After watching Tyler Florence make his Ultimate Paella, I knew that I wanted to make it for my Christmas meal. Special and festive enough for a holiday, but not as heavy as a traditional roast. I did not have a paella pan, so I used two large skillets.
On a side note, we spent Christmas in Playa del Carmen, Mexico, so our actual dinner on Christmas night was pescado frito. My lesson for this year was that you can still have Christmas without a standing rib roast (although I do love roast beef).
Adapted from Tyler Florence
3 lobster tails, cut in half lengthwise
1 lb jumbo shrimp, shells and veins removed
1 lb mussels, scrubbed and soaked in saltwater
3 chicken thighs, rinsed and patted dry
3 andouille sausages, sliced
1 tsp oregano
2 T smoked paprika
6 cloves garlic, minced
1 onion, diced
14 oz can diced tomatoes
1 1/2 c arborio rice
3 c water or chicken stock
1 pinch saffron threads
1/2 c frozen peas, thawed
1/2 c Italian parsely, chopped
In a large skillet or paella pan, heat the olive oil over medium high heat. Brown the andouille in the pan, then remove and drain on paper towels. Drain the extra fat from the pan if necessary. Season the chicken with salt, pepper, oregano, and smoked paprika. Place in the skillet skin side down, and brown on both sides. Once browned, remove from the pan and place with the andouille. Again, drain off the majority of the fat from the pan, leaving a tablespoon or two in there.
Over medium heat, saute the garlic and onions in the pan until soft and fragrant, about 7 to 10 minutes. Add the tomatoes, the cook until the mixture has caramelized a bit. Season with salt and pepper.
In the 3 cups of warm water or chicken stock, allow the saffron to steep until the water develops a rich color. Add the rice and saffron water to the tomato mixture. Bring to a simmer, then add the chicken and andouille back to the pot.
Simmer without stirring for 10 minutes. Nestle the mussels into the rice, arrange the lobster cut side down over the rice, and cook for 5 more minutes.
Finally, arrange the shrimp and peas over the top of the paella, cover, and allow to cook for 5 more minutes. Add liquid to the pot if the rice does not seem fluffy enough at this point. When the rice and seafood are cooked (the mussels should be open, and the shrimp and lobster should be pink), turn the heat up to high for 30 seconds to brown the rice at the bottom.
Garnish with parsley and serve with lemon wedges. Enjoy!