Back a couple weeks ago we had an al fresco evening where we made risotto and came to appreciate just how much work is involved when you order this at a restaurant. Last week we had a paella night to celebrate the purchase of our new Paderno 24cm paella pan, and, once again, we came to appreciate the skill and art chefs go to when you order this.
Paella is a Spanish everything-in-a-pan dish that is most often served with seafood and chicken. Course, having said that there are as many variations of paella as there are stars in the sky.
Our version was seafood with aborro rice and a fresh sausage, clams, mussels, shrimp and two types of scallops (bay and giant). Prepping all this takes time. Precook the sausage and cut up. Clean the clams thorough and clean and debeard the mussels. Prep the scallops and de-vein and de-shell the shrimp. ALWAYS make sure you toss any clams that don’t open when you cook them and ALWAYS make sure you toss any mussels that don’t open once cooked.
To make this dish you
need to create a sofrito, which is a mixture of tomatoes, garlic and
onion and hot pepper which you cook down till it’s dark and pungent.
7) use a box grater to grate down the onions and tomatoes (discard the skin); 8) they will become very pulp like but that’s what you want
While you make the sofrito, you can also be preparing the broth you’ll use to cook the dish and rice with. To do so, first roast some saffron threads. Saffron is a wonderfully earth spice that will turn things yellow. It is very expensive and make sure you splurge and buy good quality! While the saffron roasts, take the discarded shrimp shells and let them come to a boil in some chicken or veggie stock then reduce and simmer away. Once the saffron is roasts, crush it in a mortar and pestle and add into the stock.
With things prepped you can now pre-cook the shrimp, sausage and scallops and set aside. Then add the rice to the sofrito mixture and combine well. Pour in the stock and let it mix.
16) pre-cook the seafood; 17) add rice to the sofrito and mix; then 18) add in the stock and let cook down
Finally add in the mussels and clams and cover to steam open.
19) adding in the clams and mussels; 20) cover and cook rotating on medium-high heat till the rice starts to caramelize and form a socarrat