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Saffron Paella with Chicken, Andouille Sausage & Shrimp

By Chef Kevin Markey

As a chef, the most commonly asked question is, “What is your favorite dish to cook?” Sometimes I reply coyly with, “Whatever I am cooking right now.” But the truth is I have three favorites. First, I love making stock – chicken stock, veal stock, corn stock, etc. A good stock is one of the best ways to incorporate flavor to a dish.

The other two are risotto and paella. Both are rice dishes, but they’re so fundamentally different. Risotto is all about the cream and cheese, whereas with paella, in my opinion, the rice is made to shine more.

For this recipe use a good dry white wine, like Sonoma Cutrer’s Sonoma Coast Chardonnay to infuse the saffron, and of course a good home-made chicken stock. Depending on how much paprika and red chili flakes you add, you can manage the spice levels. I like to keep my heat lower because I want to taste the saffron and rice. One of the coolest parts about paella is cooking it in a paella pan. While it’s not necessary, you can always use a sauté pan, the flat bottom of the paella pan allows for even distribution of heat so that the rice cooks evenly. Plus, it happens to sit perfectly on top of a campfire.

Pair this with our Russian River Valley Pinot Noir and you will surely leave the dinner table full and happy.

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    Serves 4

    Total Time 2 Hours

    Prep Time 1 Hour

    Difficulty Level Medium

    Ingredients

    20 threads of saffron

    2 cups dry white wine

    2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

    1 yellow onion, medium sized, diced

    2 cloves garlic, minced

    2 cups short grain rice (Valencian or Bomba)

    3 cups chicken stock

    1 red pepper, medium sized, diced

    4 chicken thighs, 1 inch diced (dry rub with paprika and garlic powder 20 minutes before cooking)

    1 pound andouille sausage, cut into 1/4 inch rounds

    1 pound shrimp, peeled and deveined, tails on (size 16/20)

    1 lemon, cut into wedges

    1 bunch parsley, minced

    Salt and pepper to taste

    Directions

    1. Toast saffron threads in a sauté pan for 2-3 minutes, stirring constantly. Remove from heat and add to the white wine. This infuses the wine with the saffron, creating a more intense flavor. Set aside for later use.

    2. Over a medium to high heat, add oil to the paella pan. Then add onion and cook until translucent, about 7 minutes.

    3. Add garlic and cook for 2 more minutes.

    4. Add all of the rice and stir frequently. This technique is known as ‘parching’. By heating the rice for 3-5 minutes prior to adding any liquid, the rice will essentially become “thirstier,” and soak up more broth.

    5. Once the rice is hot, add half of the stock and half of the saffron infused wine.

    6. Stir occasionally and bring to a boil. As the liquid is soaked up, add more stock and wine.

    7. While slowly adding stock to keep the rice ‘wet’, add in the bell pepper.

    8. Before the rice is fully cooked, add in the sausage and chicken. Stir occasionally and be sure to bring back to a boil to ensure the meats cook all the way through, about 7 minutes.

    9. Lastly, add the shrimp and cover with the rice. The shrimp will only take 2-3 minutes to cook thoroughly. As soon as it is done, remove the pan from the heat.

    10. Garnish with parsley and lemon wedges.

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