Paella cooked on the BBQ is our summertime staple when entertaining. I bring all the ingredients (except the seafood – keep that chilled) and cook outside while our guests chat and watch the dish evolve.
Paella is ideal to prepare on the BBQ, because the grill offers a large, even heat surface. On a recent trip to Barcelona, we learned that true Catalan paella only uses a touch of saffron, not enough to turn the rice yellow or overwhelm the dish. Another secret is to actually NOT stir the paella once you’ve added the liquid. The rice does cook beautifully and if crust develops at the bottom, (called the “soccarat”) it means you’ve done a proper job!
Photo by Michael Mahovlich. Adapted from Anna & Michael Olson Cook at Home (Whitecap Books), 2005.
Preheat the grill to medium heat and place a large paella pan (or sauté pan) and add the oil. Add the onion, celery and pepper and sauté until translucent (it’s OK if it browns a little), about 10 minutes. Add the thyme, garlic, saffron and paprika and cook 1 minute more.
Add rice and sauté for 4 minutes, to coat with oil but not brown. Add all of the stock at once and stir. Stir in sausage and tomatoes and let simmer another few minutes, but now stop stirring.
Arrange the clams around the pan and cook, for about 8 minutes, until then just start to open (you can put the lid down on the grill for this and in between the further ingredient additions). Now arrange the mussels and fish over the rice. Add scallops and shrimp and cook just until shrimp are pink. Season to taste and serve immediately.