I struggled to name this dish. When I made it, I thought of calling it “Paella Risotto” – it combines the flavors associated to paellas with Arborio rice in the foolproof risotto cooking technique. Shushing my (not so inner) etymology nerd, I decided against it because paella refers to the actual pan where the rice is cooked and the dish is traditionally referred to as ‘arroz a la paella’. After listening to Annie Siboney, the hostess of Cooking Channel’s “From Spain with Love”, say that authentic paella does not have chorizo I opted for the alliteration filled saffron and seafood risotto. As some British dude wrote once: “What’s in a name…” I will be working on a “real” paella soon, though. DH ordered our first pan to use it on top of our charcoal grill after considering it for a few weeks.
I have (had?) some prized ingredients sitting in the pantry for a while: the balsamic vinegar and artichoke risotto mixes from last year’s trip, saffron my MIL brought us back from Spain a couple of years ago, one last container of a fancy seafood stock base I bought when I made shrimp etouffee, oils and vinegars from Marshall’s/HomeGoods that I don’t know if I’ll ever find again, etc. When we buy or receive these items, we tend to store them, think of all the great things that can be prepared, and just leave them there. When I made this risotto, I was completely burnt-out after a tough work week and a day filled with housework. I took the stock base and the saffron from their little pedestal in cupboard. They were meant to be used! Life is too short to hoard condiments ‘for a special occasion’. Any Saturday I get to spend home, enjoying my kitchen and DH’s company is more than special. If we could apply the same thinking to some of our wine bottles…
GF 360° Saffron and Seafood Risotto
(Four main course servings)
The Cooking Liquid
- 5 cups of fish or seafood stock (homemade or a base)
- 1 teaspoon saffron threads
Crumble the saffron threads and mix them into the fish or seafood stock. Bring the stock up to a simmer so it can be added to the rice by the ladleful.
- 1 tablespooon olive oil
- 1 chorizo link (3-4 ounces), diced
- 1 small onion, diced
- 1 clove garlic
- 1 tomato, diced
- 1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika
Add the olive oil to the risotto pan and warm over medium heat. Toss in the chorizo and cook for four minutes. After they render some of their reddish fat, add the onions and cook until soft. Ad the garlic, tomato, and paprika and cook for two more minutes until fragrant.
- 1 1/2 cup Arborio Rice
- 1/2 cup dry white wine or vermouth
Add the rice to the pan and cook until the grains become shiny and translucent. Deglace the pan with the wine, and scrape up all the browned bits. Start adding the cooking liquid with a ladle, and stirring to activate the starch in the rice. As it becomes absorbed continue adding liquid and stirring. Carefully season with salt and black pepper to taste – the chorizo and seafood base can be very salty.
- 20 large (not jumbo) shrimp
- 8 scallops
While the risotto is cooking, brush an indoor grilling pan with canola or grapeseed oil and bring it to high heat. Season the seafood with salt and pepper. Grill the seafood until the shrimp barely turn pink and the scallops are seared on the outside. Set aside. You could also grill squid/calamari, octopus, or any other seafood you like. We used what we had on hand that day.
- 3/4 cup defrosted sweet peas
- 1 tablespoon butter
- Asparagus spears
- Roasted red or piquillo peppers, sliced
When the rice is al dente (before adding the last ladleful of stock), add the sweet peas to the risotto pan. Add the stock and when the liquid evaporates, add the butter and mix to combine. Nestle the seafood and asparagus spears and garnish with the red peppers.
This is what it looks like… after we’re back for seconds!