My Paella: Paella a mi estilo

Guest recipe by Simone & Ines Ortega
Authors of 1080 Recipes

Serves 6-8.

· 11 ounces raw shrimp, shells on and heads attached, if available
· 2 ¼ pounds mussels or 1 pound 2 ounces littleneck, steamer, or cherrystone clams
· ¾ cup olive oil
· 1 small onion, finely chopped
· 1 clove garlic, finely chopped
· 3 tablespoons tomato sauce or 1 large, ripe tomato, chopped
· 2 small squid, cleaned and cut into ¼ inch thick rings
· 2 ½ cups long-grain rice
· 3 sprigs fresh parsley
· pinch of saffron threads
· 2 chicken bouillon cubes
· scant 1 cup drained canned peas
· 1 red bell pepper, seeded and cut into strips
· salt
· lemon wedges

Peel the shrimp and reserve the shells and heads, if attached. Set the shrimp aside. Put the heads and shells into a pan, pour in plenty of water, and simmer for about 10 minutes. Remove the pan from the heat and strain the stock into a bowl.

If using the mussels, and they have not been pre-cleaned, scrape the shells with the blade of a knife and remove the "beards," then scrub under cold running water. If using the clams, scrub under cold running water. Discard any shellfish with broken shells or any that do not shut immediately when sharply tapped. Put the shellfish in a pan or skillet, add ¼ cup water, cover and cook over high heat for 3-6 minutes, until the shells have opened. Left out the shellfish with a slotted spoon, discarding any that remain closed. Reserve the cooking liquid.

Remove nearly all the shellfish form their shells but leave a few in the shell or half shell for the garnish, strain the reserved cooking liquid through a cheesecloth-lined strainer into the shrimp stock. Add enough water to make 7 ½ cups, if necessary. Pour into a pan and heat gently, but do not let boil. 

Preheat the oven to 350ºF. Pour just enough of the oil into a paella pan or large, heavy skillet with a metal handle to cover the base and heat it. Add the onion and garlic over medium heat, stirring occasionally, for 7 minutes, until lightly browned. Add the tomato sauce or fresh tomato and cook, stirring constantly, for a few minutes. Reserve a few shrimp for the garnish and add the remainder to the pan with the squid rings and rice. Cook, stirring constantly, until the squid becomes opaque. Add the shelled mussels or clams. Season with a pinch of salt and pour in the hot stock, gently shake the pan to make sure the liquid is evenly distributed.

Pound the parsley with the saffron in a mortar, or process in a mini-food processor. Mix in 2 tablespoons water, and add to the paella pan. Crumble in the bouillon cubes. Gently shake the pan or stir with a wooden spoon. Add the peas to the paella and cook for a few minutes more. Garnish the paella with the strips of bell pepper, the reserved shrimp, and the reserved shellfish in the shell. 

Transfer the pan to the oven and bake for about 25 minutes. Spread out a dampened dishtowel on a work surface. Remove the paella pan from the oven, place it on the dishtowel, and let stand for 5 minutes. Serve the paella with lemon wedges hung over the side of the pan.