This is my entry into the Seafood Challenge.
I’ve wanted to try this for some time and finally got up the nerve to do it. Yep I’m hosting a Paella Party! Which a pretty full house of guests (10 total) coming I hope it turns out well. Now, after surfing the Web I came to realize that there is no one recipe to follow as everyone did something different. So this is a combination of 3 or 4 recipes I found on the web taking things I liked from them all. (Bear with me as this is a long one)
The first thing I learned was you don’t use regular (long grain) rice. Traditionally you’d use a short grain variety called Bomba rice. I couldn’t find this variety but Arborio rice (used to make Risotto) is supposed to be a good substitute so that’s what I used.
The second thing I learned was you need a wide, shallow and flat, heavy bottom pan to cook it in. They make “Paella” pans that are just for this. Unfortunately I didn’t have one nor do I have the room for such a specialized pan. I did however have a 15”, flat, heavy bottom braiser pan. It’s not shallow but I can control the ingredient amounts to make the paella level shallow inside the pan.
The third thing I learned was that it all about the prep work before you start the cooking process. Everything needs to be cut up, portioned and ready to be put into the pan in the proper order. The order all depending on how long it takes to cook.
Here are most of the ingredients. (Chicken and squid not shown)
Clams and mussels
Prawns (There were alive yesterday)
1 lb. of U15 shrimp.
Before my guests arrived I made up some white Sangria and put it in the fridge for the flavors to meld together.
O.K., here I’m getting started on the Paella.
I sliced and diced up all my veggies. (In my hurrying around I forgot to put these Red Bell Pepper slices on)
I de-boned the chicken thighs.
And made stock with the bones.
As I don’t possess a Mortar & Pestle I put the Saffron threads into a 1 cup Pyrex measuring cup and used a spoon to crush them.
I then put 1/2 cup of white wine in with them and brought this to a boil in the microwave to pull out all the flavor of the Saffron.
I then cut up the sausage into ¼” slices. (Use Spanish Chorizo if you can get it. I couldn’t find this so I use Portuguese Linguica)
Chicken stock is ready. (I poured in 1 container of store bought stock to what I made and continued to reduce)
I peeled the shrimp and reserved shells to make up a Shrimp & Saffron Stock. I put the shells into a sauté pan with a little EVOO and sautéd until they started to turn orangey pink in color. Now I added 1/2 cup of clam juice, the Saffron broth, 4 cups of chicken stock and simmered for 20 minutes.
While that was simmering I lit the kamado.
I then took everything (but the red bell peppers) out to my gas cook top.
I heated up some OO and seared the chicken thighs. Removed and reserved. (Note: Unless you have a very wide burner (which I didn’t) you’ll need to rotate your pan every couple of minutes for even heat distribution)
I then cooked up the Linguica. Removed and reserved.
Now heated the onions and bell peppers until they start to wilt.
Added the minced garlic and continued to cook for another minute or 2.
Now the 2 diced tomatoes and continued to cook until it starts to caramelize and then add 3 bay leaves.
Now add the rice in the shape of a cross.
Stir the rice into all that flavor goodness and let it toast for 2 to 3 minutes. (Until you start to hear some cracklin)
Now add the wonderful (and still hot) Shrimp and Saffron broth. You should hear some sizzling when it hits the pan. Shake the pan to try and level everything out and do not stir it again.
Now evenly redistribute the chicken and Linguica into the pan.
Move it over to your pre-heated (to 425) kamado and let this cook for 15 minutes. (I forgot to add the peas and green beans until after the picture)
After 15 minutes you’ll notice the liquid has reduced nicely. Now I add the mussels (too many) and the squid and cook for 2 minutes.
Now I add the shrimp and cook for 1 minute.
Now I add the clams and cook for 2 minutes and then finally add the prawns and cook for 5 minutes.
I now checked to see if my rice was done. There was still quite a bit of liquid bubbling as the mussels and clams had opened up, releasing their juice. (there were too many mussels) So I open the lid and let my fire get really hot to try and reduce the liquid further. Ideally you want the liquid to be almost completely absorbed and a slight crust start to form on the bottom of the pan. After most of the liquid was gone I took the pan inside and added some fresh lemon wedges.
