Servings: four to six.
An icon of Spain’s cultural identity, paella is a truly spectactular dish: a thin blanket of saffron-scented rice, studded with fresh seafood. The secrets to authentic paella include using real saffron, pimentón, and bomba rice, cooking the sofrito slowly to a sweet, deeply-flavored compote, and letting the crackly, crunchy socarrat (bottom crust) develop. It’s also worth investing in a good paella pan.
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Set a 16-inch paella pan over medium-low heat. Add 1/4 cup of the oil and when it’s hot, add the grated onion. Cook the onion in the center of the pan, stirring occasionally, until it softens and darkens slightly, about 4 minutes. Stir in the tomato pulp, chopped and whole garlic, pimentón, and 1/4 tsp. salt. Gently cook the mixture in the center of the pan, stirring frequently, until it’s deep, dark red and very thick, 30 to 40 minutes. Adjust the heat as needed, being careful not to let it burn. If it starts to stick, deglaze by adding a little water and scraping the pan.
Arrange the reserved mussels in the pan, distributing them evenly. Lower the heat so the broth maintains a more moderate simmer, and after another 5 minutes, arrange the shrimp in the pan, pushing them into the rice. Continue simmering until the liquid is absorbed and the rice is tender but still firm(taste a few grains below the top layer), about 5 minutes more. The rice needs to simmer for roughly 18 minutes total. If at any point the broth seems to be evaporating too quickly, reduce the heat slightly, cover loosely with sheets of foil, or add a little more broth or water, 1/4 cup at a time as needed. Also, if the mussels or shrimp are still undercooked by the time the rice is done, cover loosely with foil for a few minutes to trap the heat and finish the cooking.
While the paella cooks, lightly season the scallops with salt. Heat the remaining 2 tsp. oil in a 10-inch nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add the scallops and cook until nicely browned on both sides and just cooked through, 2 to 3 minutes per side.
When the rice is done, arrange the scallops on top of the paella. Check for any caramelized rice sticking to the pan by using a spoon to feel for resistance on the bottom of the pan. Check in several areas, especially in the center of the pan. If there is none, increase the heat to medium high and carefully cook, moving the pan around, until you hear a good deal of crackling and feel resistance, 1 to 2 minutes; if you smell burning, immediately remove the pan from the heat.
Remove the pan from the heat, cover with a clean dishtowel, and let rest for 5 to 10 minutes. Arrange the lemon wedges around the perimeter of the pan.
do you take the meat out of the mussels you use for the broth and put them in the paella somewhere? or just eat em? thx dave
This was my first try at paella and I was surprised by how easy it was to make and how authentic it tasted. I am bit disappointed about the looks though. What you get, is a base of yellow rice with toppings; more like a pizza than a risotto. I am used to having the seafood mixed in with the rice. I also miss the squids. I guess it is on to making this recipe mine, by changing a few things here and there. Just a bit unsure how to time the cooking of the seafood by having it incorporated with the rice. Will the squid turn rubbery? I will have to try myself.
This was my first time making paella, but the instructions were very clear and the photos very helpful. I used shrimp, sausage, and red bell pepper. Invested in the special pan, but used arborio rice. Had to spread the 16" pan over two burners to get the heat to the very edges of the pan. My husband and guests ate up every bit. It was yummy, especially the crunchy rice on the bottom of the pan. I will definitely make this again!
Wonderful recipe! With Sarah Jay's well-prepared sofrito, the rice has a delicious flavor. The goodies on top are just extras.
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