This dramatic seafood paella looks stunning with shellfish and is a big crowd pleaser any time of year. We enjoy whatever looks good at the seafood market, adding it in the last few minutes to make each bite its succulent best!
1 large yellow or sweet onion, small dice
A medley of colorful bell peppers (equivalent in size to one large pepper), small dice
1 large heirloom tomato, small dice
3 chicken thighs, medium dice
1/4 cup olive oil
4 garlic cloves, crushed to a paste or finely chopped
2 tsp sweet paprika
A good pinch of saffron threads
2 cups Spanish paella rice (also called “bomba” rice, calaspara rice, arroz redonda)
5 cups homemade seafood stock (or chicken stock), plus more if needed
1/4 cup dry white wine (chardonnay is wonderful)
1 pound 16/20 prawns, clean and deveined, tail on
1 dozen mussels, scrubbed and debearded (or clams, if you can get them)
1 pound of halibut bits (thin pieces) or a fish of your choice
Garnish: Fresh parsley and lemon slices. Serve hot.
Fry the onion in the oil in a 16-inch paella pan until soft, stirring often. Stir in the garlic, and let it caramelize (brown). Add the peppers and cook an additional ten minutes, then add the tomato and cook ten minutes more until reduced to a jammy sauce.
Stir in the wine, paprika, and saffron and cook until the wine has reduced.
Add the rice and stir well until all the grains are coated. (You can prepare the dish to this point up to an hour in advance.)
Bring the stock and wine to a boil in a saucepan. Pour over the rice, bring to a boil, and add salt to taste (even if the broth tastes a bit salty, it will not be salty when it is absorbed by the rice). Stir well and spread the rice out evenly in the pan (do not stir again). Cook the rice over low heat for 18 to 20 minutes, moving the pan around and rotating it so that the rice cooks evenly. Add a little more hot stock toward the end if the rice seems too dry and you hear crackly frying noises before it is done. When the rice is done, turn off the heat and cover the pan with a large piece of foil.
Arrange your seafood on top of the paella. It won’t take long (5-10 minutes or so) for the prawns to become succulently orange in color and the fish to be cooked through. Flip them after five minutes. Do not overcook at this point! Succulent is good!!
As soon as the mussels or clams have opened, they are cooked. Throw away any that have not opened.
Add 4 quartered small artichoke hearts or bottoms, fresh or defrosted frozen, a good handful of peas, green beans or broad beans cut into short lengths, or roasted red peppers, cut into strips, with the rice. (I did this for book group)
If you want to use lobster, ask the fishmonger to cut a live lobster into pieces. Boil it for minutes only, until it turns red. Or boil it whole and cut it up.
Adapted from several recipes over the year, specifically a “Party Paella” recipe clipping from an old magazine which doesn’t seem to have the credit line anymore.