So, in case you were wondering, it’s been writing-time again in law-law land (HA! They can take my freedom, but they’ll never take my punning abilities!). However, it’s now spring breaaaak wooooooo so I have time to write/cook again!
Starting with this yumminess, which we decided to make after finding paella rice at Formaggio’s, a gourmet shop in Boston/Chris’s new favorite place ever. It was a fun recipe, involving grating tomatoes (surprisingly easier and/or less bloody than anticipated)…
cooking down into tomato-mush-paste…
simmering (without stirring!)…
and watching mussels pop open, which reminded me of those creepy clams in Alice in Wonderland. (Does anyone else remember that, or am I making that up?)
If you want to go all-out, you can follow Annie’s directions and make your own stock, but by the time we got home that night, we didn’t really have time for such nonsense. I don’t really think the flavor suffered, though; it was rich, smoky, tomato-y, and overall a win.
1/4 teaspoon crumbled saffron threads
2 cups clam juice
1 small yellow onion (about 4 oz.)
2-3 ripe tomatoes (about 12 oz.)
1/4 cup plus 2 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
4 cloves garlic, finely chopped, plus 4 cloves garlic, peeled and left whole
1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika
12 large (31-40/lb.) shrimp, peeled with tails intact and deveined
1 lb. mussels, rinsed [Annie’s version calls for using some of those mussels in the stock, but after picking out all the ones that had already opened, I think we were left with just about the right amount]
1 3/4 cups Spanish bomba rice
12 sea scallops
4 cups seafood stock
1. In a small saucepan over medium-low heat, toast the saffron 30-60 seconds. Remove the pan from the heat. Finely crush the saffron threads with the back of a spoon. Add the clam juice to the pan and return to the burner. Bring to a boil. Once the mixture reaches a boil, remove from the heat, cover, and set aside to infuse.
2. To make the sofrito, halve and peel the onion. Grate the onion halves on the large holes of a box grater to get about 1/3 cup of onion puree. Cut the tomatoes in half horizontally. Grate the tomato halves on the box grater down to the skin to get about 1 1/4 cups juicy tomato pulp. Place a 14- to 16-inch paella pan [or the biggest skillet you can find] over medium-low heat. Add 1/4 cup of the oil to the pan. Once the oil is hot, add the onion to the pan, stirring occasionally, until it softens and darkens slightly, about 4 minutes. Stir in the tomato pulp, chopped and whole garlic, paprika, and 1/4 teaspoon of salt. Cook the mixture in the center of the pan, stirring frequently, until it’s deep, dark red and very thick, 30-40 minutes. Adjust the heat as needed, taking care not to let it burn. If the mixture starts to stick, add a bit of water and scrape to deglaze the pan.
3. Add the saffron-clam broth and 1 1/2 teaspoons salt to the fish stock. Measure out 5 1/4 cups of the broth, reserving the remainder.
4. When the sofrito is finished, add the rice to the paella pan and cook briefly over medium heat, stirring constantly to combine, 1-2 minutes. Spread the rice evenly over the pan, increase the heat to high, and slowly add the 5 1/4 cups broth, trying to keep the rice in an even layer. From this point on, do not stir the rice. Bring to a boil and then adjust the heat to maintain a vigorous simmer, repositioning the pan as necessary so it bubbles all the way to the edges. Simmer vigorously until the rice appears at the level of the broth, about 8 minutes.
5. Arrange the mussels in the pan, spacing them evenly [discard any that are even remotely cracked open]. [If you, like me, use jumbo-sized frozen shrimp instead of regular-type thawed, you might want to add those in at around this point, as well. We added them at the end, as the recipe says, and by the time they were heated through, the bottom layer of rice was more, um, burned than caramelized.] Reduce the heat so the broth maintains a more moderate simmer and after another 5 minutes, arrange the shrimp in the pan, pressing them into the rice. Continue to simmer until the liquid is absorbed and the rice is tender but still firm, about 5 minutes more. The rice needs to simmer for roughly 18 minutes total. If the broth seems to be evaporating too quickly, cover loosely with foil or add a bit more broth or water, 1/4 cup at a time as needed.
6. While the paella cooks, lightly season the scallops with salt. Heat the remaining 2 teaspoons of oil in a non-stick skillet over medium-high heat. Add the scallops and cook until nicely browned on both sides and just cooked through, 2-3 minutes per side.
7. When the rice is done, arrange the scallops on top of the paella. Check for any caramelized rice sticking to the pan by using a spoon to feel for resistance on the bottom of the pan. Check in multiple areas, especially the center. If none of the rice is caramelized, increase the heat to medium-high and cook, moving the pan around, until you hear a good deal of cracking and feel resistance, about 1-2 minutes.
8. Remove the pan from the heat. Cover with foil or a dishtowel and let rest 5-10 minutes. Arrange lemon wedges around the perimeter of the pan and serve.
Source: Annie’s Eats