From my father, I inherited a love for leftovers. When I'm home, I still watch with amazement as he piles everything left on the table after dinner into a tupperware container to bring for lunch the next day. Paella is kind of like that -- except fresh. According to Wikipedia and legend, paella originated when Moorish Kings ordered that servants combine leftovers from royal banquets to send home with guests. It's a believable tale. When researching paella recipes, we discovered that they exist with pretty much any ingredient imaginable. We picked a classic-seeming version, borrowed a beautiful paella pan from a kindly neighbor, and embarked on a crazily intense cooking experience.

Paella isn't difficult to make, but it moves quickly and there are a lot of steps. If we hadn't prepared all of the ingredients in advance, and if we didn't have two sets of hands plus extra helpers, the dish would definitely have not been as successful as it was. It was, however, an enormous success. I attribute the deliciousness to a unique and smoky spice combination, marked especially by the inclusion of a Spanish paprika. The dish was flavorful and beautiful, and though the pan was filled to the brim, it was gone the next day (a significant portion of it in my dad's tupperware.)

Though this was our first attempt at paella, I doubt that we will ever stray from the recipe that we used, even though we made a few minor substitutions. It's from a cookbook entitled Paella!, which we borrowed from the same kindly neighbor who lent us the pan. What's posted below is our version.

Highlight: The squid came with its head on, and Alex dissected it. We saw the ink pouch. If you get the queasies, buy your calamari pre-cleaned.

6 garlic cloves, minced
2 tbsp parsley, minced
1/4 tsp crumbled thread saffron
kosher salt
1 small chicken, cut into its parts (legs, wings, breasts, etc.)
1 squid, cleaned, cut into 1/2-inch rings
1 lb. shimp, shelled
6 chicken sausages, cut into 1/4-inch slices
6 cups chicken broth
5 tbsp olive oil
1 onion, finely chopped
1 green bell pepper, chopped
2 roma tomatos, chopped
2 tsp paprika (preferably Spanish smoked)
3 cups Arborio short-grain rice
2 dozen small mussles, cleaned
1 cup frozen peas
lemon wedges (for garnish)

Preheat the oven to 400. With a mortar and pestle, mash the garlic, parsley, saffron and 1/8 tsp salt together into a paste. Heat the olive oil in a paella pan (17-18 inches at it's widest point). Saute the chicken until browned but not fully cooked (2-3 minutes per side), remove and set aside. Briefly sear the shrimp for about a minute, and set aside as well. Add the squid, saute for a minute, and remove. Add the onion and bell pepper, cook until softened. Stir in the tomato, cook 1-2 minutes, then stir in paprika and rice. Pour the broth into the pan and bring to a boil. Add the saffron paste and continue to boil for about 3 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the peas, sausage and squid, and continue to boil for an additional three minutes, until the rice is no longer soupy, but enough liquid remains to cook it. Arrange the chicken, shrimp and mussels over the rice and transfer it to the oven. Cook, uncovered for about 12-15 minutes, or until the rice is almost al dente and the liquid is almost entirely evaporated. Also, the chicken should be cooked. Remove to a warm spot and cover with foil, let sit for 5-10 minutes until the rice is cooked to taste. Garnish with lemon and serve.

(garlic, parsley, saffron and salt paste in the mortar and pestle)