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Originally published Wednesday, October 29, 2008 at 12:00 AM

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Recipe: Really Good Paella

Makes 6 serving, plus leftovers 6 chicken thighs, cut in half crosswise (ask your butcher to do this) Salt and freshly ground black pepper...

Makes 6 servings, plus leftovers

6 chicken thighs, cut in half crosswise (ask your butcher to do this)

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided

1/2 teaspoon saffron threads

7 cups chicken broth, divided

1/2 pound green beans, trimmed

2 large onions, minced

4 cloves garlic, minced

1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes

1 teaspoon smoked paprika (pimenton de la Vera; see note)

1 can (28-ounce) Italian plum tomatoes (preferably San Marzano variety), drained, seeded and chopped

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3 cups paella rice (medium-grain variety such as bomba; see note)

1/2 pound Spanish chorizo sausage (smoked, not raw), cut into 1/2-inch slices

1 red bell pepper, roasted, peeled, seeded, thinly sliced (see note)

12 medium shrimp, peeled and deveined

1 cup shelled fresh or frozen peas

12 small fresh clams or mussels, cleaned

Lemon wedges (garnish)

1. Season the chicken thighs with salt and pepper. Add 1 tablespoon oil to each of two 14-inch paella pans or two 12- to 14-inch skillets set over medium-high heat. When oil is hot, add half of the chicken thighs to each pan and brown on both sides, 15 to 20 minutes. Transfer to a platter.

2. While the chicken is browning, toast the saffron threads in a medium saucepan (at least 2-quart size). Remove from heat and crush the threads with the back of a wooden spoon. Add 1/2 cup chicken broth and bring to a simmer over medium heat, remove from heat and let steep for 10 minutes. Add 5 ½ cups additional broth to the saffron infusion and bring to a simmer; hold until needed over low heat.

3. Divide the green beans between the two pans and saute for 5 or 6 minutes or until the beans are shriveled and beginning to lightly brown. Transfer beans to the platter with the chicken.

4. Remove all but 1 tablespoon of fat from each paella pan and divide the onion and garlic between them. Saute until the onion is translucent. Divide the pepper flakes and smoked paprika between the two pans and saute for another 30 to 60 seconds. Divide the tomatoes between the pans and saute until the liquid from the tomatoes has evaporated and the mixture is thickened, about 5 to 7 minutes more.

5. Sprinkle 1 ½ cups of rice over the onion mixture in each pan. Pour 3 cups of the hot broth evenly over each pan of rice, then arrange the chorizo and green beans on the rice. Nestle the chicken thighs into both pans and bring to a boil; reduce heat and simmer rapidly until the rice appears on the surface of the mixtures, about 5 to 6 minutes. Arrange the roasted red pepper over both pans. Divide the shrimp between both pans and push the shrimp down into the rice. Continue simmering until all of the liquid has been absorbed and the rice is al dente, another 8 to 10 minutes. If all of the liquid is absorbed but the rice is not done, add a little more broth and cook a few minutes more.

6. Cover the pans with foil and cook gently for another 2 minutes to ensure that the top layer of rice is evenly cooked. With the pans still covered, raise the heat to medium-high and cook until the bottom layer of rice begins to brown. You may hear the rice crackling, which is normal, but if the rice starts to burn, remove the pans from the heat immediately. Check the chicken for doneness. Sprinkle peas over each pan and let stand, covered, for 5 to 10 minutes.

7. While the paella is standing, bring the remaining chicken broth (or water if you have used all of the broth) to a boil in a medium saucepan and add the clams or mussels. Cover and simmer for 3 to 4 minutes or until the clams have opened. Arrange the opened clams or mussels over each pan of paella, discarding any that did not open. Serve directly from pan with wedges of lemon to squeeze over the rice.

Note: To roast peppers, place on broiler pan and broil about 5 to 6 inches from the heat source, turning often, until skin is well-charred on all sides. Or, use tongs and hold the pepper over the flame of a stovetop burner. Place in a bag or covered bowl for about 10 minutes. Scrape off blackened skin, but do not rinse.

Bomba rice is available online and at stores that carry a wide selection of gourmet foods. You can also use the widely available medium-grain rice sold by Goya, but do not substitute long-grain rice.

Spanish smoked paprika, also called pimenton de la Vera, is available at stores that carry a wide selection of gourmet foods.

Adapted by Linda Faus from Norberto Jorge and

Fine Cooking magazine, June-July 1999

Copyright © 2008 The Seattle Times Company

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