We have kind of created a tradition with our family to have Paella instead of what some might consider a traditional turkey or ham for our Christmas Eve dinner. Our kids love it and prefer it over anything else that we’ve had in the past. I usually make a nice corn bread and serve it all with a green salad. What could be better?

Last weekend we celebrated Barrett’s birthday with a few of his good friends. Since it was his party he was given the choice of what he wanted served. And yippy … he wanted Paella. There are so many recipes out there for Paella and every one of them have options to consider. It’s a Spanish dish, or Cuban … it depends on who you talk to. Over the years of making this however I’ve added my own twists to it. For one, the dish should not be stirred so as to allow the rice to “crust” on the bottom. I don’t like a rice crust, so I stir mine and it still tastes amazing. There are a few ingredients to get, and it can be a bit pricy. So while you may not want to have this every week or month, my bet is you too will want to have this for a special family event and make it a tradition too.

Ingredients:

  • Chicken legs or thighs – one per person
  • 3 Chorizo sausages – cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 3 Andoille sausages – cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 1/2 of a smoked Kielbasa sausage-cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 8-12 medium to large raw shrimp-peeled and deveined with tail on
  • 6-10 large sea scallops
  • 1 1/2 cups small sea scallops
  • 1 pkg Seafood medley (mixed calamari, shrimp, mussels-found in the frozen seafood section)
  • 8-10 fresh mussels
  • 2 tbsp Paprika
  • 1 tsp ground Oregano
  • 1 tsp Kosher salt
  • 1 tsp fresh ground black pepper
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 4 cloves garlic-minced
  • 4 green olives-minced
  • 15-oz whole tomatoes-hand crushed
  • 1 1/2 cup yellow Spanish rice
  • 1 tsp Saffron threads
  • 3 cups Chicken broth
  • 1/2 cup frozen peas

Directions:

  • Place chicken in a gallon size storage bag. Add Paprika, salt and Oregano. Shake well to cover the chicken. Refrigerate for 1 hour before beginning this dish for dinner.
  • Using a large metal Paella pan (as pictured), or a large skillet with high edges, heat the olive oil over medium to high heat. Add the chicken pieces and brown on all sides. Note: the seasonings may turn dark and then red in the pan. This is perfectly fine and only adds to the flavors. Once the chicken is browned, removed it to a baking dish and place in a 350 degree oven to finish roasting.
  • In the hot pan, add the sausages and allow to brown, stirring frequently. Cook for 5-8 minutes and then remove to a bowl. Set aside.
  • You should still have oil in the pan. If you don’t, feel free to add another 3-4 tbsp. Add rice and stir frequently to allow the rice to absorb the richness of the seasonings in the pan, and to begin to cook/brown.
  • After 4-5 minutes, add the tomatoes – crushing with you hand to break it down a bit. Add pepper, garlic, Saffron threads and chicken broth. Cover pan loosely to contain some of the steam. This will help cook the rice and it helps retain some of the flavors. Trust me … at this point your mouth will be watering!
  • Cook for 15-20 minutes, stirring occasionally to avoid the rice from sticking and to help incorporate the liquid and spices into the entire dish.
  • Add the sausages, seafood medley, scallops, shrimp and peas. Cook for 10 minutes.
  • Add the mussels and continue to cook for 5-7 minutes.
  • Remove chicken from oven and place on top of the Paella dish. Bring to the table and serve immediately.