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Chicken, Sausage and Seafood Paella

Serves 6 to 8

Paella is a Spanish rice dish with assorted meats and seafood. I wanted to make paella for years and finally created this recipe based on my research. Do not be concerned about the long list of ingredients. The preparation process requires some attention, but is very easy. The resulting dish makes an absolutely delicious and spectacular presentation for a special occasion or entertaining, needing only a tossed green salad for a complete meal. See the notes below for some ingredient tips. The recipe can be halved and you can use any combination of chicken, sausage and shellfish preferred.

Ingredients

Peel the shrimp and refrigerate until use. Place the peels in a medium saucepan with 2 cups water. Bring to a boil; cover and simmer over medium heat for about 20 minutes. Strain the broth and reserve.

Heat a 10-inch skillet over medium-high heat. Add the olive oil and heat. Add the onions and peppers; sauté until softened, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and sauté another minute. Add the tomatoes, bay leaf, cumin, thyme, paprika, salt and pepper. Cook, uncovered, until the liquid has evaporated, about 5 minutes. Set aside.

Preheat oven to 400° F. Heat a 14-inch ovenproof skillet or paella pan over high heat. Add 2 tablespoons of olive oil. Season the chicken wings lightly with salt and pepper. Brown them for about 5 minutes on one side. Flip over and add the chorizo. Brown both for another 5 minutes. Remove from pan. Remove all but 4 tablespoons of oil from the skillet. Bring the reserved shrimp broth, chicken broth and saffron to a boil in a separate saucepan. Add the rice to the skillet and stir to coat with the oil. Then add the tomato mixture and stir again. Stir in the hot broths. Arrange the chicken and chorizo in the rice. Layer the mussels on top. Place in oven and bake for about 30 minutes or until the rice is tender. (During that time, add more broth if needed, but do not stir.) Add the peas and shrimp to the top. Return to oven and bake another 10 minutes or until shrimp are pink. Remove from oven and let rest about 5 minutes before serving.

Notes: Saffron is a very expensive spice, but well worth it. Turmeric can be substituted. The flavor is not the same, but it gives that nice yellow color. The first time I made this recipe it was without mussels because the ones I had purchased died before cooking and had to be discarded. It was still very good because the shrimp added lots of seafood flavor, but the mussels are traditional. Long-grain rice can be substituted for the arborio. It will probably take about 5 or 10 minutes less time to cook. The chorizo sausage in this dish is a Spanish smoked sausage. If you cannot find it, other smoked sausage or cooked ham can be substituted.