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Seriously Simple: Paella is perfect for a family dinner on a cold day

Seriously Simple: Paella is perfect for a family dinner on a cold day

From the 5 simple but comforting recipes to enjoy in cold weather series
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This dish can stay warm for up to 45 minutes after cooking.

This is such a fabulous family dish. It can stay warm for up to 45 minutes after cooking. The paella becomes the center of the table and offers lots of conversation. This is also Seriously Simple to make, since it bakes in the oven and doesn’t require the traditional rotating of the pan on top of the stove for even heat.

A few tips that will make your paella a success

  • Use medium grain rice like Spanish bomba rice or Italian Arborio rice. (The goal is for the rice to absorb the liquid and stay relatively firm.)
  • Use saffron threads, not powder.
  • The chorizo should be dried sausage.
  • Use a 13-inch-wide light paella pan so the rice will cook in a thin layer, encouraging lots of flavor and a crisp crust on the bottom. (If you don’t have a paella pan, use a 13- or 14-inch ovenproof skillet. Avoid cast iron, because it becomes too hot, and avoid nonstick because it is more difficult to form a crust.)

What to serve with this one-dish meal?

I like a salad of mixed lettuces, shredded manchego cheese and marcona almonds dressed in an assertive citrus vinaigrette. For dessert, a caramel custard is my choice. To drink? Consider a light Spanish albarino, sauvignon blanc or a chilled rose.

Oven-Baked Paella

Serves 8

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 medium onions, finely chopped
  • 1 red pepper, seeded and chopped into 1/2-inch dice
  • 4 ounces (1/4 pound) chorizo, chopped into 1/2-inch dice
  • 2 cloves minced garlic
  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons smoked paprika
  • Salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 pound medium grain rice, Arborio preferably
  • 1 cup clam juice or fish stock
  • 6 cups fish or chicken stock
  • 1 teaspoon saffron threads
  • 1 pound mussels or littleneck clams, well scrubbed,
  • 1 pound jumbo shrimp, peeled and deveined,
  • 1 pound cooked chicken or turkey sausage, sliced into ½-inch pieces
  • 1 cup frozen petit pois
  • 2 tablespoons chopped parsley, for garnish

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

2. Heat the oil over medium-high heat in a 14-inch paella pan or 13- or 14-inch large oven-safe saute pan. Saute the onion and cook until softened, about 7 minutes. Add the red pepper and sauté about 2 minutes or until slightly softened. Add and saute the chorizo for about 2 minutes or until well coated. Stir in the garlic and cook for 30 seconds. Add the tomato paste and paprika and cook about 1 minute, until slightly darker in color. Season with salt and pepper.

3. Add the rice and cook, stirring to coat the rice, for a minute without browning. Pour in the clam juice and 1 cup of stock and using potholders, move the pan around so that the ingredients are even and mixed together. Cook until it is absorbed, about 4 to 5 minutes.

4. Add the rest of the stock and the saffron and bring to a boil. Cover and place in the oven. (If you don’t have a cover, use aluminum foil.) Cook for about 30 to 35 minutes or until the liquid is almost absorbed.

5. Remove the pan from the oven and add the shellfish, sausage and frozen peas, and stir to evenly blend. Return to the oven and cook for 10 minutes or until the mussels and or clams are open, and the shrimp are pink and fully cooked. Remove from the oven and keep covered until serving. Garnish with parsley just before serving.

The clever cook could:

  • Use boneless chicken thighs instead of the sausage.
  • Add some basic vinaigrette to any leftover paella and serve chilled as a paella salad.

Advance preparation: This dish may be prepared up to 45 minutes before serving. Cover to keep warm.

(Diane Rossen Worthington is an authority on new American cooking. She is the author of 18 cookbooks, including “Seriously Simple Parties,” and a James Beard Award-winning radio show host. You can contact her at www.seriouslysimple.com.)

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