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If you love to entertain friends with dinner, you can’t go wrong with a good Paella–it’s exotic enough to be interesting and it’s real comfort food that a group can gather ’round and enjoy together. Serve it with a healthy supply of our homemade sangria and you’ll have a great time.

A word about paella pans: Bigger is usually better because it allows you to spread the rice more thinly. This recipe fills my 22″ pan, which I place on my gas BBQ for heat. With appropriate side dishes, it served 12 without a problem.

Ingredients (Serves 10-12):

1/4 cup olive oil
12 chicken thighs, bone in and skin on
2 1/2 tsp salt, divided
2 lbs Andouille sausage, cut into 1/4 moons
3/4 pound pork tenderloin, cut into same size pieces as the sausage
1 Medium Onion, chopped
2 cups small diced red bell peppers
4 tablespoons minced garlic, pounded to a paste
2 teaspoons saffron threads
3 quarts chicken stock (You need 7 cups, and each quart gives 3 cups)
4 cups medium-grain rice (use bomba, if available, never long-grain)
2 lbs jumbo shrimp, shell on, backs split
10 ouncs or 2 1/3 cups frozen green peas, thawed

Creole Seasoning (Makes 3 tablespoons):

2 tsps paprika (prefer smoked paprika)
1.5 tsps salt
1.5 tsps garlic powder
0.75 tsps black pepper
0.75 tsps onion powder
0.75 tsps cayenne pepper
0.75 tsps dried oregano
0.75 tsps dried thyme

Lemon Aioli:

4 cloves garlic, peeled
1/2 tsp kosher salt
2 egg yolks
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
1 tablespoon chopped lemon zest
3/4 cup olive oil
Freshly ground pepper

Garnish:

1 1/2 cup fresh chopped parsley
4 Lemons, quartered, for squeezing
Manchego Cheese for grating on top
Lemon Aioli

Preparation

Make the Aioli first and refrigerate until ready for use.

Place the garlic, salt, egg yolks, lemon juice, and zest in a blender and process until smooth.

Slowly add the olive oil, drop by drop, until thickened. Go slowly so the Aioli doesn’t break.

Season with salt and freshly ground pepper to taste.

Refrigerate until ready to use.

Paella

Set your paella pan on the grill at medium-high heat and pour 1/4 cup of olive oil.

Season the chicken with 2 tablespoons of the creole seasoning and 2 teaspoons of salt.

Once the oil is hot, sear the chicken in the pan until well carmelized–takes about 4 minutes per side. We’re just trying to give the chicken color on the outside, and its not finished coooking. Remove the chicken from the pan and set aside.

Add the other 1/4 cup of olive oil with the Andouille Sausage and pork tenderloin to the pan and sear, stirring occasionally, until well carmelized. This will take 7-8 minutes.

Add the onions, red and green bell peppers to the pan and sweat until they’re softened (about 5 minutes). Add the garlic paste and saffron to the pan and then return the chicken to the pan.

Pour the stock in the pan and bring to a boil. I always preheat my stock to just below simmer before pouring it in. It speeds things up.

Once the stock is in put the chicken back in, add the rice and carefully stir to incorporate.

Make sure the pan boils evenly. Sometimes one side gets hotter than the other. This is a good time close the lid on the BBQ to keep some moisture in and let the temps come up evenly on everything.

From this point on–no stirring the paella!  If you do, it will release the starch from the rice and things will get sludgy.  So don’t stir.

Once its been boiling evenly for 5 or 6 minutes reduce the heat to medium.

Keep an eye on it, and when the rice starts to noticeably absorb the liquid its time to get the shrimp in.

Add the remaining 1 tablespoon of Creole Seasoning to the shrimp with 1/2 teaspoon of salt and add them to the pan, tucking them under the rice.

Add the peas and continue to cook until the shrimp turn pink, about 5 minutes.

Once most of the liquid is absorbed, turn down to low and go another 5 minutes. If there’s any danger things are getting too dry, don’t be afraid to add more stock!

Fold in the Aioli and Fresh Chopped Parsley until combined. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Serve immediately right from the Paella pan. Pass around the cheese grater and the Manchego, the cheese on top is the final decadence that cannot be missed!