Seafood Paella

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Seafood Paella by Momma_Dukes
Not to be confused with *AUTHENTIC Valencian Paella*

You will need 2 ¼ cups of seafood stock. You can cheat by buying it from the grocery, but it is easy to make at home and freeze for future use. I save up my seafood shells and bits and freeze them until I have a gallon baggie full. Heat a gallon of spring water to a simmer, all while adding the following: I cup of white wine, the frozen seafood shells and bits, a large quartered onion, a large carrot and one stalk of celery, both cut into big chunks, 3 bay leaves, 1 tablespoon of salt, 1 teaspoon of crushed saffron*, 1 teaspoon of fresh thyme, and a teaspoon of black pepper. Continue to simmer until the stock is reduced by half. Strain the stock, discard the seafood shells and then use or freeze the stock in portions.

*Saffron can be so expensive; you can substitute Sazon Goya con Azafran, a Spanish seasoning, but then omit the salt from above. And note that the seasoning packet contains MSG. If you live where Mexican products are sold, you may be able to find Mexican saffron, which is cheaper. Then save your good saffron for the actual paella.

Preheat oven for 450 degrees (F). Set a ceramic stone on the bottom shelf. (This is the only way that you can hope to achieve a crusty bottom in the oven.)

Prepare the seafood:
Wash and scrub any shell fish that suits you. For example: mussels, clams, crab, or lobster. Clean and prepare scallops and shell shrimp, if using. Try to prepare the seafood in a manner where the food will cook evenly. For example: break the lobster and crab down into serviceable pieces. If the lobster claws are very large, steam them for 5 minutes before adding. Set the seafood aside and keep cool.

Paella ingredients (in order of use):
1 cup of diced onions, ½ cup of roasted red peppers, 1 ½ teaspoon of smoked paprika, 1 teaspoon of crushed saffron, 1 teaspoon of salt 2 tablespoons of olive oil, 1 cup of crushed San Marzano tomatoes, 1 cup of short grain rice (Bomba or Arborio), ½ cup of halved cherry tomatoes, ½ cup of cooked white beans (canned okay if rinsed) and 2 ¼ cup of heated stock.

Using a paella pan*, sauté the first 5 ingredients (onions through salt) in the olive oil until the onion are soft. Add the crushed tomatoes and cook for 2 minutes. Then add the remaining ingredients and mix well. Continue to cook the rice mixture over medium low heat until the mixture begins to thicken, about 5 minutes. Add the seafood to the dish, pushing the items slightly into the mixture and keeping in mind the final presentation. Bake for 25 minutes until most of the broth is absorbed. Take out of the oven and place it on a medium-high flame for 5-7 minutes. (You are hoping for a crusty bottom! So don’t worry if the edges are browning…it is a very good thing!) Take the paella off of the heat and cover immediately. Let it rest for 15 to 20 minutes.

*It is the pan that makes this dish. If you have a paella pan use it, if not, a wide cast iron pan is an adequate substitute.

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