Recipe: Grilled Seafood Paella

My husband and I just celebrated our 11th year wedding anniversary. We decided it would be our idea of a good time to make a really amazing paella. Then, I noticed that the traditional 11th year gift is steel, making the purchase of a steel paella pan totally appropriate. The meal turned out so amazing, that I thought I would share it here.

For this paella, we used our super new paella pan on our super old gas grill (still haven’t pulled the trigger on the new one I have been dreaming of). The pan didn’t quite fit, so we rotated it every now and then. This turned out to be some of the best paella we’ve ever had, actually beating out the paella my husband just ate in Barcelona.

We did a couple of things with this recipe to make it special for the occasion, like doling out for the full Bomba rice at $24 a pound! We also made the full broth, which added a good bit to the prep time. To make this more of an everyday recipe later, we’ll probably scale back on the rice, try the alternative broth recommendation, plus try out some other shortcuts.

RECIPE ADAPTED FROM THIS ONE AT FOOD AND WINE

  • ACTIVE: 1 HR 30 MIN
  • TOTAL TIME: 2 HRS
  • SERVINGS: 6

BROTH
This is a quick broth that is rich and wonderful, but you can substitute fish stock or three parts bottled clam juice diluted with one part water. After adding the broth, don’t stir the paella again so a deliciously crisp bottom crust will form. It’s important to have all the ingredients and two heavy-duty oven mitts ready grill-side before you start.

  1. 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  2. Reserved shrimp shells (see below)
  3. 1 medium onion, thinly sliced
  4. 1 small carrot, thinly sliced
  5. 3 tablespoons tomato paste
  6. 1/4 cup dry sherry
  7. 2 quarts of water
  8. 6 large garlic cloves, chopped
  9. 4 thyme sprigs
  10. 2 bay leaves
  11. 1 large chipotle chile in adobo
  12. Large pinch of saffron threads
  13. Salt
PAELLA
  1. 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  2. 4 scallions, cut into 1-inch lengths
  3. 1 small onion, finely chopped
  4. 1 large poblano chile—stemmed, seeded and cut into 1/2-inch dice
  5. 1 3/4 cups short-grain Spanish rice, such as Valencia or Bomba
  6. 2 medium tomatoes, chopped
  7. 1 cup fresh corn kernels
  8. 1/2 pound green beans, preferably flat Romano, cut into 1-inch lengths
  9. 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  10. Large handful of woody herb sprigs, such as rosemary or thyme
  11. 1 1/2 pounds medium shrimp, shelled and deveined, shells reserved
  12. 1 1/2 pounds small mussels, scrubbed and debearded
  1. In a large saucepan, heat the oil. Add the shrimp shells and cook over moderate heat, stirring, until browned, about 5 minutes. Add the onion and carrot and cook, stirring, until the onion begins to brown, 5 minutes longer. Stir in the tomato paste and cook for 2 minutes, stirring. Add the sherry and boil for 1 minute, then add the water and return to a boil. Stir in the garlic, thyme, bay leaves, chipotle and saffron and simmer over low heat for 25 minutes.
  2. Strain the broth into a saucepan, pressing hard on the solids; you should have 6 cups. Season with salt. Cover and keep warm over low heat.
  3. Light a grill. If using charcoal, build a large fire that will last at least 30 minutes. Start more coals in a chimney starter to feed the fire. If using a gas grill, set the center burner on high heat and the side or front and back burners on low.
  4. Place a 14- to 16-inch paella pan or a 14-inch stainless steel roasting pan over a medium-hot fire. Add the olive oil and heat until sizzling. Add the scallions, onion and poblano. If using charcoal, move the pan over to the cooler side of the grill; if using gas, reduce the heat to low. Cook, stirring with a large wooden paddle or spoon, until the vegetables soften, about 5 minutes. Add the rice and cook, stirring, for 2 minutes. Stir in the tomatoes, corn, green beans and salt.
  5. Add the hot broth to the rice; shake the pan to distribute the rice evenly. Move the pan to the hotter part of a charcoal grill or increase the heat to moderately low on a gas grill. If using charcoal, scatter the herbs over the coals. If using a gas grill, place the herbs in the smoker box or scatter over the heat bars. Cover the grill and let the paella cook, shaking the pan once or twice, until the broth has been absorbed and the rice is almost tender, about 20 minutes. The rice should cook at a steady simmer; add hot coals to the fire if it starts to fade.
  6. Scatter the shrimp over the rice and nestle the mussels in the paella, hinge side down. Cover the grill; cook until the shrimp are pink and the mussels open, about 5 minutes. Discard any mussels that do not open. Using a large wooden paddle or spoon, transfer the seafood paella to plates, scraping up the crusty rice from the bottom of the pan, and serve.
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