This is largely due to my foodpickle question earlier last week. I tried to incorporate the aggregate knowledge of the community and internet at large. The basis is from Tyler Florence's Paella but I made some modifications. First off, I cooked this over a wood fire in a cast iron skillet, which i feel helped it taste more authentic. Secondly, I made a lot, I used a whole 2.5 lbs bag of rice. I originally started cooking with only 4 cups of rice but ended up using the whole bag, which i cooked seperately. Really wished I had known about the contest when I made this...I would have gotten a really pretty plated photo for you all. I'll also try and get my friends testimony on this. —jdeslaur
12 (at least)
cloves of garlic (chopped)
whole canned tomatos
Italian Parsley (chopped)
Arborio (or a more suitable short grain rice)
Large (21-25 count) shrimp, deveined and peeled
crawdad tail meat
Red Bell pepper (garnish)
Salt and Pepper
red pepper flakes
In This Recipe
Start a fire using lump coal as the base and wait until it looks like its ready to cook on. I used a chimney for mine and I wait for the coal on top to turn red.
Place cast iron skillet on the grill. Heat oil and add the Chorizo, cook for 5-7 minutes turning the sausages to make sure they don't burn. Once done take out sausages and reserve. Take the red bell pepper and place on the grill off to the side, wrapped in aluminum.
Take the whole chicken and remove any parts you don't want to include. Cut off wings and legs and try and get as much meat off as possible. Rub down the meat with salt, pepper, oregano and paprika. Cook chicken until skin is crispy. Remove from pan and reserve.
Now we take the garlic, shallots and parsley and saute for 2-3 minutes. Take the canned tomatoes, drain, crush by hand and add to the mix. Cook until the mix starts to caramelize.
Now, saute the rice in the mix (sofrito if you are Tyler), make sure the rice gets good and coated, saute until the rice starts to turn slightly brown. I need to note at this step I only had 4 cups of rice in pan, which is most of the 2.5 lbs bag of rice that I bought. I later cooked the rest because the rice-everything else ratio was a little low.
Before adding all the liquid make sure to dissolve some saffron into the chicken stock by warming it up. Pour the liquid into the rice stir-fry you have going. And grab a drink, you have some time. You might also want to assess the how your fire is doing at this point.
(OPTIONAL) make chicken stock out of the chicken carcass, left over garlic and shallots that you have. I used this for my second batch of rice and crawdad meat defrosting.
After half of the liquid has been boiled off from the rice add in the mussels, clams and scallops. Fold the shellfish into the rice. And let it sit.
After another 10 minutes (or so) add in the shrimp and do your best to fold in the shrimp without disturbing the bottom of the pan. This is the true mark of paella, the cooking. The goal is to get a single layer of crispy burnt rice bits on the bottom.
At this point I ran out of space in the skillet (full disclosure), so i have a separate dish for the Chorizo, chicken, remaining rice and crawdad meat.
Since this is all done by a wood fire time is a bit tricky. I could tell you that it took me 2 hours to make this and for you that amount of time could either give everyone serious food poisoning from undercooked seafood or burn it into nonrecognition. I judged by what the top of the paella was doing, since i had some shrimp and clams on top i just waited until the clams opened and the shrimps were pink.
Remove from heat, (i had to combine my separate bowls) garnish with some chopped parsley, lemon wedges and red bell pepper and red pepper flakes.