Friday, June 10, 2016

Seafood Paella

Well, we found another great use for our Santa Maria-style grill - Paella! My paella pan is 18" so is too large to fit over one burner on the cooktop, but too small to fit over two. The grill not only solved that problem but also allowed the pan to be cranked to and from the heat to adjust the cooking temperature. Paella is a Spanish rice dish that is typically seasoned with a "sofrito" (stir-fried onion, garlic, parsley, bell pepper, tomato), saffron & paprika, then cooked with an assortment of seafood and/or meats such as chicken, rabbit, snails, chorizo, etc. In this version, I used seafood (clams, mussels, shrimp, and lobster tails) and some chopped kielbasa sausage since I didn't have Spanish chorizo on hand. 

Two 6" lobster tails, split and skewered  (optional)
1 lb. shell-on medium shrimp
1 lb. mussels
2 lbs. manila clams (these are smaller and sweeter than Littleneck clams)
1 lb. chorizo or kielbasa, sliced

*Other possible additions: calamari/squid rings, monkfish, scallops, crab, chicken

Parsley Paste:
2 tbsp. flat leaf parsley, chopped
8 cloves garlic, chopped
1 tbsp. fresh thyme leaves
1/8 tsp. kosher salt
2 tsp. sweet paprika

Six 8-oz bottles clam juice
1 cup water
1 tsp. saffron threads

5 tbsp. olive oil
1 medium onion, finely chopped
1 green bell pepper, seeded and chopped
1 red bell pepper, seeded and chopped
3 scallions, chopped
One 15-oz. can diced tomatoes

2 cups Paella rice

1/2 cup green peas (frozen ok)

1. Add all the ingredients for the parsley paste (except for the paprika) in a mortar. Grind with a pestle until a paste forms. Stir in the paprika. Set aside.

2. Heat the clam juice and 1 cup of water in a small sauce pan until it just comes to a boil. Turn off heat and stir in the saffron. Set aside.

3. Prep your grill by adding charcoal and heating until the charcoal is white hot (if you have a smaller paella pan and don't want to use a grill, go ahead and heat it over a burner on your stovetop).

4. Place the paella pan over the heat and add 5 tbsp. olive oil. Add the chopped onions, green and red bell peppers, and scallions. Stir and cook until softened. Add the sausage and toss briefly. Add the tomatoes and cook 5 minutes. Stir in the rice and cook about 1 minute.

5. Add the clam juice mixture and bring to a boil. Cook for 3 minutes, stirring occasionally. 

6. Stir in the parsley paste and taste for salt (add a scant 1/2 tsp. more, if needed). After this point, do not stir the rice any more. Raise the pan a bit from the charcoal (or lower the heat on the stovetop) and simmer for 10 minutes, adding more liquid if needed. Do NOT cover.

7. Arrange the shellfish over the rice and sprinkle the top with green peas.  Cook another 15-20 minutes until the rice and shellfish are just cooked through.

8. To serve: garnish with parsley leaves, julienned piquillo or roasted red peppers, and lemon wedges on the side.

Clam juice

Small lobster tails (split in half lengthwise using kitchen scissors), clams, and mussels.

To keep the lobster tails from curling during cooking, I skewer them lengthwise with 
bamboo skewers.

Saffron threads dissolved in clam juice and water.

Chopped onion, kielbasa sausage, green bell peppers, scallions, diced canned tomatoes, diced red bell pepper, and parsley paste.

Here's Gil, making the "sofrito" (veggies sauteed in olive oil with chopped kielbasa).

Tomatoes added.

Rice added.

After about a minute, stir in the clam juice mixture and parsley paste. 

Bring to a boil and cook about 3 minutes.

Raise the pan a bit off the heat and simmer for 10 minutes, uncovered.

Add the shellfish and sprinkle the peas over the top. Cook another 15-20 minutes until the shellfish and rice are just cooked through.

Remove the pan from the heat, cover lightly with foil and let rest 5 minutes before serving.

Feel free to garnish with parsley leaves, julienned piquillo or roasted red peppers, and lemon wedges on the side.

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