (and mushrooms, if using).
2. Toss shrimp in a medium bowl with remaining 2 Tbs. oil, 1 minced garlic clove, and a generous pinch of saffron. (Chicken-sausage mixture, vegetables, and shrimp can be prepared 6 hours ahead. Cover separately and refrigerate.)
3. Preheat oven to 375°F. Brush an 18-inch paella pan or a 18x12x2¼-inch roasting pan with olive oil. Mix rice and 1½ tsps. salt into vegetable mixture. Spread rice mixture evenly in prepared pan. Cut sausages diagonally into 1-inch slices. Using wooden spoon, push sausage and chicken pieces into rice mixture. Pour any remaining juices from bowl over. Add paprika and remaining ¼ tsp. saffron to 5 cups chicken broth in a medium saucepan and bring to a boil. Pour evenly over rice mixture. Cover roasting pan tightly with foil. Bake until rice is almost tender, about 40 minutes.
4. Sprinkle shrimp mixture with salt and pepper. Arrange atop rice mixture. If using mussels and clams, push these down into the rice mixture at this time. If using frozen peas, add at this time. Re-cover pan with foil. Bake until shrimp are opaque in center, rice is tender, and most of the liquid in the pan is absorbed, about 20 minutes longer. Sprinkle with parsley and serve. Easily serves 12.