To celebrate the publication of my book, Kosher Sutra, we decided to have a paella party. It is a strange feeling to have finally completed the book and hold it in my hands. Anyway, you can order it from Amazon and Barnes and Noble. Or ask your local bookseller to get it for you. It is available in paperback and all the usual e-book formats.
But that’s not what this blog post is about. It is about paella. Living in Mexico, we are surrounded by not only Mexican cooking, but Spanish cooking. And, to me, Spanish cooking is all about paella.
I’ve made paella in a skillet on the top of the stove, but I wanted to make it the “real” way – on the grill. Our friends brought over their very well-used paella pan and we had a party!
The day before the party, I grilled the chicken thighs and the shrimp. About an hour before our friends came over, I steamed the mussels and clams in chicken broth laced with saffron. While we sat in our courtyard, having cocktails and marinated mushrooms, we got the grill going.
This was so much fun that we’re buying our own paella pan next week and we’re planning a neighborhood party.
Paella on the Grill
Serves: 8 -10
8- 10 chicken thighs
1/4 cup olive oil
Salt and pepper
18 medium to large shrimp, peeled and deveined
2 pounds clams, scrubbed
2 pounds mussels, de-bearded and scrubbed
8 cups chicken stock
1 large pinch saffron
1 large Spanish onion, finely chopped
6-8 cloves garlic, finely chopped, divided
1 pound Spanish chorizo, thinly sliced
4 cups short grain paella rice
1 cup peas, fresh or thawed
1 jar piquillo peppers, thinly sliced (6 or 8 peppers), or fresh red bell peppers
1 cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
The Day Before or the Morning of the Paella Party
Note: I guess if you have two grills, you can grill the chicken and shrimp as the rice cooks. We are a one-grill family so this is how I do it!
Grill the chicken and shrimp. Brush the chicken with some of the oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Place the chicken skin-side down on the cooler part of the grill (the outer rim), to cook indirectly and slowly, and put the lid on. Cook the chicken until golden brown on both sides and completely cooked through, about 15 minutes. Remove to a sheet pan.
In the meantime, marinate the shrimp in olive oil and garlic for a few minutes. Put the shrimp on skewers and grill for about 1 minute per side.
Let the chicken and shrimp cool and refrigerate for the next day.
One Hour or so before the Paella Party
Combine approximately 1 cup chicken stock and saffron in a medium saucepan. Add clams, cover and bring to a boil. Cook until the clams open, about 5 minutes. Remove the clams to a bowl. Add the mussels to the broth, cover and cook until the mussels open, about 5 minutes. Transfer to a bowl. Discard any shellfish that don’t open.
Add the rest of the chicken stock to the clam/mussel broth. Heat the broth until warm, but not boiling.
During the Party, when having cocktails
Light coals. When very hot, heat 3 tablespoons olive oil in a large paella pan over direct heat. Add the onions and cook until soft. Add the garlic and cook for 1 minute. Add the chorizo and cook, stirring occasionally, until brown and crisp, about 5 minutes.
Add the rice and cook, stirring constantly, for a few minutes. Begin adding the stock, about 1 cup at a time and cook, stirring constantly, until the rice is al dente, about 25 minutes.
Arrange the chicken, clams mussels, shrimp, peas, and piquillo peppers in the rice. I covered the paella for a few minutes, just to heat everything up again. Scatter the parsley over the top. Stir gently to bring some of the rice up from the bottom, and serve.