Poured the Sangria.
I garnished with parsley and it’s ready to serve to my quests. Here are those pics.
Here’s the money shot below.
OMG! Having never made this before I’ll have to say it was a lot of work but it is sooooo worth it. Flavor was unbelievable. The actual cooking isn’t that hard so long as you’ve done all your prep work beforehand. I urge you all to give this a try.
Last night was Paella night at BGC's house. This is a family favorite! This one has chicken, sausage, clams and jumbo shrimp.
This recipe was inspired by a trip to Spain last summer. My family and I ordered a traditional Spanish paella at a fine restaurant. It was terrible and ridiculously over priced. I was determined to create a recipe that was delicious, yet still encompassed the traditional saffron infused flavors.
Here's the recipe:
By Smoke and Awe
All the stars were aligned so I could finish my paella today, and we're almost ready to eat. Just a beautiful Indian summer day, but I know some of you aren't so lucky. Anyway, I used a 13" paella pan because I knew it was just smaller than the diameter of my Akorn Jr. and the handles are flat out so I could almost close the dome completely (see picture). I used a canning rack and "holy" pizza pan on top to stabilize the paella pan inside the Akorn. I cut the recipe in half because we didn't want to eat paella every day for the next week, but it worked out and I'm happy with the results. Also, since this was my "test" recipe, I did not include mussels, just chicken thighs (cut in 3 pieces) chicken sausage with jalapeño and jack cheese, and some shrimp at the end. Also threw on a few roasted cherry tomatoes I had in the fridge for some more color.
Sear the sausage and remove from the pan
Brown the chicken thighs, cook through and remove from the pan (Note: I lowered the lid during each step, just not all the way)
Cook sofrito, add garlic when almost done
Add rice and stir to coat.
Add pecan wood chips for a little smoke
Add broth and saffron mixture, stir to level rice
Lay chicken and sausage pieces back on top
Cook until liquid is absorbed
Lay shrimp on top, cook until done
Remove from heat and cover with foil for 5 min.
Garnish with chopped parsley to serve
Now that I've done it once, I think I could be a little more relaxed next time, but really it wasn't that hard. I'm not sure I got the soccarat right, maybe a little more crusty, but since I was using such a large pan for the small amount, I was wary of burning, plus my pan wasn't exactly level. (I could have used my smaller paella pan, but it was in use for the pork butt on the Vision.) I tried to show the bottom on the plate, but anyway...
Should I cut the handles off my paella pan to close the lid of my kamado? I like to cook paella on the grill, but the gas grill I had before didn't stay as hot as I would like. My paella pans (2 different sizes) have steel loop type handles that are riveted on and get in the way of closing the lid. They aren't expensive pans, $25-$35 or so.
I am new to Kamado cooking and have read that the lid should be closed for cooking. Should I make paella with the lid open or cut the handles off? I am open to other suggestions too.
So ... this is it!! The final day of the 30 days. And I really wanted to do something special .. something that pushed me out of my comfort zone, and something that I'd maybe never done before. One of the things that has always intimidated me a little - even on a standard stove, much less a kamado - is paella. It's such an iconic dish that I was always a little afraid to attempt it.
Then @atx33 posted his paella last month and it kind of clicked for me. Or .. at least it didn't intimidate me quite so much.
So ... I picked up some saffron (which I'd never cooked with before) at Penzeys:
I also made sure I had the right kind of rice - a good medium grain one.
After getting my grill up to about 425°, I added in a little olive oil to my BRAND NEW, never been used before paella pan!
All of my ingredients were ready to go (not pictured are the shrimp and mussels which stayed in the fridge until the last minute:
I started out with the chorizo:
Then added the chicken thighs (split) and let them get nice and browned.
Then I added in the onion, pepper
And then the chopped tomato:
I let that cook down for a few minutes and the poured in 2 cups of rice (plus the garlic, saffron, and other spices):
After stirring that around and letting it toast a bit, I added roughly 3 cups of my homemade chicken broth:
.... to be continued ....