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I have always wanted to try making paella and I recently made that happen! I was in a FB conversation about spices and my friend, John, mentioned that he grows saffron. The most expensive spice in the world! After my head stopped spinning, I told him we were going to have to talk about this. He asked, “Over wine?”. I answered, “Yes, and paella!” Guess who called me that afternoon asking when we were getting together for wine and paella? LOL! John and his lovely wife have an amazing wine collection and are generous with it, so I’m always happy to have them over for dinner! They bring amazing wine and I do my best to cook amazing food!

So special note about this recipe, how do you clean mussels? You want to buy the freshest mussels you can get. You start by going through your mussels and if any are opened, tap on the shell with your fingernail. If it closes, you’re good to go. If it does not, throw it away! Or if you have any with broken shells that have been exposed to air, throw them away. You will almost always have to throw away a few. I got lucky and only had to throw away 2 out of my 1 1/2 pound batch. Those mussels that are opened and won’t or can’t close will be fishy and can ruin the flavor of your dish. You then want to pull off the beard from each mussel, if they have one. This is the stringy thing coming out of the shell. Then scrub each mussel under running water with a stiff brush. I did this a few hours ahead of time and then put the mussels in a bowl of salt water and stored them in the fridge. This allows them to release any sand or grit in them.

So the paella turned out great and it really wasn’t hard to make! I hope you enjoy this recipe!

Stovetop Paella

Serves 6-8 people

2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil

1 medium white or yellow onion, chopped

1/2 red bell pepper, chopped

1/2 green bell pepper, chopped

3 cloves garlic, minced or pressed

1/2 – 3/4 pound boneless, skinless chicken, cut into bite size pieces

1 pound andouille sausage links, cut into bite size pieces

2 cups basmati rice

6 cups chicken broth, divided

1/2 tsp red pepper flakes

1/2 tsp saffron threads

Kosher salt

Fresh ground pepper

1 1/2 pounds mussels, cleaned and de bearded

1 pound large shrimp, peeled and deveined (I love to buy the EZ peel shrimp! They are already deveined and they are truly easy peel!)

1/2 cup frozen peas, thawed

5 green onions, chopped

1/4 cup flat leaf parsley chopped

Lemon wedges

You will need an enamel coated dutch oven that is at least 5 quarts in size or another large pan.

Put olive oil in pan and sauté onion and bell pepper until softened. Then add garlic and cook until fragrant another 2 minutes. Next add chicken and sausage and cook for another 5 minutes until partially cooked. Next stir in the rice, 5 cups chicken broth, red pepper flakes, crumble in the saffron, salt and pepper and bring to a boil. Cover the pot and simmer over medium-low heat for about 15 minutes. Stir the rice gently and continue cooking for another 10 minutes until the rice is fully cooked. Taste the rice and add more salt and pepper, if needed. Add the mussels, shrimp, peas and green onions and stir. Place lid on pot and allow seafood to steam, check after 5 -7 minutes. If the shrimp are not turning pink and mussels are not opening and you didn’t notice much steam, add some of the remaining chicken broth and continue cooking until the seafood is just cooked. You don’t want to over cook it, as the seafood will get tough.

You can make the rice portion a little ahead and then stick in the oven on low for a while, but you want to wait until right before serving to add and cook the seafood.

Before serving, garnish the paella with parsley. Serve with lemon wedges.

I served the paella with a wilted spinach salad and home baked bread. It was a delicious dinner! The leftovers were yummy too!