Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Seafood Paella

My gardener and I aren't big restaurant people. Dinners seem rushed; often the food and service is mediocre and the noise levels are always louder than we like. (Gee, I make us sound old!)

We usually save dining out for celebrations. But, when we celebrated our 3rd anniversary last month, we decided to stay home and cook a celebratory meal instead of going out, and I couldn't think of a better meal to make than Seafood Paella.

Yes, this looks like a lot of food for two people! Leftovers became our lunch or dinners for the next few days, but it's so good we didn't mind.

There are a lot of steps in making paella and it takes a while, but it's totally worth the time and effort. This took about 3 hours to prepare, so if you're looking for a quick dinner, this isn't it. 

Making the sofrito is essential to the success of this dish. Using a box grater, grate halved tomatoes and discard the skin. Onion and seasonings are added to the tomato which is then cooked until reduced to the consistency of jam. This step alone can take 45 minutes to an hour.
Another step essential to a good paella is letting the rice toast on the bottom of the pan until it becomes crispy. This is called socorrat and is an indication of an authentic, well made paella. Smoked paprika adds a flavor and spice to this recipe that you just won't get with plain paprika.

Do you have a celebration coming up? I guarantee you'll celebrate in style with this dish and you won't have to leave a tip!

Seafood Paella

2 medium onions, finely chopped
1 red bell pepper, diced
1 green bell pepper, diced
4 cloves garlic, finely chopped
2 T fresh parsley, finely chopped
2 large tomatoes
4 T olive oil, divided use
2 tsp smoked paprika
1-1/2 cups Arborio rice
8 oz. clam juice
2 cups stock (vegetable or chicken), heated
Large pinch of saffron
1-1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp black pepper
1/2 cup frozen peas
1# frozen uncooked jumbo shrimp, thawed
1# clams or mussels
2 links Italian sausage, cooked
1 (14 oz.) can artichoke hearts, quartered (not marinated in oil)

1. Using a box grater, process the tomatoes and discard the skin.

2. Make the sofrito: Heat 2 T olive oil in paella pan, and over medium heat, cook the onion, parsley and garlic for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add tomatoes and smoked paprika. Cook until all the liquid from the tomatoes has evaporated and the sofrito is the consistency of jam. This may take 45 minutes to 1 hour. Put the sofrito into a small bowl. Wipe pan clean.

3. Heat 2 T olive oil in paella pan over medium heat. Cook red and green peppers for 8-10 minutes, stirring occasionally.

4. Add the sofrito and rice to the paella pan; stir to coat the rice. 

5. In a medium saucepan, add stock, clam juice, salt, pepper and saffron. Bring to a simmer. 

6. Add hot stock to the sofrito. Stir to combine and bring to a medium-high simmer and cook for 15 minutes without stirring.

7. After 15 minutes, scatter peas over the paella. Push shrimp, clams and mussels into the rice. Top with artichoke hearts and cooked sausage.

8. Turn up the heat to medium-high for a minute or two until you can smell the rice toasting at the bottom, then remove pan from heat. The toasted rice on the bottom of a paella is called socorrat.

9. Cover the pan with foil and let paella rest for 10 minutes.

10. Serve directly from the paella pan along with lemon wedges.