I love fire! The warmth, the smoke, the general feeling you get when you see a warming blaze in a grill/fireplace/firepit – and I absolutely love what that smoke and heat do when you’re cooking on it. It adds depth that you can’t get from any ingredient in your cupboard. My ‘Paella on the Grill’ is no exception. We made it this weekend, and while we were all a bit smoky when it was finally done, the result was outstanding.
When you cook anything over open flame, first you have to have a decent base of coals. Start your wood fire about an hour before you’re ready to cook. I use oak and ash since it’s what I have but you can use any hardwood you like. I cheat a bit and use a charcoal starter to get everything burning and then dump the charcoal onto the hardwood. It lights without a problem and there are no chemicals involved. Once your wood is burning, let it die down a bit to red coals while continuing to feed small chunks as needed on one side. You need to keep that heat steady and you can rotate your pan once it’s on to keep cooking evenly.
Paella on the Grill
- 4 or 5 Tbspn olive oil
- 1 pinch saffron (steeping in about 2 cups warm water)
- 1 Pack chicken thighs (go organic if you can)
- 1 Lb. chorizo (I use D'artagnan's.)
- 1 Med onion (grated)
- 1 red pepper (finely chopped)
- 3 or 4 garlic cloves (crushed)
- 1 Med tomato (grated)
- little neck clams (8 per person)
- 1 Lb. small shrimp
- 1/2 cup Bomba rice (per person)
- salt to taste
|First things first, you need to get everything prepped to work outside - grate your onion and tomato and put them in a small bowl. Smash the garlic and chop the pepper fine and add it to the same bowl. Set on a tray to carry out to the grill. Cut the chorizo in half and wash the chicken. Measure out your rice. Clean the clams and shrimp and load everything on your tray.|
|Place your steel pan on the grill (make sure its all steel - some have rubber handles) and let it heat up. Add the oil and when it starts to have that ribbony look, add the grated vegetables. Saute with a long handled utensil (wooden so it doesn't carry heat).|
|Add the chicken and brown both sides. Cook until it's virtually done.|
|Add the chorizo and let it sizzle away for a bit. Then pull the chicken out and set it on a side plate.|
|Add the rice, saffron infused water, and the standard two to one water ratio for rice (if you're doing one cup of rice, add two cups of water). I have a tea kettle of warm water on the side in case it get's too dry. You can always add a bit as need be. Add a bit of salt - not too much since the clams can add a fair amount. Give it a quick stir to distribute the rice and then don't touch it. The amazing thing with paella is the crust that forms on the bottom of the pan. I know every instinct you have will tell you to poke at it - don't. And you can cover your grill and leave the vents open to cook the rice a bit faster.|
|After about 15 minutes or so, start testing your rice to see how far along it is. Add the clams when you think you've got about ten minutes left. Clams always take a bit to cook and you want them to pop open completely.|
|About 5 minutes after you've added the clams, add your shrimp. They go fast but they're just siting on top so you need to make sure they're cooked through. I use tiny shrimp that I buy in Maine every year. They're an odd little northern specialty and they're deliciously sweet. Also put your chicken back on top to warm through.|
|Pull from the fire when the seafood is cooked - serve to applause.|
My suggestion is to have a glass of something yummy to sip while you’re cooking this. It’s always more fun that way! It also helps to have someone to fill your glass and keep you company while you’re out there (thanks Nicholas!). Just a couple tips!
And here are a few links to some of the products I use: chorizo, Bomba rice (I also buy this on Amazon), saffron, paella pans… If you don’t have a paella pan and are purchasing – go up a size from what you think you will need. You can always cook a bit less in the pan. Also, if you’re going to try this inside on a regular stove top, go ahead and purchase the pan with the rubber handles. I have a giant sized version (you could seat a small child in it) that has them and it works really well inside on my gas top.
I hope you try this on the grill. It’s a load of fun! And thanks as always for reading EG!