Monday, January 23, 2006

Paella Aplenty

Click image to enlarge.

I'm going to keep this one short but wanted to share a recipe for Paella that I got out of an old Portuguese and Spanish cookbook called, mysteriously, "The Cooking of Spain and Portugal." I modified the recipe significantly since the recipe was practically large enough to serve the combined populations of Spain and Portugal and also because it had way too many ingredients. But the result was stellar which I attribute to fresh, delicious seafood. I am spoiled rotten. My brother, Dick, goes clamming on Cape Cod almost every weekend (year 'round, people!) so I pretty much always have a source for fresh, briny quahogs (hard shell clams, littlenecks, whatever you want to call them). I also think the reason this comes out so wonderful is because it's baked in the oven in a cast iron pan. Can I just tell you, if you do not have a cast iron frying pan, go buy one! They are about $16 at your local hardware store and they last a LIFETIME! I'm worried that the manufacturer of these pans is going to realize that pots and pans that aren't nearly as great to cook with or durable are going for 10 times that amount. I recommend you go purchase one before they come around.

So here's the recipe. Serves about 4 people but you can add more seafood or rice if you want to serve more. Honestly, make this, the juice from the seafood flavors the rice. It's an indescribable flavor you really should experience.

Lynne's Paella

12 quahogs (littlenecks, hard shells clams, etc.)
12 mussels (make sure they close when you close them or they're no good)
1/4 lb. shrimp
1/2 cup onions chopped fine
1 red pepper, seeded, deribbed and cut into small pieces
1 large tomato, peeled, seeded and finely chopped (i think this was the most time consuming step of the whole process but it's necessary so the "sofrito" isn't too watery)
1 tablespoon finely chopped garlic
1/4 cup olive oil
1 and 1/2 cups medium or long-grain rice
2 and 1/2 cups of water
1/4 tsp saffron threads (Whole Foods and other specialty stores carry saffron. You can make it without it but it's worth the effort if you can get it. Not only does it add flavor, but it adds a beautiful warm yellow color to the rice).
1 teaspoon salt
Pepper to taste
2 lemons (1/2 for squeezing over dish when complete, rest for garnish on individual plates)

Equipment:
1 cast iron pan or a thick oven-proof pan like a Creuset. Should be 12" in diameter minimal

Instructions:
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Place a rack in the bottom of the oven since that's where you'll be placing your pan.

Scrub the clams and mussels to remove sand. Remove the "beards" from the mussels if they have any. Ensure both clams and mussels that are open close when you close them or throw them away and use others.

Heat the olive oil over medium-high heat until a haze forms about it.
To make the "sofrito," saute the onions with the pepper, garlic and tomato. Stirring constantly, cook until most of the liquid in the pan evaporates and the mixture is thick enough to hold its shape lightly with a spoon.

To the sofrito, add the water, rice, salt and saffron. Bring to a boil over a medium to high flame. Turn off the flame.

Add your shellfish to the pan. Place the pan on the bottom rack of the oven for 25 - 30 minutes.

Remove the pan from the oven. Stir in the shrimp. The pan is so hot, it will cook the shrimp in a minute or two. If you prefer, you can sauté the shrimp in a separate pan and stir in but it's not necessary. Squeeze half a lemon over all the paella.

Carry the pan to the dinner table and place on a heavy placemat or towels. Everyone can serve themselves from this one pan. Lemon can be put on everyone's plate in case they want to squeeze some additional juice on their serving.


This is so good, people. Please try it. And post your feedback. I'd love to know how you liked this!

2 Comments:

Anonymous Always Bring Tupperware said...

As one of the beneficiaries of this meal, all I can say is it rocks! Great winter comfort food -smells wonderful, tastes even better. And, of course, we had cheese for dessert!

1:04 PM  
Blogger Lynne said...

thank you. and nice handle, "always bring tupperware."

2:28 PM  

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