Monday, February 16, 2009


February is the month of many birthdays in my family; my husband, my brother in law, and my dad all have birthdays within a 3 day period. We get together for each birthday throughout the year, so this was to be a big celebration. It obviously called for one thing and one thing only: PAELLA PARTY!

OK, so maybe that‘s not *totally* true. My family, for the most part, is very meat and potatoes. My sister, Heidi, is an awesome and adventurous cook, but my dad and most of the rest of the people in my family prefer ribs and potato salad to my frou frou miso glazed sea bass with garlic ginger green beans and wasabi mashed potatoes.

Paella is something that I made in the past that fit the bill of something that everyone could enjoy. It calls for several carnivorous palette pleasers, not terribly exotic veggies, and the most basic of foods, rice. It’s a one pot meal, which is always nice. However, since I wanted to cook enough for 10, I used two dutch ovens (I don’t own a paella pan).

I have to admit, it is a fairly fussy recipe, but I have tried to simplify it as much as possible. Here she blows!

*Dutch Oven Paella*
1 pound boneless, skinless chicken thighs (yes, thighs!), seasoned well with salt and pepper
1 pound spicy sausage - I used chicken andouille
1 pound shrimp
1 pound mussels
1 large onion
2 tbsp garlic
1 can diced tomatoes, liquid and all
2 cups arborio rice
3 cups chicken broth
1/2 cup white wine
1/4 tsp crumbled saffron threads (TJ's has them for cheap)
1/2 cup peas
1 bell pepper
1 or 2 dried bay leaves

Heat your oven to 350 degrees and adjust the rack to fit a big old dutch oven.

The first thing to do is blister your bell pepper over the stove. I take tongs and turn a burner on high and char the outside of the bell pepper until it gets slightly soft and blackened in spots on the outside. Chop it up into bite size pieces and set aside for later.

Next, use a few tbsp olive oil to brown up your thighs (bwahahahaha) and sausage over medium high heat. They don't have to be cooked all the way through, but you do want them to be nice and brown.

Add a bit more olive oil and then your onion. Let it soften for 3-4 minutes and scrape up all the browned bits with your wooden spoon. Add the garlic and let that cook for another minute or so.

Pour your can of tomatoes over everything and let that cook for a minute or two. Then, put in the rice. Cook the rice for about a minute and add the wine. Cook for another few seconds, then add the broth, bay leaves, and saffron. Let it come up to a boil.

Slap on the lid and stick it in the oven for 20 minutes.

Once the buzzer rings, take it out of the oven and put everything else in: shrimp, mussels, peas and bell pepper. Mix it all up and put it back in the oven for another 15 minutes.

Take it out of the oven and sprinkle some parsley on top. Try to give it a sec to cool and dig in! It pairs nicely with a spinach salad with lemon shallot dressing and crusty fresh bread with butter.

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