When it comes to outdoor summer cooking, burgers, ribs and bbq come to mind. But our personal favorite meal to cook outdoors is paella. Though paella can be cooked any time of year on a stove, the smokiness that comes from cooking over a wood-burning fire will enhance the flavor of the overall dish. So light the fire pit, grab the paella pan, and invite your friends for a great outdoor meal that everyone will remember.
Paella is a dish that originated in Valencia, Spain. Named after the giant pan that it is cooked in, Paella recipes come with many forms and ingredient combinations, but our paella calls for a few essential ingredients.
Medium grain rice, such as bomba or callaspara rice, has the right texture for paella and soaks up all of the flavors of the dish. Saffron threads give the paella a yellow color and distinct flavor that can’t come from any substitute. Spanish chorizo will give the paella a spicy and smoky taste. Hot seafood stock, preferably homemade, is the best liquid base to cook the rice. A licorice-flavored liqueur, such as Pernod, will enhance the seafood flavor of the paella.
We recommend building the fire pit with a mix of hard wood and wood-charcoal briquettes. This will give a nice smokiness and consistent heat for the large paella pan. Build the fire and allow it to burn down to hot coals. While the fire burns, prep your ingredients.
- 2.5 cups Rice (bomba or callaspara rice preferred)
- 2 lobsters, halved (ask your fishmonger to do this)
- 1-2 lbs. medium wild shrimp, peeled and deveined
- 1 lb. fresh calamari, cleaned and cut into rings
- 1-2 lbs. chicken breast, cut into one inch pieces
- 1 lb. Spanish Chorizo, cut into ½ inch thick rounds
- 7 cups hot seafood stock (homemade stock preferred)
- ½ cup licorice-flavored liqueur (Pernod is preferred)
- 3 bell peppers cut into strips
- 2 cups thawed petite peas
- 2 cups chopped leaks
- 2 Tbs. minced garlic
- 1 Tbs. Smoked Parika
- 2 tsp. Saffron threads
- 2 lemons cut into wedges
- ½ cup extra virgin olive oil
- ½ cup fresh chopped parsley
- Kosher salt to taste
Making the Paella
- After paella pan has become hot over the fire, drizzle the olive oil and begin sautéing your sofrito. The sofrito is the base of aromatic ingredients that is sautéed in olive oil. For our paella, the sofrito is composed of chopped leeks, garlic, and chorizo. Add these ingredients to the olive oil, one by one, layering the flavors.
- Once your sofrito is sautéed and fragrant, add the chicken and calamari to the pan and sauté for three to four minutes. Next add your smoked paprika and toss ingredients once more. Then, add your rice and toss until ingredients are combined.
- Once the rice has been combined, add hot seafood stock, one cup at a time, and stir as you go. After the stock is added, mix the saffron threads into your paella.
- Now that the stock and saffron is mixed in, restrain the urge to stir your paella until the liquid has boiled down and the rice has cooked. Not stirring your paella will allow a toasted, flavorful crust known as the soccarat to form on the bottom of the pan.
- After the liquid has boiled down, add your Pernod and stir the Paella to incorporate the liqueur. Next, add your bell peppers, shrimp, lobster and petite peas. We recommend covering the pan with tin foil and allowing the heat to cook your final seafood ingredients.
- Once the shrimp is cooked and the lobster has turned red, sprinkle the paella with fresh parsley. Serve paella with lemon wedges, and be sure to scrape some of the soccarat on the bottom of the pan onto each plate. Enjoy!
Recipe By Calvin Virgilio