We love visiting wine country in Northern California, and a recent trip took us to an open invite celebration at Vincent Arroyo Winery. We’ve gone to the winery in the past as we loved their Tempranillo and also because the tasting included a very thorough and scientifically oriented tour of the winery and explanation of how their wines were made. This time when we stopped by, they were serving up paella, and we’ve never seen such big paella pans! Entire gallons of water were poured into these huge pans that were placed on top of pits that appeared to exist for the distinct purpose of serving up paella in heaping quantities, and tools that one usually only associates with gardening were used to move around, mix, and cook the delicious paella.
Inspired, we went home and used our shining new paella pan, albeit a much smaller pan, to cook a seafood version that was more reminiscent of what we had eaten on our Spanish adventure the year before. They’re actually quite affordable on Amazon, the purveyor of all things, and stores fairly well underneath our oven.
- 6 oz shrimp, peeled (reserve the shells for broth)
- 1 small bottle of clam juice
- Pinch of saffron threads
- Kosher Salt
- 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
- 6 oz dry scallops
- 1/4 lb calamari, cut into rings (optional)
- 1/2 onion, grated
- 6 garlic cloves
- 1 tomato, halved and grated on a box grater
- 1.5 cups medium grain rice (bomba rice is great for paella)
- 8 small mussels, 8 small clams
- 2 lemons, cut in wedges
- Make a seafood broth: In a medium saucepan, bring 3 cups of salted water to a boil (if using bomba rice, use 4.5 cups of broth). Add the shrimp shells and clam juice and simmer covered, for about 10 minutes. Strain the broth, and return it to the saucepan. Toast the saffron gently (in a skillet), crumble the threads and add to the broth.
- Saute the seafood: In a 14 in paella pan, heat the oil on high. Saute the shrimp, scallops, and calamari until just cooked through, about 2 min. Transfer to a plate.
- Make the sofrito: Reduce the heat to medium and saute the onion and garlic until the onion softens, about 5 min. Add the tomato, season with salt, and cook, stirring often, until the mixture has darkened to a deep burgundy and is thick like a compote, 15-20 minutes. If it starts to stick to the pan or burn, add a little water.
- Add the rice and cook: Bring the broth to a simmer. Add the rice to the pan with the sofrito, and cook for 1 – 2 minutes. Raise the heat to medium-high. Pour in 3 cups of the broth (reserve the rest) and stir or hsake the pan to evenly distribute the rice. Arrange the clams (if using) in the pan, submerging them as much as possible below the level of the liquid. From this point on, do not stir the rice.
- Simmer vigorously, moving the pan over one and two burners to distribute the heat and to cook the rice as evenly as possible. When the rice is at the same level as the liquid, after 8-10 min., reduce the heat to medium low. Arrange the mussels in the pan.
- Continue to simmer more gently, rotating the pan as necessary, until the liquid has been absorbed, about 10 min. more. Taste a grain just below the top layer of rice; it should be al dente, with a tiny white dot in the center. (If the rice is not done but all the liquid has been absorbed, add a bit of broth and cook a few minutes more.) Arrange the shrimp, scallops, and calamari in the pan.
- Create the socarrat: Increase the heat to medium-high and, rotating the pan, cook for about 2 min., until the bottom layer of rice starts to caramelize, creating a socarrat. The rice will crackle, but if it starts to smell burned, remove the pan from the heat immediately.
- Let the paella rest: Remove the pan from the heat. Cover loosely with foil or a clean kitchen towel and let the paella rest for 5 min. to even the cooking and let the flavors meld.
- Serve: Set the paella pan in the center of a table, remove the foils and dig in! (Optional: Squeeze lemon on pan for taste.)
(serves 4 or 2.5 very hungry people, based on a 14″ paella pan)
From La Paella of www.paellapans.com