Making paella as an entertaining dish is pure genius. Once you have prepped the ingredients, it’s just a matter of adding them in the proper order to cook everything together in a flavorful homemade stock infused with a large pinch of saffron.
The beauty of paella? Anything goes. In this version, I’m using spicy chorizo, clams, and shrimp.
Have the shrimp peeled and all the vegetables chopped and diced before you begin, and don’t discard any bits; you’ll use them all to make the stock, essential for adding depth of flavor to the final dish.
Serves 6 to 8
- 1 Spanish onion, peeled and diced (about 1 1/2 cups), skin and discards reserved
- 1 green pepper, diced, discards reserved
- 1 red pepper, diced, discards reserved
- 1 yellow pepper, diced, discards reserved
- 1 pound raw shrimp, peeled and deveined, shells reserved
- 1 bay leaf
- 2 tablespoons peppercorns
- 2 lemons, cut into wedges
- 1/2 teaspoon saffron
- 4 tablespoons olive oil
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 pound spicy chorizo sausage, sliced into 1/4-inch rounds
- 2 cups fresh or frozen peas
- 2 cups Calasparra or bomba rice
- 1 cup dry white wine
- 1 pound littlenecks or other small clams, purged and well rinsed
- Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
- Lemon alioli, for serving (recipe follows)
For the Stock
In a large stockpot over medium-low heat, add the vegetable discards, shrimp shells, bay leaf, peppercorns, and half a lemon. Add 5 cups of water, bring to a boil, and simmer for 20 minutes, until reduced to about 4 cups of stock.
Strain through a fine sieve and discard all the solids. To this warm stock, add the saffron, crushing it with your fingers. Set aside.
For the Paella
In a 13-inch paella pan over medium heat, add the olive oil, onions, and garlic and sauté until soft. Add the peppers and sauté until slightly soft. Add the chorizo and sauté until it begins to release some of its juices and coats the vegetables with the pimentón. Add the peas and stir to coat well with all the other ingredients. (You can prepare up to this point in advance; when you’re ready to finish and serve the dish, bring it back to a simmer before you add the rice.)
Add the rice and stir well. Simmer for a minute or so, for the rice to start absorbing some of the flavors. With the back of a spoon, flatten the ingredients to create a flat surface. Pour over the wine and the stock and bring to a boil. Lower the heat and simmer for 15 minutes. Season with salt and ground pepper; taste to adjust.
Arrange the shrimp on top in a pattern around the edge of the pan, and pile the clams in the center. Cook for 5 minutes, or until the shrimp is cooked through, the clams are mostly open, and most of the liquid evaporates. Taste to make sure the rice is nearly cooked and remove from the heat. If there’s a bit of liquid left, the rice will absorb it as it rests, and the clams will finally open. Cover with a kitchen towel or a lid and rest for 10 minutes before serving.
Serve garnished with lemon wedges and lemon aioli.
I make this alioli in the blender to yield a thick, cream-like sauce that is super flavorful. Garlic does grow in strength as it ages, so if you make this aioli in the morning or the day before, use less garlic if you don’t like its intense flavor.
- 2 garlic cloves, peeled and roughly chopped
- 2 egg yolks
- 1 large egg
- 4 tablespoons lemon juice
- 1/4 teaspoon sea salt
- 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 1 cup extra virgin olive oil
In a blender, blend together all ingredients except the olive oil. With the motor running on the lowest setting, pour the olive oil in a thin stream and blend until the mixture emulsifies and thickens, about 1 minute.
Transfer to a sauceboat and chill until ready to serve.