Having spent my formative years in Spain, my definition of comfort food includes the intricate delicacy of Paella, yet I have never made the leap to attempt a Paella of my own. Now that I have a Camp Chef outdoor stove, there is absolutely no excuse for not giving it a go. Plans were made. And after a long, hot mountain bike ride up the Mount Wilson Toll Road to Upper Winter Creek, we were ready to spend a nice hot July afternoon at ease. Ease turned to a time squeeze when we set out to find the ingredients for Paella. Great seafood, Saffron, Bomba rice. These are not necessarily readily available, but I had promised myself and Alex: Saturday we would create Paella. And in the absence of a true Paella pan, we’d be using a Camp Chef National Parks Cast Iron Skillet. Here’s how it all unfolded:
- 6 oz. large shrimp/prawns with head if possible
- 3-6 oz. small shrimp
- 1 small bottle clam juice
- Pinch Saffron threads
- Redmond’s Sea Salt
- 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
- 6 oz. dry scallops, patted dry
- 4 oz. calamari,with tentacles if you please
- 1 onion
- 3-6 garlic cloves
- 2 tomatoes
- 1/4 lb real Spanish Chorizo
- 1/2 teaspoon pimenton (Spanish ground red pepper/Paprika)
- 1 1/2 cups Bomba rice (Matiz makes Paella rice which is perfect!)
- 8 small clams or mussels (or both), scrubbed
- Other possibilities: Peas, roasted red pepper
- 2 lemons, cut in wedges
- Camp Chef 2 Burner Stove
- Paella Pan or 14″ or Larger Cast Iron Skillet
Prep Seafood and Make the Stock
1. Peel the shrimp and place shells, clam juice, a generous pinch of salt, and 4.5 cups water in a saucepan and simmer.
2. Pour the oil in the 14″ skillet or pan, and bring to medium high. Cook the large shrimp, add the scallops and calamari and cook 95% through. Remove and reserve for later.
3. Meanwhile, toast the Saffron in a tiny Lodge Wear Cast Iron Skillet. Once toasted, crumble into the stock pot.
4. Slice Chorizo and fry in Skillet (after removing the seafood) until the edges turn brown. Prepare the tomatoes, onions and garlic. Tomatoes and onions can be peeled and either put through a food processor or shredded on a cheese grater (discard any tomato skins leftover). Add to Skillet with Chorizo. Cook down the tomato, onion and garlic (add garlic after several minutes) in the large skillet. Add the pimenton. This will take anywhere from 10-12 minutes. The result will resemble a paste.
5. Add the Bomba rice and mussels and clams to the Skillet and turn the heat to Medium-High to High. Brown the edges of the rice then turn heat to medium to medium-low. Strain and add shellfish broth. Cook until the rice has absorbed most of the water. When the rice is almost fully cooked, add the seafood. Cook for 5 minutes of Medium.
6. Create the socarrat. Turn the burners up to nearly burn the bottom of the rice. Once a nice crisp has been formed on the bottom of the rice, remove the pan from the burners to cool for a few minutes. Arrange the shellfish.
7. Serve and eat!
After a long day on the bike and slaving in the outdoor kitchen, there could not have been a better reward than relaxing under the oaks and enjoying the Spanish tradition. We enjoyed, and celebrated.
The beauty of Paella is there is always plenty to share. And it can be whatever you would like it to be. Any type of fish, shellfish or meat can be added. Any vegetables such as bell peppers, peas can be added. The Paella pan is your palette. Be creative, live and make Paella!