Paella

Paella is Spain’s classic dish of saffron-infused rice combined with various meats and seafood. I love making this simple version on our Big Green Egg. It’s one of my favorite dishes to make for guests as an early dinner on Sunday afternoons.

It looks a little complicated, but it’s really only about a half hour or so of prep work, and another 45 minutes or so on the grill.

Ingredients

3 cups chicken broth
1/2 pound small raw shrimp, shelled
1/2 pound cleaned calamari, cut in rings
1/2 pound bay scallops
2 boneless, skinless chicken breast, cut into 2 inch chunks and lightly salted
1/4 lb of Spanish cooking chorizo, cut in 1/4 inch slices
1 (14.5 ounce) can petite diced tomatoes, undrained
1 red or yellow bell pepper, cut into 2 inch strips
1 1/2 cups Bomba or Calasparra rice
1 cup fresh or frozen peas
1 medium onion, chopped
4 cloves garlic, chopped
2 teaspoons of sweet smoked Spanish paprika
1/2 teaspoon of saffron
Olive oil
Lemon wedges, to garnish

Heat the broth with the saffron and the paprika. Keep warm and nearby.

Get your grill up to medium-high (about 400°F). You want to provide a wide, even heat that can be maintained with the lid open. You don’t want any hot spots. You can do this on most grills by cooking indirectly, or by using a diffuser like a pizza stone under the pan.

Use a shallow metal pan with about a 13-14 inch bottom. I really like this enameled paellera, but you could also use a chef’s pan. Add enough olive oil to cover to the bottom well. Heat the oil for a few minutes and then add the chicken pieces and fry until brown. Remove the chicken to a plate.

Add the chopped onion and garlic. Saute until the onion is soft. Add the tomatoes and cook until they break down and the mixture thickens and darkens. Add more oil if needed. This is the sofrito – it adds a lot of depth to the dish and provides a base for the rest of the dish.

Add the rice and chorizo and saute 1-2 minutes.

Stir in the chicken broth and try to spread the rice out as evenly as possible. Once you have a relatively uniform layer, leave it alone. The rice needs to sit undisturbed on the bottom of the pan to developed the tasty brown crust called the soccarat.

Arrange the browned chicken, scallops, shrimp, calamari, pepper, and peas on top of the rice. Try to make it even and pretty. Close the lid and lower your grill temperature to 350°F degrees. Cook undisturbed until all the liquid is absorbed – about 30 minutes.

Once the liquid is gone, bump the heat up to 400°F and start listening closely. The paella will start to crackle, and you might smell a toasted odor that tells you the rice is browning and forming the soccarat. Test by running a spatula under the rice to feel for a slightly bumpy bottom. Once you feel this, remove the paella from the heat.

Let the paella rest 5  minutes before serving.

2 thoughts on “Paella

  1. Chris

    I haven’t braved trying a paella yet, mostly because I don’t want to screw it up and waste my precious horde of saffron threads :)

    Looks like you nailed it.

    1. Dave Post author

      Yeah, the good stuff isn’t cheap. Try the cheap Mexican saffron and just do the rice – no meat or veggies. If you can get the rice right you’re good. I’m only about 50/50 with getting a good soccarat, so I’m gonna start trying to do just the rice with a decent soccarat as a side dish.

      Let us know how it goes.

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