Grilled Paella for a Crowd
When the American University field hockey team arrived in town for the weekend games last week, Grilled Paella was a real Pre-Celebratory Winner served as the Main course at the Team Family Dinner held at our house.
Preparing Paella outdoors on grills for a crowd provides a fun engaging experience and a leisurely environment for folks to relax and chat while observing the cooking, participating in eager anticipation as each ingredient unfolds, building flavor, and transforming the rice dish highlighted in the shaded golden yellow color while absorbing the liquid of the stock.
There is a hint of excitement heating the Paella pan too, even from the first sizzle of olive oil, moving the shallots and scallions about the pan as they soften and become translucent.
Bright red chopped tomatoes play against the darker powdery shade of Spanish paprika, bite-size pieces of fresh chorizo and the slightest crackle of the rice first stirred into the combination.
The Production ease in Grilled Paella for a Crowd is preparing individual ingredients early on, such as the Easy Lobster and Shrimp Stock that may easily be prepared weeks in advance, frozen and defrosted in the refrigerator two days before using.
Assorted glass bowls held shallots, scallions, tomatoes, parsley, bright green petite peas, finished with bright juicy lemon wedges. Each with a colorful role sharing depth and complexity to the whole.
Chop, chop, chop. Chorizo cut into small bite size pieces.
Seasoning and marinating of the chicken and shrimp, and cleaning the mussels, may be prepared the day before. With the Team Bus scheduled to arrive between 3:30-4:00 pm, the fired up grills and charcoal briquettes were hot and replenished from mid-afternoon on, grilling both chicken legs and thighs to just done an hour or so in advance.
A magical moment, the ahhhh, in the Paella Grill Performance occurs while pouring the steaming Lobster and Shrimp Stock mixed with the white wine and saffron into the rice. The intense golden color combination of the saffron and stock together create a steaming fog swirling between these intensely colorful ingredients and the burning heat of the charcoal briquettes just beneath. Smokin’ hot.
As the rice is nearly absorbed with the mussels, shrimp, and later some chicken pieces carefully tucked into the pan, the Grilled Paella once again transforms to expanded new dimensions and the unique scent of the saffron veils the dish over. The final wait is for the mussel shells to open.
An engaging experience, eager anticipation as each ingredient unfolds, sizzle, crackle, the swoosh and the steam. Colorful ingredients impart complex dimensions. Centered on the table lineup, it’s a win, Grilled Paella for a Crowd. Go Team! AUFH!
- For the 8 cups Easy Lobster and Shrimp Stock:
- lobster shells from about 6-7 1 1/2 pound lobsters
- shrimp shells from ten pounds of peeled shrimp, rinsed
- 6 chopped carrots
- 6 chopped stalks of celery
- 3 medium sized onions, quartered
- 3 large tomatoes, quartered
- 2 handfuls of fresh parsley
- 3 bay leaves
- 1 dozen whole peppercorns
- 10 quarts of cold water
- 2 cups of white wine
- For the Chicken:
- 10 pieces chicken, legs and thighs
- 1 tablespoon smoked Spanish paprika
- 1 tablespoon dried oregano
- 2 tablespoons fresh thyme leaves, chopped
- 2 teaspoons coarse kosher salt
- 1 teaspoon fresh cracked pepper
- For the Shrimp:
- 2 ½- 3 pounds large shrimp, peeled, de-veined
- 2 tablespoons Spanish olive oil
- 1 teaspoon smoked Spanish paprika
- 1 scant teaspoon red pepper flakes
- 1 lemon, juiced, seeded
- Pinch or two of coarse kosher salt
- Pinch or two of cracked black pepper
- For the Mussels:
- 2 pound bag mussels, purged in cold water with a tablespoon of cornmeal or salt, beards removed, rinsed well and kept on ice until use
- For the Paella Assembly and Cooking:
- 6 tablespoons Spanish olive oil
- 3 shallots, chopped
- 3 scallions, chopped white and green part
- 2 -3 small tomatoes, chopped
- 4 cups medium grain Spanish style rice
- 1 teaspoon smoked Spanish paprika
- 1 teaspoon saffron soaked in ½ cup white wine
- 1 packet Sazon seasoning
- 3-4 Chorizo sausages
- 1-2 teaspoons coarse kosher salt
- 1 teaspoon cracked black pepper
- 1 1/2 cups petite peas
- ¼ cup fresh chopped parsley or cilantro
- lemon wedges for serving alongside finished paella
- Prepare the Easy Lobster and Shrimp Stock up to a week in advance and freeze, thaw in refrigerator two days before preparing Paella
- To make the Easy Lobster and Shrimp Stock combine all ingredients into a large stockpot and fill with cold water about 6-8 inches above the ingredients
- Simmer lobster and shrimp stock for about a half hour or more until fully hot and heated through
- Add 2 cups of white wine and continue simmering on low heat around 2 1/2 hours or more until stock has developed a rich golden color
- Strain stock using a cheesecloth, or just strain into a colander
- Stock is now ready to freeze in containers for future use, or, ready to add to rice in preparing your Grilled Paella.
- One day before Grilling Your Paella:
- a. Toss together spice rub with the chicken pieces, cover and refrigerate
- b. Toss together marinade ingredients with the shrimp, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate
- c. Clean mussels, pull off beards, rinse well, place in a long container with ice, refrigerate
- For the Paella:
- Early in the day, or just before beginning the Paella, grill marinated chicken to just done set aside, re-warm in oven before paella is nearly done
- Heat Lobster and Shrimp stock in a large pot, simmer on low
- Pour in wine with the saffron
- Sprinkle in a packet of Sazon, Bring the stock to a rolling boil then simmer on the lowest heat until its time to add to the rice in paella pan
- Preheat grill
- Set paella pan onto grill and heat around a minute
- Pour in the olive oil, swirl to cover the bottom, warm another minute
- Scrape in shallots and scallions, cook for two minutes, stirring in between
- Topple in the rice, coating and stirring well with oil and shallot mixture
- Sprinkle in the smoked Spanish paprika, a couple of pinches salt and pepper, stir, and cook for about a minute
- Drop in the tomatoes, stir
- Add Chorizo, cook another minute
- Pour the hot lobster and shrimp stock all around the pan stirring throughout as it sizzles
- Let the seasoned rice continue simmering on the grill without stirring but rotating the pan at intervals to cook evenly all around, about twenty minutes or so, add a little more hot stock if needed
- As stock begins absorbing into the rice, tuck in the mussels and set in the shrimp, cook until mussels open, around 12 minutes
- Scatter the peas all around
- Tuck in as many pieces of the grilled, warm chicken pieces as can fit into the paella pan
- Sprinkle finished Paella with fresh chopped parsley or cilantro, and a few pinches salt and pepper
- Serve grilled Paella in its pan alongside remaining grilled chicken pieces and lemon wedges
- Grilled Paella for a Crowd makes 1- 16 1/2 inch wide x 2 1/2 inch deep Paella Pan.