Today’s blog is in honor of Ashleigh English Pitt, my incredible daughter who will be 26 years old this week!

The apple never falls far from the tree and my beautiful, daughter, Ashleigh is an excellent example of this.  As she has gotten older, just like her mom, her interest in cooking continues to grow and develop.  She likes to experiment and just like me, she is always wanting to “tweak” her recipe to make it a little better each time.  While I have always considered my husband, Jeff, to be my partner in crime in the kitchen (he has his own unique techniques), Ashleigh also has an accomplice in the kitchen, her fiance, Hunter Brown.

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The recipe I am sharing today is Ashleigh’s adaption from the Cakebread Cellars American Harvest Cookbook’s Shellfish and Chorizo Paella. It sticks close to the original recipe but she substitutes green peas in for the chickpeas and that is a great idea because it adds a pop of color to the dish that it needed.  She also omits the clams and uses only mussels but doubles up on Spanish chorizo.  Ashleigh calls it her Famous Seafood Paella but Hunter, known for his love of getting her riled up, declared that it wasn’t exactly famous so hence the new title,  Ashleigh & Hunter’s “Infamous” Seafood Paella”!

Ashleigh and Hunter’s “In”Famous Paella

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup dry white wine
  • 1 tbsp Spanish smoked paprika
  • 1/4 tsp saffron threads
  • 18 large shrimp (deveined, shell on)
  • 1/4 cup plus 3 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
  • 3/4 lb. scallops
  • kosher salt
  • 2 large yellow onions, minced
  • 1 large red bell pepper, minced
  • 1 (15 oz.) can whole tomatoes
  • 2 cups medium grain rice (preferably Spanish)
  • 4 to 6 cups hot fish or seafood stock
  • 1/2 cup frozen peas
  • 1 lb. mussels (OR clams)
  • 4 oz. Spanish chorizo, thinly sliced on the bias
  • 1/2 cup scallions

 Directions

  • In a small saucepan, combine the wine, paprika, and saffron. Bring to a boil, cover and set aside for 30 minutes to steep. *This is a crucial part of a traditional Spanish paella. Simply adding saffron while cooking does not disperse the flavor.

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  • Heat a large paella pan or very shallow, wide skillet over medium high heat. Add the 1/4 cup of olive oil. When the oil is hot, add the shrimp and cook until pink, about 1 1/2 minutes on each side, the remove and set aside.

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  • Season the scallops with salt and add ONE tablespoon of olive oil to the pan. Sear the scallops until lightly browned on both sides, about 1 minute per side. Do not fully cook. Remove and set aside.

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  • In all those good juices, sear the chorizo very lightly for about 1 1/2 minutes on each side. Remove and set aside.

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  • Add the remaining 2 tablespoons of olive oil to the pan. Add the onions, bell pepper, and a little salt, cooking until soft (about 10 minutes).

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  • With the can of tomatoes, hand crush each tomato into the pan and stir, cooking for 5 minutes. *This is another aspect of the traditional Spanish Paella. This is called the “sofrito” and it is very important to let these flavors develop together.

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  • When the sofrito seems ready, add the rice and cook, stirring, for 1 to 2 minutes. Then, add 4 cups of hot stock, the peas, and the wine/saffron mixture. Stir to blend and season with salt as needed.

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  • Cook at steady simmer WITHOUT stirring until rice is half done, 10-12 minutes. Next, add the mussels or clams (set them slender side up into the rice so they will steam and open).

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  • Distribute the scallops evenly, tucking them into the rice to cook. Then, add the shrimp and chorizo, distributing evenly.

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  • Scatter the scallions all over the top. NOTE: Add more stock as needed if the rice looks dry, but try as hard as you can NOT to stir. If the rice begins to scorch on the bottom instead of crust, you can gently stir.

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  • Continue cooking until the rice is barely aldente, about 20 more minutes. Then remove from heat and let stand for 10-15 minutes, draped loosely with a towel to retain some heat. Paella is best served warm, not hot.

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Note:  Served best family-style at a table with glass of Chardonnay or other full-bodied white wine. If you prefer red, we like to drink it with a Spanish Grenache (Garnacha), which brings out the spicy flavors.

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Bottom Line: 
Ashleigh and Hunter cooked this beautiful dish for us for Valentine’s Day.  It was such a nice treat to be served family style in our home…It was perfect evening of good wine, great food, and the company wasn’t too bad either.  This recipe is perfect for a romantic dinner for two and or a quaint dinner party with friends.  Although, it is on the expensive side, it isn’t as difficult as it may seem and I encourage you to try it in your own kitchen.  I am Chef Frankie but this time I Wasn’t in The Kitchen, and I was Eating with Wild Abandonment!  (Special Thanks to Hunter for his photography…he is completely responsible for all the “feet” in the photographs..lol!  Fun Night!)

NOTE:  Cakebread Cellar‘s original recipe can be found in their American Harvest Cookbook by Jack and Dolores Cakebread and Brian Streeter with Janet Fletcher.

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