Sunday, April 25, 2010

Shrimp & Sausage Paella

Paella traditionalists might balk at this recipe's lack of saffron and quick & easy approach, but I like how straightforward, accessible and flexible it is. The ingredients are all readily available, and can be altered to fit what's in your kitchen, in season, or what meets your dietary needs. For example, it could be made completely vegetarian using a veggie sausage & broth, omitting the shrimp, and adding in some extra protein via tofu or maybe garbanzo beans. We've added all sorts of veggies that were in season, and even tossed in cherries and nuts to lend unique flavors.

This recipe makes at least 6 servings - and freezes really well for leftovers tomorrow, or next month. The cayenne & chili powder make it pretty spicy for some (especially young ones), so consider omitting those if serving this to heat sensitive mouths.

Shrimp & Sausage Paella
1/2 pound sausage, cut into 1/2 inch slices
2 tablespoons oil
1 cup white onion, chopped
1 cup red bell pepper, chopped
1 clove garlic, chopped
1 tspn chili powder
1 tspn cayenne pepper
1 tspn cumin
2 teaspoons turmeric
2 cups white rice
4 1/2 cups broth (vegetable, chicken, beef or whatever you have)
Salt and pepper
1 cup tomatoes, chopped
1 pound shrimp
10 oz frozen peas
Lemon wedges for garnish

In large deep skillet cook sausage until brown over medium-high heat. Don't worry about cooking it all the way - it'll go back in the pan shortly and finish cooking.

Remove the browned sausage from the skillet and put in a strainer over a bowl, to drain any extra fats.

Add the oil to the skillet, still over medium-high heat. Add the onion, pepper, garlic, chili powder, cayenne, cumin and turmeric, and saute for 3 minutes, stirring frequently.

Add rice and stir until coated.

Add the sausage and broth, cover the pan, lower the heat to medium, and simmer slowly for 15 minutes. This is a great time to chop the tomatoes if you haven't already, or get a head start cleaning up so it looks like you magically made dinner without dirtying a single dish.

Uncover the pan, and season with salt and pepper. If the broth you used was unsalted, you might want to use about 1 tspn. If it had salt, you can take it easy on adding more. When in doubt about how much salt & pepper to add, grab a spoon and taste a little bite - but be sure not to stir the rice.

Add the tomatoes, press the shrimp tails into the rice, and scatter the peas on top. Again - don't stir the rice. Even though the solid green layer on top makes this look very un-paella-ey right now, you'll stir everything together before serving and it'll look much more balanced.

Cover the pan and cook another 8 minutes.

You'll know it's done when the shrimp have turned from grey to pink.

Stir up the dish to mix all the ingredients together. Be sure to scoop down to the bottom when dishing up to get a bit of the crispy rice 'socarrat' that will form on the bottom of the pan. Serve with lemon wedges.

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