PAELLA ON THE BEACH – recipe and action plan

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Ingredients

  • 2 tablespoons sweet pimenton (Spanish paprika), divided
  • 2 teaspoons dried oregano
  • sea salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
  • 4-6 saffron threads (approx. 1/2 tsp)
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 2 Spanish chorizo, thickly sliced (about 8 ounces)
  • 6 chicken thighs
  • 4 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1/4 cup chopped parsley
  • 1 pound dead-ripe tomatoes
  • 4 fresh red peppers, whole
  • 4 cups medium grain rice – Valencia, bomba, or calaspara (or Goya Medium Grain)
  • 6 cups chicken stock
  • 16 shrimp, peeled and deveined
  • 2-3 dozen clams or mussels, scrubbed
  • 2-4 cups fresh shell beans, green beans, or snap peas
  • 1/4 cup chopped parsley
  • 1 lemon, cut in wedges

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PAELIA ON THE BEACH CHECKLIST

Cooking with Fire:

○ hardwood (enough to fill 15 gallon rub twice:)

○ kindling and matches

○ grill grate

○ beach rocks to support grate over fire

○ shovel

○ oven mitts/fire proof gloves

Cooking Items:

○ paella pan

○ wooden spoon

○ 2 sharp knives

○ cutting board

○ tongs

○ aluminum pan

○ aluminum foil

Serving Items:

○ sturdy dinner plates

○ forks and knives

Practical Items:

○ large plastic tub (15 gal) for dirty dishes and utensils

○ trash bag

○ paper towels

Optional:

○ small table for prep

○ small table for serving

○ tablecloth for serving table

Prepped Ingredients in a Cooler:

○ spice-rubbed chicken

○ scrubbed clams and mussels

○ wine with saffron

○ sofrito (garlic, onion, parsley)

○ chorizo, prepped shrimp

○ peppers, beans or peas, tomatoes

○ chicken broth

○ olive oil

○ parsley and lemon garnishes

AHEAD OF TIME IN THE KITCHEN

Prep the following and pack in airtight containers and chill. Just load them all in a cooler when you’re ready to hit the beach.

Mix together 1 tablespoon pimenton, oregano, 1 teaspoon salt, and black pepper and rub all over chicken. Chill for at least an hour to season.

Crush the saffron into the wine.

Chop garlic, onion, and parsley together to make the sofrito.

Thickly slice the chorizo.

Shell beans; or cut green beans; or snap peas into bite-size.

Crush or chop tomatoes.

Peel and clean shrimp.

WHILE AT THE BEACH

Start the fire about an hour before you want to cook, two hours before you want to eat.

You want a good bed of embers and a small continual fire when cooking time: comes.

Set up your grate and rocks so that the pan will be at least 3-4 inches above the flame.

While you’re waiting to start the paella, warm up your cooking skills by roasting the red peppers until evenly blackened. When they are cool enough to handle, slip off the skins, and slice. Set aside as an eventual garnish.

COOKING THE PAELLA

Allow about an hour to cook. Have all your ingredients in readiness, and an aluminum pan or other heat-proof vessel standing by to hold items temporarily. (If you have a large enough paella pan, and as you become an experienced paella cook, you may no longer need this extra piece of equipment. Just push the par-cooked items to the cooler edge of the pan.)

Warm up the paella pan over the heat, then coat its bottom with olive oil.

Sauté the chorizo for about 3-4 minutes, then remove and reserve.

Add more oil if needed, then brown the chicken on both sides (about 6 minutes) – remove and reserve.

Pick up the pan from the fire for a moment to allow to cool. Add the safrito, and cook and stir about 2 minutes, or until fragrant. Return the pan to the fire when the sizzling becomes too gentle, and add the rice, stirring until coated with oil.

Add the tomatoes, 1 tablespoon pimenton, chicken broth, and saffron-infused wine. Stir once and then do not stir again.

Add the chorizo, peppers, and chicken back to the pan.

Keep the fire low and even from here on in, and rotate the pan once or twice to ensure even cooking.

Cook for 12 minutes at a gentle, low simmer, then add the clams, making sure they sink into the rice. When it simmers again in about 2 minutes, add the mussels.

Cook another 10 minutes, then scatter over the shrimp and legumes, pushing them down into the mix with the spoon.

When rice is just al dente, in perhaps another 6 minutes, remove from the fire, and loosely drape with aluminum foil for at least 10 minutes. As torturous as it is, this rest period is crucial. Then, garnish with sliced roasted peppers, chopped parsley, and lemon wedges, and serve.

If you come across shellfish that hasn’t opened, remove it to The aluminum pan, cover it with the foil, and place over the fire; the shellfish should open in no time.

Serves 6 – 8

When not at her desk job, Michelle Roden Conway gobbles up recipes, cooks up a storm, randomly writes food articles, and invents culinary adventures for her family and friends.
Photos by: Barbara Scholberg

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