In high school, I somehow managed to travel to Spain not once, but twice. I have no idea how I got so lucky. Over two summers, I spent time in Barcelona, Madrid, Segovia, Zaragoza, Toledo, Oviedo, Cudillero, and Gijón. Everything about it was amazing and everything we ate was seafood. I'm talking endless fish, octopus, and massive shrimp with the heads still on. And I didn't appreciate it at all.
I was not a seafood person. The smell of fish made me gag and popping the heads off shrimp was not even the tiniest bit appealing to me. I would be presented with a plate of beautiful, fresh seafood, and I'd stuff it all into a giant baguette until all I could taste was bread. I wasn't even into octopus! If I could go back in time, I would slap myself silly.
Now that I am obsessed with seafood (and live between two mountain ranges with little access to seafood), I can share my seafood paella with you. The best thing about working on a paella recipe is that I get to make and eat paella, like, every night. And that is exactly what I've done for the past week.
This is actually the perfect party recipe. I've written the recipe for 4, but you just need to double the paella part of the recipe for a larger crowd. I wouldn't go further than doubling it unless you have a ridiculously large cast iron on hand. I mean, I use a pan that's 18 inches in diameter for serving 8, and it takes up my entire grill! Doubling the recipe can easily feed a party of 15+ by loading up on chicken, sausage, and seafood.
But back to what a great party recipe this is... All the prep and clean up is easy and can be done before guests arrive. All you need is sa food processor, a knife, a cutting board, and some plastic baggies, so clean-up is a breeze. Once guests arrive, you can hang out outside and socialize with your guests because all the cooking is done on the grill. It's also such a show stopping dish. You'll easily impress your guests with barely any effort. That's the goal. Lazy girls rejoice.
Serves roughly 4 very hungry adults
for the P A E L L A
- 2-3 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 tbsp smoked paprika
- 2-3 bay leaves
- 1 healthy pinch of saffron
- 1 bunch of fresh parsley
- salt and pepper
- 1 large (or two small) heirloom tomato
- 2 lemons
- olive oil
- truffle oil
- 1 small jar stuffed green olives. I use olives stuffed with blue cheese, but garlic or pimento should work as well.
- 1 cup rice (i know bomba rice is more authentic, but I use jasmine or basmati rice because my Kroger only sells bomba rice in TWO POUND bags)
- 2 cups chicken or seafood stock
- 1 ½ cups sofrito
- your choice of surf and turf. I always seem to use 16 oz shrimp and 2 lobster tails (split because everybody wants a lobster tail). Then I will also add clams (usually around 12), sea bass, and/or chicken breasts. You can also add mussels, prawns, cod, halibut, monkfish, and chorizo.
S O F R I T O
- 1 ½ lbs onion
- 1 red bell pepper
- 1 yellow bell pepper
- 2 peppers (Serrano, Habanero, or Padròn)
- 1 handful chopped cilantro
S H R I M P M A R I N A D E
- 1 ½ teaspoon paprika
- ½ teaspoon cumin
- ½ teaspoon nutmeg
- 1 teaspoon crushed red pepper
- ½ teaspoon cayenne
- ½ teaspoon onion powder
- Salt and pepper, to taste
- Olive oil
L O B S T E R M A R I N A D E
- ½ cup oil
- 1 ½ tablespoon lemon juice
- 1 ½ teaspoon smoked paprika
- ½ teaspoon crushed garlic
Let's Get Cooking:
01. Prep your ingredients. Like I said, this is the perfect party recipe. Do all this before the party, clean it up, and the rest of the cooking can be done using a cast iron pan and the grill.
- Make the sofrito by roughly chopping the onions and peppers and removing the stem from the fresh cilantro. Toss it all into a food processor, and store in the fridge for later.
- Crush the tomatoes using your hands, a grater, or the food processor. Make sure you don't lose any of the juice. I opted for the food processor since it was getting dirty anyway.
- Mince the garlic or just embrace the laziness and buy pre-minced garlic.
- For chorizo: Cut into ¼ inch slices.
- For chicken: Parboil the chicken. Bring a pot of salted water to a boil, chop the each chicken breast into 6 pieces, and boil the chicken peices for 6 minutes. Remove chicken from pot and discard the water. Toss the chicken in a plastic bag with the juice of 1/2 a lemon and some chopped parsley. Store in the fridge.
- For clams: Keep submerged in fresh tap water for at least 20 minutes before grilling.
- For mussels: De-beard the mussels and scrub the shells. Discard any that are open or cracked.
- For shrimp: Peel shrimp. Combine ingredients for shrimp marinade in a sealable plastic bag. Toss in marinade, seal bag, and store in fridge.
- For lobster: Halve the tails and make marinade by combing all ingredients . Do not combine, set both aside in fridge for later.
02. PARTY TIME! Heat a large (at least 12-inches in diameter) cast iron pan over a medium-high grill
03. Add oil, and when the oil is hot, toss in minced garlic, smoked paprika, and chorizo. Let the chorizo brown a bit. Put the chicken on the grill at this time to caramelize it. If you are using fish, add it to the pan now.
04. Add 1.5 cup of sofrito. Lightly fry the pepper-onion mixture, add the crushed tomatoes, and stir. Once the tomato juice has been soaked up/reduced a bit, add the rice. Let it toast and then toss in a splash of wine and give it all a good stir.
05. Add the chicken/seafood stock, olives, saffron, bay leaves, and grilled chicken to the pan. Stir and cover the pan with foil for 15 minutes.
06. Skewer the shrimp and grill (don't forget to flip). Brush lobster tails with marinade and put them flesh side down on the grill. Keep basting the lobster as it grills & especially when you flip it. Put the clams and mussels on the grill in a single layer, let sit until they open. Cut the remaining lemon in half and put the three remaining lemon slices on the grill slice side down.
07. Check on the pan. If all the liquid is absorbed, add the seafood to the pan. Try to keep as much of the liquid from the clams in the shell when transferring it to the pans.
08. Use the charred lemons halves as garnish along with the fresh parsley. Drizzle with truffle oil and serve straight out of the cast iron.
FINAL NOTES: There will be a layer of burnt rice at the bottom of the pan. Scoop that shit up. It's the best part. You'll also have some leftover sofrito. Sofrito actually means lightly fried, so to finish it, toss it in a pan with some olive oil over medium high to high heat. It will keep in the fridge for three weeks and keep frozen for 3 months. It can be used as a base for so many easy weeknight recipes, just turn to Pinterest!
& don't forget to pin the recipe for later!