There are probably as many versions of paella as there are cooks who prepare them, but there are three that are most widely known.
Valencian paella consists of white rice, green vegetables, meat (rabbit, chicken, duck), land snails, beans and seasoning. Seafood paella replaces meat and snails with seafood and omits beans and green vegetables, while, mixed paella is a free-style combination of meat, seafood, vegetables and sometimes beans.
I’ve either made or sampled all three varieties, but it’s the kind with seafood that is my favorite, although my first experience with the Spanish dish, at the home of former Grand Forks residents Dan and Billie Jo Rylance, was the Valencian type. It was made by a foreign exchange student from Spain who was living with the Rylances. By all accounts, it was very delicious.
Since then, I’ve tried a few different cookbook recipes, but my favorite was from GQ magazine. It was contained in an article titled “May the Force Bewitch You,” by senior writer Andrew Corsello, who fixed the Shrimp iPaella! recipe for actress Mira Sorvino, who he was interviewing for a cover story.
After reading Corsello’s account of the seductiveness of the recipe (it contains a “freakish” amount of shrimp and is a bit labor intensive), I knew the recipe was right up my alley. I improvised on it slightly, adding pheasant breasts for my grandson who didn’t like shrimp, a little tomato paste and brown rice instead of white), I discovered “the power of paella” to which the writer spoke of, as did everyone else who tried it.
I got to thinking about that recipe after seeing the following one, which was adapted from one in Martha Stewart’s Every day Food magazine’s December 2003 issue. It was contained in an article by Susan M. Selasky of the Detroit Free Press that came via one of the Herald’s wire services.
What I like about the recipe is that it goes together in less than an hour and instead of using chicken thighs and Spanish chorizo, it calls for precooked chicken sausage.
Shrimp and Chicken Sausage Paella
2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
1 pound large shrimp, peeled and deveined
1 pound chicken sausage, sliced in ½-inch rounds
1 large sweet onion, finely chopped
1 red or green bell pepper, chopped
2 large cloves garlic, minced
1½ cups long-grain rice
¼ teaspoon sweet Spanish paprika
Pinch of saffron
1 14.5-ounce can no-salt added diced tomatoes
2 14.5-ounce cans fat-free, reduced-sodium chicken broth
Kosher salt and ground pepper
1 cup frozen green peas, thawed
In a shallow, heavy 12-inch saute pan, heat 1 tablespoon oil over medium-high heat. Cook shrimp until just pink on both sides, 4 to 5 minutes (do not overcook). Transfer to a plate and set aside.
Add remaining tablespoon oil and sausage to pan; cook over medium-high heat until beginning to brown, about 2 minutes. Add onion and bell pepper. Cook, stirring frequently, until translucent and softened, about 5 minutes. Add garlic and rice; cook, stirring to coat, until rice is translucent; about 2 minutes.
Stir in paprika, saffron, tomatoes and broth, scraping up browned bits from bottom of pan with a wooden spoon. Season with salt and pepper.
Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to a simmer. Cover, and cook until rice is tender and has absorbed almost all liquid, 20 to 25 minutes. Stir in peas; cook 1 minute. Stir in cooked shrimp; serve immediately.
Yield: Serves 8.
Approximate nutritional analysis per serving: 385 calories,(30 percent of calories from fat, 13 grams fat (2 grams saturated), 41 grams carbohydrates, 26 grams protein, 972 milligrams sodium, 126 milligrams cholesterol, 3 grams fiber.