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Easy Paella

January 25, 2013

paella2

This was one of the last meals I made in 2012 and wow! I’ve wanted to make a simple version of paella for awhile but haven’t gotten around to it. I knew I wanted to use shrimp and chorizo, which is such a delicious combination, but keep it fairly easy. Flipping through some of my cookbooks, I found a Barefoot Contessa recipe for easy lobster paella. She uses lobster and kielbasa but I figured I’d loosely follow her recipe, substituting shrimp and chorizo. The whole dish took about 45 minutes to make, was a one pot meal, and was packed with flavor. This was one of those instances where I was making dinner, hoping it would be delicious and the final result really impressed me. Don’t you love it when that happens?

I also tried using frozen shrimp for the first time. We usually buy uncooked shrimp from the fish store but I read somewhere that the raw shrimp you get from the market is most often frozen shrimp they thaw on-site so you are better off buying frozen shrimp and thawing it yourself. I figured I’d give it a shot and I have to say I might be a convert to frozen shrimp. I wanted to get 16-20 count shrimp but was only able to find 30-40 count. It was slightly smaller than I wanted but worked just fine.

This recipe serves four but you could easily double it for a crowd and serve a Spanish themed dinner. If you do all the chopping and prep beforehand, there’s only 5-10 minutes of hands on cooking, so this would be a good dinner party dish. Yum!

The colors in this dish are so bright and cheery, it’s definitely an antidote to the winter blues. Given the temperature the last few weeks, I think we can all agree that something colorful, warm and flavorful is the perfect meal.

paella1

Easy Paella
adapted from Barefoot Contessa at Home
serves 4

2 tbsp olive oil
one medium yellow onion, chopped
2/3 to 3/4 lb chorizo, casings removed (I used 2 large links and it was about 2/3 lb)
one red bell pepper, cut into 1/2-inch strips
3-4 cloved garlic, minced
1 cup white basmati rice
2 1/2 cups chicken stock
1/4 tsp saffron threads
1/8 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
1 tsp kosher salt
1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
1/2 pound medium shrimp, peeled and deveined
1 ounce Pernod
1 cup frozen peas
1 tablespoon minced flat-leaf parsley, for garnish (optional)
lemon wedges, for serving (optional)

Preheat the oven to 425.

Heat the oil in a large ovenproof Dutch oven or saute pan. Add the onions and cook over medium-low heat for 2 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the chorizo and cook, breaking up, for 5 minutes. Add the bell peppers and continue to cook over medium heat for about 5 more minutes. Stir in the garlic and cook for 1 more minute. Add the rice, chicken stock, saffron, red pepper flakes, salt and pepper. Stir to combine, increase the heat to medium-high, and bring to a boil. Cover the pot and put in the oven. After 15 minutes, remove the pot and stir gently. Arrange the shrimp on top of the rice, replace the cover (the original recipe calls for leaving the cover off which I forgot to do and the dish was still delicious.  Remove or replace, it’s up to you), and return to the oven for 10-15 more minutes, until the shrimp is pink and the rice fully cooked.

Return the pan to the stove over medium heat.  Add the Pernod and cook for 1 minute, stirring a few times, until the liquor is absorbed into the rice.  Turn off the heat and sprinkle the peas over the top of the paella.  Cover and allow to steam for 5-10 minutes, until the peas are warm.  Fluff the paella a few times to incorporate the peas and sprinkle with the parsley, if using.  Serve hot, garnished with lemon wedges (I completely forgot about this and the dish didn’t suffer. If you remember, I’m sure it’s a great addition, but don’t worry if you forget and don’t go buying a bunch of parsley just for this.)

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