When Jessica informed me, “We will have 18 for dinner tomorrow night,” my mind automatically went to Paella. The first phone call was placed to Mrs. Iacono for two pounds of her Spicy Chicken Sausage. Then I called the Seafood Shoppe in Wainscot for four pounds of cod, two pounds of sea scallops, three cull lobsters and three-dozen littleneck clams. Just prior to leaving the restaurant, I organized a box of dry goods, a quart of jasmine rice, a quart of mirepoix, a wine bottle full of saffron infused wine and clam juice, one coffee cup filled with Sofrito, one 16-ounce can of “Muir Glen” whole peeled tomato and two quarts of chicken stock. I grabbed a pound of North Country Andouille sausage for extra flavor.
Ingredients for PAELLA FOR 18:
2-lb chicken sausage (diced)
1-lb Andouille sausage (diced)
1-quart jasmine rice
1-quart mirepoix (diced carrots, celery and onion)
8-oz Sofrito (finely diced red and green pepper, jalapeño, garlic, cilantro and olive oil)
750-ml white wine mixed with clam sauce (50:50) and one tablespoon of saffron threads (allow to set for one hour before using)
16-oz can whole peeled tomatoes (juice removed, roughly chopped)
2-quarts chicken stock
1/4-cup olive oil
4 tb vegetable oil
Sea salt and ground pepper to your liking
3 cull (2+ pound) lobsters (steamed and removed from shell)
2 lb scallops (10/20 size) cleaned and lightly seared
4 lb fresh fish (skin and bones removed, cut into 2-inch pieces)
3 dozen little neck clams (rinsed and lightly scrubbed in cold water)
2 cups snap peas (chopping into pieces) of fresh shucking peas
1 cup cleaned and chopped fresh oregano, parsley and mint mixed
Putting paella together is different almost every time. But it’s always important to use a heavy bottomed pan. If the lobster is too expensive, you can use shrimp instead. If, while fishing, striped bass is on the end of your line, make the paella with bass instead of cod. Always start with the aromatic (mirepoix) and Andouille, then add a little olive oil and stir. When the onions begin to sizzle, add the chicken sausage and follow that with the rice and Sofrito and stir again.
Once the rice begins to take on color while stirring (about two minutes later), season with salt and ground pepper. Then, add the saffron-infused clam juice and allow it to simmer undisturbed for five minutes. Next, add 1.5 quarts of warm chicken stock followed by the chopped tomatoes and bring the rice to a light boil. Now add the fish (lobsters lightly steamed and removed from the shell, scallops lightly seared with vegetable oil) and place the pan in a 400-degree oven. After 10 minutes, check to see if all the clams have opened. Then, scatter slice snap peas (when in season) and fresh herbs on top. Check the moisture of the rice, and add some warm chicken stock if needed. Allow two to three more minutes in the oven. Serve in warm bowls, with fresh bread and a nice garden salad.