Mixed Seafood Paella
I am notorious for being indecisive. Now you know why I frequently post “this or that” questions for you to all decide for me on Facebook so I don’t have to! After 10 years together, my husband has learned to love me despite this fault, although it used to drive him crazy. When we’re out to eat, he even offers to order my runner up dish when I can’t decide what to chose from the menu.
I’m also a people pleaser and always worry about making the wrong decision and letting someone down. We were having friends for dinner last month and I wanted to make paella. I didn’t know whether they liked seafood paella, strictly meat or a vegetarian paella so after going back and forth I took the leap and decided to throw everything but the kitchen sink into it.
Paella is a traditional Spanish dish of short-grain rice, saffron and good quality olive oil. There are 3 different popular versions: seafood, vegetarian, or mixed meat and seafood. Keeping with the theme of my indecisiveness, my favorite is the mixed version The variety of seafood balances the spice of the chorizo and gives it a subtle smooth flavor. Plus it keeps me from having to chose and I get the best of all worlds!
Being grain-free, the traditional short-grain rice that is normally used is not an option to me, so I used cauliflower chopped up very finely to resemble rice grains. Once cooked, the “riced” cauliflower tenderizes and mimics the consistency of rice Cauliflower rice is nothing new to the grain-free world, but it is extremely versatile. I use a spiced saffron cauli-rice when I make Indian food to serve under the rich sauces. You really can substitute it for any of your favorite rice dishes. Try using it in this Cajun Dirty Rice, Vietnamese Fried Rice, or just as a simple side dish with butter and seasoning.
Never cooked shellfish before? Don’t'fret. I didn’t have much experience with it either before this dish but it’s really simple. If you don’t like seafood, feel free to make this Paella your own. Add more chicken or sausage, or replace the meat with vegetables. You will want to use the largest shallow skillet you have so the cauli-rice cooks evenly. I use this oval skillet from Le Creuset. It’s not meant to be a paella pan necessarily, but it works perfectly!
- 1½ cup chicken broth
- 1 cup clam stock (use all chicken broth if you omit seafood)
- 6 littleneck clams, scrubbed clean
- 6 mussels, scrubbed clean
- ½ pound jumbo shrimp, peeled and deveined
- 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 6 ounces chorizo sausage, casing removed and crumbled (homemade or nitrate free)
- 2 chicken thighs, cubed (boneless and skinless)
- 1 medium yellow onion, chopped
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 2 roma tomatoes, chopped
- 2 teaspoons sea salt
- 1 teaspoon saffron threads
- ¼ teaspoon smoked paprika
- ¼ teaspoon cracked pepper
- 1 head cauliflower (about 4 cups chopped)
- ¼ cup fresh parsley
- lemon wedges for garnish
- Place the cauliflower floretts in a blender or food processor, and chop finely until it resembles short-grain rice. Set off to the side.
- Combine the chicken stock and clam juice in a saucepan set over medium heat. Keep warm while you cook the meat.
- Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the chicken pieces and sausage. Cook for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally to brown the chicken on all sides.
- Add the remaining 1 tablespoon of oil, onion, garlic, tomatoes, salt, paprika, pepper, and saffron. Continue to sauté for another 7 minutes until the onions have softened.
- Pour ¾ cup of the broth mixture into the skillet, stirring to scrape up the browned bits from the bottom of the skillet. Stir in the riced cauliflower and simmer for 15 minutes.
- Bring the remaining broth to a boil, then add the clams and mussels. Cover and cook for 6-7 minutes, until the shells have opened up. Discard any that haven’t opened. Remove the shellfish with a slotted spoon and set aside. Add the shrimp to the pan and cook for 2-3 minutes, until pink. Set aside with the shellfish.
- When the cauliflower is tender and most of the juices have evaporated, nestle the shrimp, clams, and mussels into the paella. Cook for another 10 minutes then remove from the heat. Let the paella stand for 10 minutes before serving.
- Sprinkle the parsley over the top and serve each dish with a lemon wedge. Paella is best with a squeeze of fresh lemon right before eating.