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Author Notes: Last Christmas, I had a fun, large holiday dinner party and served this paella. It was very festive and made for a great one-dish meal that could just be served with bread and a salad. I created it by pulling ideas from some of my favorite paella memories and came up with something everyone liked. I have a large grill area beside my stove and was able to cook the paella on that and then pop it in the oven to finish it. Finishing paella in the oven is a great way to get a crisp on the rice. Alternatively you could place the paella pan, or other large saute pan over 2 eyes of the stove and cook that way. Or just cut the recipe down. Warning: there is a lot prepping to this dish, but most can be done ahead of time. I recommend making the broth ahead of time to allow the flavors to continue to meld. (Half of the ingredients in the list are just for the broth.) The garlic parsley paste can also be done ahead. This will save a lot of time, and make pulling the dish together during a party pretty easy. —TheWimpyVegetarian
- 3 pounds shrimp, deveined but unpeeled
- 3 cups clam juice
- 1/2 teaspoon saffron threads, crumbled
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 5 sprigs parsley
- 2 sprigs thyme
- 5 dried peppers (I used a mixture of de arbol and guajillo)
- 4 large ripe tomatoes (divided)
- 4 pounds clams, washed and debearded
- 1 cup dry white wine
- 2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
- 2 heads of garlic, peeled (yes, that's heads, not cloves)
- 1 1/4 cups flat leaf parsley (leaves only)
- 1 tablespoon kosher salt (to taste)
- 1 tablespoon Spanish paprika (to taste)
- 3 tablespoons olive oil
- 8 links of andouille sausage, sliced into 1/2" rounds (chorizo sausage can be used too)
- 3 red bell peppers, diced
- 3 orange bell peppers, diced
- 3 green bell peppers, diced
- 1 1/2 cups yellow onion, diced
- 1/2 - 1 teaspoons dried red pepper flakes (to taste)
- 4 1/2 cups paella rice (you can substitue risotto rice if you don't have paella rice)
- 1 1/2 pounds bay scallops (if you can only find large scallops, cut them in half or thirds)
- Remove the shells from the shrimp and set aside for the broth. Salt the shrimp lightly and set aside until ready to add it to the paella. If doing the clam broth ahead of time, refrigerate the shrimp until ready to use.
- Make the clam broth: This is one of the most important steps in making this dish as you are creating the flavor base for the paella rice. In a large pot, bring 6 cups of water plus the clam juice, the reserved shrimp shells, saffron, salt, parsley, thyme, and dried peppers to boil over medium-high heat. Cut 2 tomatoes in half and grate them on a cheese grater all the way down to the skin. Add the grated tomatoes to the clam broth including their juices and discard the skin. When the clam broth comes to a boil add 2 pounds of clams. Cover the pot for 5-10 minutes until all the shells open up. Remove with tongs, remove the meat from the shells, and set aside discarding the shells (unless you want them for decoration in the final dish).
- Once the clams are removed, add the wine and lemon juice. (Cooking clams in wine can sometimes cause a slightly metallic flavor, so I add the wine after the clams are removed.) Bring back to a boil and simmer for 1 hour to completely meld flavors. Broth can be made a day ahead but should be reheated to a simmer before adding to the paella.
- In a blender or mini-food processor, finely chop the garlic, parsley, salt and Spanish paprika to form a thick paste. Add a little olive oil if necessary. This will be very spicy, but will be added to a large amount of broth and rice so the final effect will be very muted. This step can also be done the day ahead.
- Preheat the oven to 400F. In a paella pan or other large pan you will use to cook the paella, heat the oil and cook the sausage. If the sausage is already cooked, cut into slices and brown. Add the peppers and onions and saute until soft and very fragrant. Add the dried red pepper flakes.
- Grate the last 2 tomatoes, adding the tomatoes and their juices to the paella pan, discarding the skins. Add the garlic / parsley mixture to the pan and cook for 3-4 minutes. Add the rice and stir so that the rice is covered with the vegetable / spice mixture. Cook for 2-3 minutes.
- Strain the broth and add it to the paella pan. Stir well and cook until the mixture is no longer "soupy" but has enough liquid to continue to cook (about 20 minutes). Add the shrimp, 2 pounds of uncooked clams, and scallops to the paella and fold into the rice mixture well. Essentially steaming the seafood in the rice in the oven has been a very effective way for me to prevent overcooking the seafood. Transfer to the oven for 20 minutes or until all the clams have opened up and the rice is tender. Once the clams open up, the shrimp and scallops should be done too.
- Remove from the oven and add the reserved meat from the clams used to make the clam broth. Sprinkle with the reserved 1/2 cup parsley leaves.
- Serve with bread, salad and Spanish wine.
- This recipe was entered in the contest for Your Best Paella