• 1 1/2 pound unpeeled, large fresh shrimp
  • 1 (32-oz) container chicken broth
  • 1/2 pound Connecuh sausage or sausage of your choice, sliced
  • 1 (10-oz) package frozen diced onion, red and green bell pepper and celery (seasoned mix from you freezer section)
  • 2 tsp minced garlic
  • 1 (10-oz) package saffron rice
  • 1/2 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
  • 3 1/2 cups chopped cooked chicken
  • 1 cup frozen small green peas
  • 2 lemons, cut into wedges

My father was in the CC Camp when he was a young man.  While serving, he became best friends with Manuel Mones and they stayed close until my father’s death in 1988.  Manuel and his wife Lydia were from Cuba and were amazing cooks.  We being Southerners and  accustomed to Southern cooking, always looked forward to visiting their home in Tampa, Fl. because we knew we were in for a feast.  They would serve us dishes such as Black Beans, Cuban Sub Sandwiches and Paella.   This is not their recipe but every time I prepare this dish, I smile, remembering all the wonderful times and wonderful meals we had with this beautiful family.

This recipe is streamlined from the usual complicated dish by using a deli-roasted chicken, minced garlic from a jar, frozen vegetables and packaged saffron rice.  The original recipe calls for 18 fresh mussels but my family prefers more shrimp.  If you do use mussels decrease shrimp to 1 pound and make sure you discard any mussels that don’t close when you tap on them.

photo: laflaca

Directions:

  1. Peel shrimp, reserving shells, and set shrimp aside.
  2. Bring shrimp shells and chicken broth to a boil in a large saucepan over medium high heat; reduce heat, and simmer 5 minutes.  Remove from heat, and let stand 10 minutes. Pour mixture through a fine wire mesh strainer into a bowl; discard shells.
  3. Saute sausage and frozen vegetables in a paella pan or large heavy skillet over medium heat until vegetables are tender; add garlic, and cook 1 minute.  Stir in rice; cook, stirring to coat, 1 minute.  Stir in shrimp broth and pepper;  cover, reduce heat, and simmer 15 minutes.
  4. Remove pan from heat; stir in shrimp and chicken.  Sprinkle peas evenly over mixture. (if using mussels, arrange around outside of pan, hinge ends down)
  5. Cook, covered, over medium-low heat 20 minutes or until liquid is absorbed (and mussel shells are open, discarding any unopened mussels)
  6. Serve paella with lemon wedges.