Paella

Paella

Serves 4-6

3 pounds cut-up bone-in, skin-on chicken parts (I use 4 thighs and 4 wings, with the wings cut up Buffalo-wings style; or use breast halves cut in half again)

¾ pound sausage (a mixture of chorizo and sweet Italian sausage, or hot and sweet Italian sausage, Andouille sausage, or –if you can find it—Dartagnan garlic and red wine sausage); casings removed and cut into ½-inch slices

¾ pounds large raw shrimp, defrosted if frozen, peeled and deveined – if you’re peeling them yourself, save the shells to infuse the stock

½ pound frozen peas, partially cooked (microwave with a little water for about 4 minutes, then drain and set aside)

1 tablespoon dried oregano

2 teaspoons sweet Hungarian paprika

1 teaspoon smoked Spanish paprika, either sweet or hot depending on your taste

Salt and freshly-ground pepper

1 large onion, peeled, cut in half, then thinly sliced

4 garlic cloves, finely minced

1 15-ounce can peeled tomatoes, juice drained

1 large pinch saffron threads

2 cups chicken stock (boxed is fine), mixed with 2 cups water

Olive oil

1-1/2 cups Paella rice, or use medium-grain rice

Combine the oregano and paprikas in a small bowl with a teaspoon of salt and some ground pepper.  Place the chicken parts in a large bowl, then sprinkle the spice mixture over and, using your hands, coat all the chicken pieces.  Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and refrigerate for an hour.

About 10 minutes before the chicken’s hour is up, preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.  If you saved your shrimp shells, put them in a saucepan with the stock and water, cover, and bring to a boil – then turn the burner off and let the shells steep in the liquid, covered, until you’re ready to use the liquid.

Heat a little olive oil in a very large non-stick skillet (I use a 14-inch skillet, but a 12-inch is fine).  Brown the sausages and remove them from the pan using a slotted spoon.  Brown the chicken parts – with the spice rub still on them — on both sides (they should all fit in the pan, but do them in batches if they don’t – don’t worry, they’ll shrink when they cook and everything will fit in the pan).  Using tongs or a slotted spoon, put the chicken pieces on a baking sheet and place the sheet in the preheated oven for 20 minutes.  Remove the sheet from the oven and let the chicken pieces sit until you need them.

While the chicken is in the oven, pour off all except 3 tablespoons of fat from the skillet.  Add the onions and a little salt, then cook until they’re just starting to brown, scraping up the bottom of the pan to release all the browned bits.  Add the garlic and cook for 2 minutes.  Then add the drained tomatoes, crushing them in the pan with a wooden spoon.  Turn up the heat and cook, stirring and crushing, until the tomatoes are dry and starting to smell a little roasty.  Turn down the heat a bit, add the rice, and stir it for a couple of minutes to coat the grains and start to toast it a bit.

While the rice is sautéing in the pan, remove the shrimp shells from the stock and water mixture and heat it up to a simmer.  Add all but ½ cup of liquid to the skillet and stir to get everything mixed.  Regulate the heat to keep the skillet at a simmer and cook, uncovered, for 10 minutes.

After the 10 minutes have passed, shake the pan a little to see how much liquid is left.  If the rice moves easily, then you’re fine.  If it looks kind of sticky, add the remaining ½ cup of stock mixture.  Also stir in the saffron.  Then set the chicken pieces in the pan, pushing them into the rice – thighs toward the center, the wings around them, and the sausage closer to the edge of the pan.  Make sure the pan is still simmering and cook for 5 minutes.  Taste the rice and liquid to see if you need more salt.

Tuck the shrimp into the rice inside the edge of the pan.  Scatter the peas on top of everything in the skillet, and continue to simmer for 10 minutes without touching the surface.   The shrimp should be just cooked.  If not, or if there seems to be too much liquid in the pan, turn the heat up to high and cook for a minute to get everything done.  Serve hot.

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