Fast and Easy Shrimp "Paella" (Arroz de Gambas)

Makes 4 servings
Time: 30 minutes, somewhat unattended

José protested repeatedly that my dish was "an arroz, not a paella," the distinction in his mind being that paella must be cooked in a paella pan. Fine. Although I believe paella is almost any rice-and-anything-else-dish from Spain (and I know plenty of non-fussy Spaniards who'd agree), let's call this Arroz de Gambas, a dish that not only bears a distinctive resemblance and similarity in flavor to paella, but tastes great. Got that?

4 cups shrimp shell stock (see sidebar) or chicken stock
Pinch saffron (optional but very nice)
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 medium onion, minced
About 1 teaspoon pimenton
(Spanish paprika; see sidebar, page 183) or other paprika
1 teaspoon ground cumin
2 cups Spanish (or other) short grain rice
2 cups raw peeled shrimp, cut into 1/2-inch chunks, shells reserved for stock
Salt
Minced fresh parsley, for garnish

1. Preheat the oven to 450°F. Warm the stock in a saucepan along with the saffron, if you're using it. Place an ovenproof 10- or 12-inch skillet over medium-high heat and add the oil. A minute later, add the onion and cook, stirring occasionally, until translucent and soft, about 5 minutes. Add the paprika and cumin and cook 1 minute more.

2. Add the rice and cook, stirring occasionally, until glossy, just 1 or 2 minutes. Stir in the shrimp, season liberally with salt, and add the warm stock, taking care to avoid the rising steam. Transfer the skillet to the oven.

3. Bake about 15 minutes, until all the liquid is absorbed and the rice is dry on top. Taste for salt, then garnish with parsley and serve immediately.