Family Style

One week out of the year, our family gets together in Pajaro Dunes, a small coastal resort south of Santa Cruz, CA.  We stay in a multilevel four bedroom compound that houses 5 grandsons, 3 couples and two grandparents. During the day we try to spend as much time at the beach as the fickle weather allows and and night we dine.  We are a family of eaters, and we can spend a lot of time cooking elaborate meals. Other times, like last night, we make special, but simple comfort food.  Grandma C found this paella recipe years ago in Sunset magazine. It's a family favorite and special to me, as we served a similar version of paella at our wedding reception. I made a butter lettuce, avocado and grapefruit salad to compliment the salty and spicy flavors of the dish. Here's an adaptation of the original recipe.

Simple Seafood and Sausage Paella (adapted from Sunset Magazine)

Serves 6, prep and cook time about 1 hour

12 oz linguisa, firm chorizo or other cooked sausages

1 tbsp olive oil

1 onion, peeled and chopped

1 red bell pepper rinsed, seeded and diced

2 tbsp minced garlic

2 cups arborio rice

1 cup dry white wine

1 quart fat-skimmed

chiken broth

1/2 tsp paprika (smokey spanish variety)

1/4 tsp ground tumeric

1/4 tsp saffron threads, crumbled

Salt and pepper

8 oz boned, skinned firm white fish (halibut) 

1 lb shelled, deveined shrimp, tails on

8 oz mussels (or small clams) in their shells 

1/4 cup slivered green onions

Lemon wedges 

1. In a 15" paella pan or 12" frying pan (with at least 2 1/4" tall sides) over high heat, turn sausages occasionally until browned on both sides.  For ease, we pre-slice the sausage. The recipe instructs to brown them whole, allow to rest, then slice. 

2. Reduce heat to medium-high and add olive oil to pan; when hot, add onion, bell pepper and garlic and stir often until onion is limp.  Add rice and stir until it begins to turn opaque, 2-3 minutes.  Stir in wine, chicken broth, paprika, tumeric, and saffron.  Bring to a boil over high heat, then reduce heat and simmer uncovered, stirring once of twice, until rice is almost tender to bite, 15-18 minutes.  Add salt and pepper to taste.

3. Meanwhile, rinse and drain fish and shrimp; cut fish into 1" pieces, pull beards off mussels and scrub mussels (or clams) discarding any gaping ones that don't close when you tap their shells.  Cut sausages diagonally into 1/2" thick slices.

4. Gently stir fish, shrimp and sausages into rice mixture; arrange mussels on top.  Cover pan with foil or lid and cook until the rice is tender to bite, fish and shrimp are opaque but still moist looking in center of thickest part, and mussel shells have popped, about 7-8 minutes. 

5. Sprinkle with green onions and garnish with lemon wedges.