How many meals can check off all of the following? Nutritious. Unexpected. Fun. Delicious. For us, paella is communal comfort food. It's relatively easy to pull together and is a delightfully indulgent dish that suits nearly everyone. For the gluten-intolerant, rice is a welcome relief from pasta, and the recipe is easy to modify further for other dietary needs. Here's our founder Laura's just-so-slightly decadent, but still sustainable (natch) version.
She sources all of her ingredients locally (even the chorizo comes from a local sustainable farm in California), and likes to follow the classic Spanish version for inspiration. Her recipe changes a little each time depending on what's in season and looks for the most sustainable seafood options (see SeafoodWatch.org).
One of her favorite delights when biting into paella is the famous soccarat, the crispy rice at the bottom of the pan. Her tip to achieve it, "Don't over stir it! People like to stir and stir and stir and that's exactly what you don't want to do." Read on to learn more about how to achieve the famous soccarat.
Be sure read our interview with Chef Danny Lledó of Washington D.C.’s Xiquet and his secrets to making his famous paella.
- Cook Time
- Prep Time
- 8 to 10Servings
- 8 cups of fish or chicken broth
- 2 pounds of fresh chorizo, casings removed
- 2 medium, or 1 large onion diced
- 6 garlic cloves smashed and chopped fine
- 3 ½ cups of chopped fresh tomatoes (or a 28 ounce can of whole tomatoes chopped)
- 2-3 pinches of saffron threads dissolved in 4 tablespoons of water
- 1 pound of large shrimp, shelled and deveined
- 1 pound of mussels scrubbed and debearded
- 1 pound of cockles or clams scrubbed and rinsed
- 1 pound of scallops or calamari
- ½ cup dry white wine1/4 cup of of fresh lemon juice
- 2 tablespoons of flat leaf parsley, roughly chopped
- 2 green onions, thinly sliced
- Lemon wedges for serving
Heat two paella pans (about 13” each,) or one large one (about 18" - 20", or you can use a wide bottom skillet like this) over medium heat. Add one pound of chorizo sausage to each pan. Cook over moderate heat, breaking it up with a spoon, until the fat is rendered and the chorizo is cooked through and lightly browned. Remove the chorizo from the pan, and set aside in a bowl (do not clean the pan; the rendered fat will be used to cook the remaining ingredients and add flavor).
Make the sofrito. Add half of the onion and garlic to each pan with the chorizo renderings. Sweat the onions and garlic over medium heat until translucent and starting to brown. Stir in the chorizo, tomatoes, rice, and saffron water. Gently stir until the rice is fully covered with the sofrito mixture.
Slowly add half of the broth to each pan. Gently stir the rice mixture until it is evenly distributed throughout each pan. Do not stir after this point. Cook for about 10 minutes.
Meanwhile, season the shrimp and scallops with salt and pepper. In another large skillet, heat ¼ cup of olive oil over medium heat until shimmering. Add shrimp to the skillet, and sear evenly on each side, about 2-3 minutes total. Remove the shrimp from pan and set aside. Add more oil to the pan if necessary, and cook the scallops 1-2 minutes on each side, until cooked through. Remove the scallops from the pan.
Wipe out the skillet. Pour in the wine and lemon juice. Add the clams and mussels, cover, and cook, shaking the skillet gently until the mussels open about 3 minutes. Remove the shellfish from the pan and set aside. Pour the shellfish sauce over the paella mixture.
Cook the paella mixture for about another 10-15 minutes, undisturbed (do not stir, this is an important step to create the socarrat, the crusty goodness on the bottom of the pan). Once the water has been completely absorbed, crank up the heat for another two to three minutes. Remove from the heat.
Arrange the cooked shrimp, scallops, and shellfish across the top of the paella pans. Sprinkle with roughly chopped parsley and green onions.
Place one or two trivets (depending on how many pans your using) in the middle of your table and place the paella pans on top. Garnish with lemon wedges if desired, and and serve immediately, directly from the pan.
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