When I think of paella, sadly the first thing that comes to mind is the crummy version of the dish the dining hall used to serve when I was a freshman in college. This is mostly due to that fact that, unfortunately, I never experienced paella till then. I remember feeling extremely unsatisfied and walking over to get a plate of curly fries to fill my hungry and disappointed belly.
Flash forward a few years and I finally get a taste of the real deal. Perfectly spiced, fluffy, savory, and oh-so-delicious paella from an authentic Spanish restaurant. I immediately became hooked on it! However, truth be told-- I never attempted to make the dish until this past weekend. I know, I am a lame excuse for a true paella lover.
I followed Ina Garten's recipe for Lobster Paella, but substituted a few ingredients. Instead of lobster, I opted for shrimp (about 1 1/2 lbs; seasoned with salt, pepper, cayenne pepper, olive oil; roasted in the oven in 375 degrees F for about 10-15 minutes), added chicken (about 1 lb), and used a leaner turkey Kielbasa. The recipe also called for a bit of licorice flavored liqueur, such as Pernod or Absinthe, but I didn't have any available. Also, I was very skeptical at the thought of using such an odd and distasteful flavor. However, several reviewers say that the ingredient does add an incredibly wonderful layer of flavor and perhaps when I have some of the liqueur on hand, I will give it a go. Until then, you just really need to know that the recipe is wonderful as is even without the Pernod.