Paella potluck

Split up the shopping list and ask everyone to bring an apron––it’s a party in a pan

seafood paella

A pan of Grilled Seafood and Chorizo Paella, fresh off the grill.

Thomas J. Story; food styling by Randy Mon

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paella pan and ingredients
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Share the cost: Say you’ve invited five couples. One gets the seafood, a second the chorizo and rice, and a third, the remaining ingredients. (As host, you get to buy—and keep—the paella pan.) The last two couples handle the rest of the meal (see below).

... while sharing the fun: Once every-one arrives, set teams to work chopping vegetables, prepping seafood, making allioli (the Spanish version of aioli), and taking a turn at the grill. And, of course, mixing drinks.

Menu:

RECIPES

Grilled Seafood and Chorizo Paella with Allioli

Serves: 12  Time: 2 hours

Assign 4 people to food-prep duty:

  • 2 lbs. ripe tomatoes, cut in half
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 1 each red and green bell pepper, chopped
  • 2 tbsp. minced garlic
  • 5 tsp. sweet Spanish paprika*
  • 2 tsp. kosher salt
  • 4 cups Spanish Valenciano or Arborio rice
  • 24 mussels, scrubbed, beards pulled off
  • 24 small littleneck clams, scrubbed
  • 24 shelled, deveined medium shrimp with tails (3/4 lb.; 36 to 42 per lb.)
  • 1¼ lbs. fully cured or semicured Spanish chorizo, cut into thin diagonal slices
  • 1 tsp. saffron threads
  • 9 cups reduced-sodium chicken broth, divided
  • 2 cups dry white wine
  • 7 tbsp. olive oil, divided (for grilling)
  • Coarsely chopped flat-leaf parsley

Coarsely grate tomatoes into a bowl and discard skins. Put onion and bell peppers in another bowl. Measure garlic, paprika, and salt into a small bowl. Put rice, seafood, and chorizo each in a separate bowl.

Toast saffron in a large saucepan over medium heat, stirring, for 2 minutes. Add 6 cups broth and the wine, cover, bring to a boil, and keep hot. In a small saucepan, boil remaining broth; keep hot.

Meanwhile, 2 people make the allioli:

In a food processor, mince 4 large garlic cloves. Add 1 large egg plus 1 large egg yolk, 2 tbsp. lemon juice, and 1 tsp. kosher salt; whirl to blend. With motor running, pour in 1 cup extra-virgin olive oil and 1/3 cup canola oil. Add more lemon juice and salt if you like. Chill until used. Makes 1 2/3 cups.

Now, cue the grill:

Heat grill to medium (350° to 450°). Bring prepped ingredients to grill, along with a long-handled wooden spoon, a slotted spoon, and oven mitts. For charcoal: Add 15 briquets to fire just before cooking and cook with lid off until adding seafood. For gas: Keep lid closed as you cook.

Heat a 17-in. paella pan on grill. Add 3 tbsp. oil to pan, then brown chorizo, stirring occasionally, 5 minutes. Using slotted spoon, transfer chorizo back to bowl.

Sauté onion and peppers in pan until onion is softened, 5 minutes. Stir in tomatoes and cook, stirring often, until liquid evaporates and paste turns a shade darker, 10 to 12 minutes. Stir in the remaining 1/4 cup oil and the garlic mixture; cook, stirring, for 30 seconds. Stir in rice, then pat it level.

Carefully pour hot saffron liquid over rice and scatter chorizo on top. Adjust position of grill if necessary so grill and liquid in pan are level. Maintain a steady simmer for 12 minutes, reducing heat (for gas) or airflow through vents (for charcoal grill) if needed.

And finally, add the seafood:

Pour enough hot plain broth over paella so rice is just covered. Arrange mussels around rim of pan, almost touching, pushing them into liquid. Distribute remaining seafood over paella.

Cover grill. Cook until clams and mussels open and rice is al punto (al dente), 6 to 10 minutes. Remove paella from grill, drape with paper towels, and let stand about 5 minutes. Scatter parsley on top. Serve with the allioli.

*Find sweet (unsmoked) Spanish paprika in the spice aisle or at spanishtable.com

The right stuff:

You may need to order these paella items from spanishtable.com or a specialty foods store––the results are worth it.

Paella pan: We like enameled or stainless ones best (avoid carbon steel—it’ll react with the tomatoes). These wide, shallow pans come in different sizes; for this recipe, get a 10-serving pan (17 in. or 42 cm.; $34). You may also be able to find one at a cookware store.

Spanish rice: For good paella, you need short- to medium-grain rice that will absorb lots of liquid without getting too soft. Spanish Valenciano fits the bill ($3.99 for 2.2 lbs.). Or you can substitute Italian Arborio.

Spanish chorizo: Smoked paprika gives it a distinctive flavor. Either of the two basic varieties works here. Fully cured is firm; we like smoky Palacios brand ($9 for 7.9 oz.). Semi­cured is softer; try Chorizo Bilbao by La Española Meats ($10 for 1 lb.), Basque-style with a tart edge.

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