Recipe by Chef Kate
This Paella--Arroz de almejas a la marinera--comes from Penelope Casas who says that in Valencia, paellas tend to be either meat or seafood -- and not both. This delicious paella owes its intense clam flavor to its use of two kinds of clams. The larger ones are steamed open, then the meat chopped and the broth used as the paella's liquid. The smaller ones are placed in their shells directly on the paella to steam open while the dish cooks. To cleanse clams, place them in a bowl and cover them with heavily salted water (think seawater) and a tablespoon of cornmeal or flour. Leave for a few hours or overnight. Before using, scrub them well.
- 1 dozen large littleneck clams, cleansed
- 1⁄2 cup parsley, minced
- 6 medium garlic cloves, minced
- 1⁄8 teaspoon saffron thread, crumbled
- kosher salt
- 1⁄4 cup dry white wine
- 2 teaspoons lemon juice, fresh
- 4 tablespoons olive oil
- 1⁄2 cup onion, minced
- 1⁄4 cup leek, well-washed, minced (white parts only)
- 1 small green bell pepper, finely chopped
- 1 bay leaf
- 1⁄4 teaspoon dried red chili peppers or 1⁄4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
- 1⁄3 teaspoon sweet paprika, preferable Spanish smoked (pimenton)
- 1 1⁄2 cups short-grain rice (arborio or a Spanish variety)
- 32 manila clams or 24 new zealand cockles
Directions See How It's Made
- Place large clams in a skillet with 3 cups water. Bring to a boil, cover and cook, removing clams as they open. Swish clams in the broth to remove any sand, then shake dry and chop coarsely. Set aside.
- Pour liquid through a fine-mesh sieve lined with cheesecloth or one layer of a two-ply paper towel. Measure out 2 and 3/4 cups and set aside. Reserve additional broth for another use.
- Set aside 2 tablespoons parsley. In a mortar or mini processor, mash to a paste the remaining parsley, garlic, saffron and 1/8 teaspoon salt. Set aside.
- When ready to cook, preheat oven to 400 for gas, 450 for electric. Warm broth over a low flame. Have pre-measured and ready to go onion, leeks, pepper, bay leaf, chile pepper, chopped clams, bay leaf, chile pepper, paprika, rice and Manila clams. Combine mortar mixture (parsley, garlic, saffron, salt) with wine and lemon juice.
- Heat the oil in a paella pan measuring about 13 inches (or in a shallow casserole of a similar size) and slowly saute the onion, leeks, pepper, bay leaf and chile pepper until the vegetables are softened.
- Add the chopped clams and saute 5 minutes more. Remove the bay leaf and chile pepper and stir in the paprika. Add the rice and coat well with the pan mixture. Pour in the broth, bring to a boil, taste for salt, add the mortar-wine-lemon juice mixture and Manila clams and boil, stirring occasionally, for about 5 minutes, until the rice is no longer soupy but sufficient liquid remains to continue cooking the rice.
- Transfer to the oven and cook, uncovered, 10 to 12 minutes in a gas oven, or 15 to 20 minutes in an electric oven, until the rice is almost al dente.
- Remove to a warm spot, cover with foil and let sit 5 to 10 minutes, until the rice is cooked to taste.
- To a achieve a crusty bottom, return the paella to the stove over high heat and cook, without stirring, until a crust of rice forms at the bottom of the pan. Be careful not to let it burn. Sprinkle with remaining parsley and serve.