2 yellow onions
2 red bell peppers
4 to 6 cloves garlic
2 cups white basmati rice
5 cups chicken stock
1/2 teaspoon saffron
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
1 tablespoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/3 cup licorice-flavored liqueur (recommended: Pernod)
1 1/2 pounds cooked lobster meat or shrimp
1 pound kielbasa, sliced 1/4 to 1/2-inch thick
1 (10-ounce) package frozen peas and carrots
1 tablespoon minced fresh flat-leaf parsley leaves
2 lemons, cut into wedges
Step 1. Core both peppers and cut into strips. Red, green, yellow or orange, use any color pepper you’d like. I find the red and yellow to be a bit sweeter than the green.
Step 2. Slice pepper strips in half then set aside.
Step 3. Dice two medium-sized yellow onions. If you’re a cry baby when it comes to chopping onions, squeeze a bit of lemon juice on top of the onions. Trust me, it works.
Step 4. Mince the garlic cloves.
Step 5. Slice the Keilbasa into thin (1/2 – 1/4 inch) cuts, diagonal. Set aside. Shell the shrimp and set aside.
Step 6. In a deep pot, turn the heat to medium and pour enough olive oil to coat the surface (about 1/4 cup). When hot, slide in the onions and allow them to sweat, about 5 minutes.
Step 7. Then, add the pepper strips to the onions and allow these to cook for 5 minutes, mixing occasionally. After 5 minutes, turn the heat to a low simmer and add the garlic. Cook for a minute or two longer.
Step 8. Add the rice and chicken stock. Stir.
Step 9. Add the seasoning: salt, black pepper, and crushed red pepper flakes. Mix.
The recipe only calls for 1/4 teaspoon of red pepper flakes, but this small tsp. packs a punch! Unless you like your food on the spicy side, I would decrease the amount. I happen to love spicy food so it didn’t matter so much to me – the spicier the better!
Step 10. Add the saffron.
If you’ve never used saffron before, they are dried flowers used as natural food coloring. This is what gives paella its vibrant yellow color. It has no taste and the color intensity depends on how much you add. The more saffron, the deeper the yellow color.
Step 11. Mix everything together then bring the heat up to a boil. Once it is at a boil, lower the heat back down to a simmer and cover the pot. Set the timer for about 14 minutes and allow the rice to cook. You may need 4 minutes more or less, depending on your stove.
*Ina’s recipe suggests cooking it in the oven, but I found this method to take soo much longer. I think cooking it on the stove top is just fine.
Step 12. While the rice is cooking, do these next steps. In a separate non-stick frying pan, heat some olive oil on medium heat. Saute the shrimp and kielbasa separately then set aside.
*Ina’s recipe doesn’t include searing these two, but who doesn’t love a little bit of fried, carmelized goodness?!
Step 13. Give the parsley a rough chop and slice the lemon into wedges.
Step 14. When the rice is finished cooking, turn the heat off and move the pot to a different burner. Add the kielbasa and the shrimp. Mix evenly. Do not worry if there is rice sticking to the bottom of your pot. Don’t try to scrape it off now, you’ll just end up frustrated at your unsuccessful attempts. Mix the layers on top that aren’t sticking instead.
You do this for two reasons: one, it creates a layer which protects further rice from sticking to the bottom of the pot and two, you will find that once this dish cools off, the bottom layer will scrape off easily with the aid of a spatula. The steam that gathers in between the rice and the bottom of the pot creates a moisture that will eventually release the rice from its sticky hold. If you burn the rice however, that’s a different story. Keep the heat on low and your rice will turn out perfect.
Step 15. Add the veggies and mix until everything is evenly combined. Taste, and add salt if necessary.
Step 16. Garnish with a bit of parsley and lemon wedge. I like a little squeeze of lemon over my paella.