Paella can be extremely complicated with loads of components, some requiring individual preparation. Or Paella can be the perfect lazy dinner, if you don’t mind straying slightly from the original. I was inspired by a Barefoot Contessa paella recipe which used lobster, and it was simple to make but still elegant and had a variety of flavors. Since I’m not a huge lobster fan, I settled on Paella with Shrimp and Sausage instead, and I know this meal will be showing up in my house a lot more often going forward.
Paella is traditionally made with chorizo, but that can be too spicy for my taste. Kielbasa, however, is much more mild-tasting and as a bonus, it’s already cooked and just needs to be heated through. Shrimp is available precooked, of course, but that is one area where I never take shortcuts. I find precooked shrimp to be rubbery and tasteless compared to raw shrimp I cook myself. This means you will have to take the shell and tail (and probably legs, too) off yourself, but you can find it de-veined and that is really the most time-consuming part. The resulting shrimp are so much more succulent and tasty than the precooked variety, I think it’s worth the extra 5 to 10 minutes of your time.
If you decide to go with cooked shrimp despite my hazard warnings, you may add them with the Kielbasa and peas in Step 8.
I never got around to researching how to crush saffron threads, so in the heat of the moment, I just rubbed them vigorously between my the palms of my hands. It seemed to do the job and the flavor came through really well. I also love the golden hue that saffron adds to rice. I don’t know of another spice that does that.
You may substitute regular long-grain rice for the Basmati rice but your cooking times may need to be adjusted.
Do you like Paella, but you don’t want to buy saffron,possibly because it’s ridiculously expensive? Try my Wisconsin-Style Jambalaya which is very similar but is seasoned differently with saffron noticeably absent.
- ¼ c. olive oil
- 2 onions, chopped
- 2 red bell peppers, cored, seeded, and chopped
- 4 cloves garlic, minced
- 5 c. chicken broth
- 2 c. white basmati rice
- ½ tsp. saffron threads, crushed
- ¼ tsp. red pepper flakes, crushed
- 1 T. kosher salt
- 1 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
- 1 lb. large (31 – 40 per lb.) raw shrimp, peeled, deveined, and tails removed
- ⅓ c. anise-flavored liquor such as Pernod or Sambuca
- 1 lb. kielbasa, sliced on the bias ¼” thick
- 12 oz. frozen peas, thawed
- 1 t. minced fresh parsley
- 2 lemons cut into wedges, for serving
- Preheat oven to 425°F.
- In a large Dutch oven or oven-proof stock pot, heat the olive oil over medium-high heat until shimmering. Add the onions and cook over medium heat until softened, about 5 minutes.
- Add bell pepper and continue to cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally, another 5 minutes.
- Reduce heat to low and add the garlic, stirring until fragrant, about 15 seconds. Add the chicken broth, scraping up any brown bits on the bottom of the pot.
- Stir in the rice, saffron, red pepper flakes, salt, and pepper. Bring to a boil. Cover and place in the oven. Bake for 15 minutes.
- Remove from the oven, stir rice gently, and layer the shrimp on top. Cover and return to the oven until the rice is tender and the shrimp are bright pink and cooked through, 10 to 15 minutes longer.
- Transfer the Dutch oven to the stove top over medium heat and add the liquor. Continue to cook until the liquor has been fully absorbed by the rice. Remove from heat and add kielbasa and peas, stirring carefully to combine.
- Cover and allow to steam until the kielbasa and peas are heated through, about 10 minutes. Sprinkle with parsley, serving the lemon wedges on the side.
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