Paella on the GrillSteven Raichlen
This recipes uses traditional ingredients including chorizo, chicken, shrimp, squid, clams and mussels. If you prefer a vegetarian version, you can find one here.
Paella on the Grill
- Yield: Serves 4
- Method: Direct grilling
- Equipment: Logs or chunks of hardwood for the fire or hardwood chips (soaked in water for 30 minutes, then drained); paella pan; grill hoe; Tuscan grill (optional—helpful if working on a wood fire).
- 1/4 teaspoon saffron threads
- 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, preferably Spanish
- 1 medium onion, finely chopped
- 1 red bell pepper, cut into 1/4-inch strips
- 1 cured chorizo sausage (about 6 ounces), thinly sliced (see Note)
- 2 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
- 3 tablespoons finely chopped flat-leaf parsley
- 1 ripe tomato, seeded and cut into 1/4-inch dice
- 2 cups Valencia-style rice, such as Bomba or Calaspara
- 1/2 cup dry white wine
- 4 to 5 cups chicken stock (preferably homemade)
- Coarse salt (kosher or sea) and freshly ground black pepper
- 1 fryer chicken (3-1/2 to 4 pounds), cut into 8 even-size pieces
- 1/2 pound large shrimp, peeled and deveined
- 1/2 pound squid, cleaned, cut into 1-inch pieces, and skewered on bamboo skewers
- 12 littleneck clams, scrubbed
- 12 mussels, scrubbed
- 1/4 cup cooked green peas (or if you have an unbelievable amount of patience, use fresh peas skewered on a slender bamboo skewer)
Step 1: Place the saffron in a small bowl with 2 teaspoons warm water. Let soak for 5 minutes.
Step 2: Set up your grill for direct grilling and build a 3-zone fire. In the best of all possible worlds, you’d build and work over a campfire. Alternatively, you’d work on a large charcoal grill (like a Weber Ranch) or gas grill. If working on a charcoal grill, toss a log or some wood chunks on the fire to generate smoke. If working on a gas grill, place the wood chips in the smoker box or in a smoker pouch.
Step 3: Place the paella pan over the hottest part of your fire. Add the olive oil and a piece of onion and heat until the onion sizzles boisterously in the oil. Add the remaining onion, the bell pepper, and chorizo and cook over high heat, stirring with a long-handled implement, like a grill hoe, until the onions begin to brown, about 4 minutes. Add the garlic, parsley, and tomato halfway through (after 2 minutes). If the mixture starts to burn, slide the pan to a cooler part of the grill.
Step 4: Stir in the rice and sauté until the grains look shiny, 1 minute. Stir in the soaked saffron and wine and boil for 1 minute. Stir in 4 cups stock and adjust the heat (by moving the paella pan closer or further away from hot part of the fire) to obtain a gentle simmer. Gently simmer the rice until soft, about 20 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the 5th cup of stock if needed, and add salt and pepper to taste. While you’re at it, season the chicken pieces, shrimp, and squid with salt and pepper.
Step 5: Meanwhile, on another part of the fire (if working on a campfire, position your Tuscan grill over the embers), grill the chicken pieces, starting skin side down. This will take 6 to 8 minutes per side, working over a medium-high heat. Once the chicken pieces are crusty, brown, and cooked through, add them to the paella. After about 12 minutes, place the clams and mussels on the grate and grill until the shells pop open. Transfer the bivalves to the paella with tongs, taking care not to spill the juices. Brush and oil the grate and place the shrimp and squid on the grate. Grill until firm and white, 1 to 2 minutes per side. Add the shrimp and squid to the paella. In the event you have been obsessive enough to skewer the peas, place on the grill and grill until lightly browned and cooked through, 1 to 2 minutes per side. Unskewer the peas over the paella.
Step 6: Taste the paella for seasoning, adding salt and pepper as needed. If you’ve done this right and the stars are in alignment, the rice will be tender just as all the stock is absorbed and the proteins are cooked. You may need to add more stock or you may need to cook the rice a little longer to absorb any excess stock. Don’t worry—your paella will only improve in the process. Serve at once, with a crisp dry Spanish wine, like an Albarino or Txakoli. Get ready for the best paella on Planet Barbecue.
Note: If using raw chorizo, available in bulk or stuffed into casings like sausage, please cook thoroughly before using.
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