Paella is a renown Spanish dish with its characteristic golden colored rice flavored with saffron. There are many versions of paella and just about any protein and vegetable that goes well with rice can be added to the dish. It may contain chicken, pork, fish, shellfish, beans, peas, artichokes, or peppers. As such it can easily be tailored to your own liking.
I made an over the top Lobster Paella for the family last week since we were still in holiday mode. I had bought 4 lobster tails when they were on sale and Ro-Ri San suggested that I used them for the paella. I am glad I took his suggestion as the dish turned out beautifully. The rice was plump and tasty and the seafood juicy and succulent. It was totally delicioso!
Paella is best cooked in a large shallow pan. A paella pan has a wide, shallow cooking surface designed for the ease of sauteing meats and vegetables prior to adding rice. It is usually made of carbon steel which facilitates even heating and will become naturally seasoned with use. The wide handles make it easy to carry the pan from oven to table. Paella pans come in a range of sizes – 13½-inch for 6 people; 15-inch for 8 people; 17-inch for 10 people; 22-inch for 16 people. They do not come with lids as paella was traditionally cooked over an open fire uncovered.
Instead of using my 13½ inch paella pan, I decided to try out my new Le Creuset 3½ quart enameled cast iron buffet casserole. This gorgeous pan is about 12 inches in diameter and is slightly deeper than the paella pan. The cast iron construction provided even heating. There was a nice caramelized layer of toasted rice known as socarrat at the bottom of the pan when the dish was done.
The types of rice recommended for paella are short grain Bomba and Callaspara. Since they are not to be found in my neck of the woods, I used short grain Calrose rice. Perhaps it is the holiday season but I also had a hard time getting chorizo this time. Definitely use chorizo where possible.
When seafood is added to the pan, it gives out some liquid. I like to pop the entire pan into the oven to finish the cooking and dry out the liquid so that the rice remains fluffy and not soggy.
- ¼ cup (60ml) extra virgin olive oil
- 2 chorizos about ½ lb (225g), cut into ¼ inch thick slices
- 1 onion, chopped
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 red bell better, cut into 1 inch strips
- 2 tomatoes, cubed
- 2 cups (400g) short grain rice, washed and drain
- 2½ cups (600ml) chicken stock
- ½ cup (120ml) dry white wine
- 1½ tsp salt
- ¼ tsp pepper
- ½ tsp saffron threads
- 12 oz (340 gm) salmon, skin removed and cut into ¼ inch thick slices
- 1 lb (450g) mussels, scrubbed and debearded
- 4 lobster tails about 5 oz (140g) each, cut into half lengthwise
- ½ cup chopped flat leaf parsley
- 1 lemon, cut into wedges
Heat olive oil in a 34 cm paella or large shallow pan. Brown chorizo for about 3 to 4 minutes. Remove and set aside.
Saute onions, garlic, red bell pepper, and tomatoes for 3 minutes. Add rice and stir fry for another 3 minutes.
Pour in chicken stock and white wine.
Crumble in the saffron. Season with salt and pepper. Return browned chorizo to the pan. Cover, reduce heat and allow it to simmer for 12 minutes.
Preheat oven to 350°F (180°C).
Arrange salmon and mussels all around the pan. Then place lobster halves on the top. Cover and cook for 6 minutes.
Remove lid and transfer pan to the oven. Bake uncovered for 10 minutes to finish cooking.
Remove from oven and let it sit on stove top lightly covered with aluminum foil for 10 minutes.
Serve with chopped parsley and lemon wedges.
We enjoyed the dish so much that I had request for a repeat performance yesterday. No lobster this time, just shrimps, salmon, and sausages. I also added green peas and artichokes. I am happy when the boys are happy. Only 1 pan and 4 plates to wash!
Enjoy…..and have a wonderful day!