It's easier to think of this more as a framework than an actual recipe. Paella is actually a very forgiving dish in terms of what you add and what you choose to substitute. I will provide the original listing of ingredients side by side with my improvisations. I recommend following the recipe to the letter the first time, and then as you get comfortable with making it, improvise! This has turned into my signature display dish.
1/4 cup oil (I use olive oil, less because I use fresh, hot dinner sausage, but more on this in a bit)
2 cloves garlic (I tend to use three or four, but you use what you like!)
2 c brown rice (I have used Arborio, jasmine and brown--arborio is AWESOME)
4 cups hot chicken stock (I STRONGLY recommend making your own, will include a recipe below)
1 or 2 T saffron (optional--this is nice if you have in, but totally not a deal breaker if you don't)
3 large tomatoes, cut into wedges (I have also used canned and frozen tomatoes)
2 cups peas, fresh or frozen
6 artichoke hearts, quartered (optional--but REALLY good to have!)
2 sweet peppers, chopped
1 chicken, cooked and disjointed (I usually throw in part of a rotisserie chicken from Costco--if you have chicken breasts or a package of legs, that will work fine, too)
1/4 lb of chorizo (I use a lb of hot dinner sausage)
8 shrimp or prawns (I usually use about a lb of frozen shrimp that I've thawed somewhat under cold running water)
The recipe calls for a large shallow two-handled frying pan, but my biggest one wasn't big enough. I use a stock pot.
Okay, so heat oil and garlic and remove garlic when brown (I leave it in). At this point I also add the chopped peppers, tomatoes and sausage and let that go until the sausage is browned and the peppers are soft and the tomatoes have reduced a little. Add the rice and brown; then add the stock (if you want to remove a 1/4 cup of stock and replace with white wine, that's actually a nice touch).
Cover and steam (LOW heat!) until rice is almost done. Add peas, (you can substitute corn!), artichoke hearts if you have them, chicken and shrimp, mix up, cover and let cook an additional 10 minutes or until shrimp are pink.
And that's it!
Chicken stock is easy to make; put your chicken odds and ends in a pot add a few sticks of celery chopped up and a carrot or two (also chopped) along with a bay leaf, cover with water, and simmer for a couple of hours. Chill the whole pot in the fridge over night and strain the next day, freezing whatever you don't need in 4 cup containers (or whatever you have). It's a great way to use a rotisserie carcass! And it's also a heck of a lot cheaper than buying stock.
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