One Dish, One Pan, Weber Style

How about Paella to celebrate the Labor Day Weekend! But on the Weber. We love dining at home, especially on weekends. My husband typically gets excited and becomes adventurous on the weekends with meal planning. He enjoys a challenge, seeks out flavorful food, and loves firing up the grill. He did all the work for this dish and deserves all the glory! Cook’s Illustrated and The New York Times are his go to sources for interesting dishes.

Paella on the Weber should be on your next weekend menu. Invite some friends because this dish is best shared with be those you love. Maybe you add a fresh herby green salad and sliced watermelon for dessert. FYI this dish takes time but well worth it. The charcoal Weber grill makes this the perfect summer, fall, and spring dish to cook outside.

It takes a run to the grocery store and some prep with a little bit of kitchen time. He used an aluminum disposable pan which has its benefits but you don’t get that crisp crunchy rice sticking to the pan. But nothing to scrub is a major upside to me!

Here is the recipe from Cook’s Illustrated. We substituted spicy chicken for the chorizo and also left out the clams. The dish still had loads of flavor. Don’t be afraid to add some of your favorite hot sauce along with the fresh squeezed lemon!

1 ½pounds boneless, skinless chicken thighs, trimmed and halved crosswise
Salt and pepper
12ounces jumbo shrimp (16 to 20 per pound), peeled and deveined
6tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
6garlic cloves, minced
1 ¾teaspoons hot smoked paprika
3tablespoons tomato paste
4cups chicken broth
1(8-ounce) bottle clam juice
cup dry sherry
Pinch saffron threads (optional)
1onion, chopped fine
½cup jarred roasted red peppers, chopped fine
3cups Arborio rice
1pound littleneck clams, scrubbed
1pound Spanish-style chorizo sausage, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
1cup frozen peas, thawed
Lemon wedges

Instructions:

This recipe was developed using a light-colored 16 by 13.5-inch tri-ply roasting pan; however, it can be made in any heavy roasting pan that measures at least 14 by 11 inches. If your roasting pan is dark in color, the cooking times will be on the lower end of the ranges given. The recipe can also be made in a 15- to 17-inch paella pan. If littlenecks are unavailable, use 1½ pounds shrimp in step 1 and season them with ½ teaspoon salt.

1. Place chicken on large plate and sprinkle both sides with 1 teaspoon salt and 1 teaspoon pepper. Toss shrimp with 1 tablespoon oil, ½ teaspoon garlic, ¼ teaspoon paprika, and ¼ teaspoon salt in bowl until evenly coated. Set aside.

2. Heat 1 tablespoon oil in medium saucepan over medium heat until shimmering. Add remaining garlic and cook, stirring constantly, until garlic sticks to bottom of saucepan and begins to brown, about 1 minute. Add tomato paste and remaining 1½ teaspoons paprika and continue to cook, stirring constantly, until dark brown bits form on bottom of saucepan, about 1 minute. Add broth, clam juice, sherry, and saffron, if using. Increase heat to high and bring to boil. Remove saucepan from heat and set aside.

3A. For a Charcoal Grill: Open bottom vent completely. Light large chimney starter mounded with charcoal briquettes (7 quarts). When top coals are partially covered with ash, pour evenly over grill. Using tongs, arrange 20 unlit briquettes evenly over coals. Set cooking grate in place, cover, and open lid vent completely. Heat grill until hot, about 5 minutes.

3B. For a Gas Grill: Turn all burners to high, cover, and heat grill until hot, about 15 minutes. Leave all burners on high.

4. Clean and oil cooking grate. Place chicken on grill and cook until both sides are lightly browned, 5 to 7 minutes total. Return chicken to plate. Clean cooking grate.

5. Place roasting pan on grill (turning burners to medium-high if using gas) and add remaining ¼ cup oil. When oil begins to shimmer, add onion, red peppers, and ½ teaspoon salt. Cook, stirring frequently, until onion begins to brown, 4 to 7 minutes. Add rice (turning burners to medium if using gas) and stir until grains are well coated with oil.

6. Arrange chicken around perimeter of pan. Pour broth mixture and any accumulated juices from chicken over rice. Smooth rice into even layer, making sure nothing sticks to sides of pan and no rice rests atop chicken. When liquid reaches gentle simmer, place shrimp in center of pan in single layer. Arrange clams in center of pan, evenly distributing with shrimp and pushing hinge sides of clams into rice slightly so they stand up. Distribute chorizo evenly over surface of rice. Cook (covered if using gas), moving and rotating pan to maintain gentle simmer across entire surface of pan, until rice is almost cooked through, 12 to 18 minutes. (If using gas, heat can also be adjusted to maintain simmer.)

7. Sprinkle peas evenly over paella, cover grill, and cook until liquid is fully absorbed and rice on bottom of pan sizzles, 5 to 8 minutes. Continue to cook, uncovered, checking bottom of pan frequently with metal spoon, until uniform golden-brown crust forms, 8 to 15 minutes longer. (Rotate and slide pan around grill as necessary to ensure even crust formation.) Remove pan fr

Why this dish works from CI:

Grilling paella lends the dish subtle smoke and a particularly caramelized crust and makes it a great dish for summer entertaining. In place of a traditional paella pan, we cooked ours in a large, sturdy roasting pan that maximized the amount of socarrat, the prized caramelized rice crust that forms on the bottom of the pan. Building a large (7-quart) fire and fueling it with fresh coals (which ignited during cooking) ensured that the heat output would last throughout cooking, but we also shortened the outdoor cooking time by using roasted red peppers and tomato paste (instead of fresh peppers and tomatoes), making an infused broth with the seasonings, and grilling (rather than searing) the chicken thighs. To ensure that the various components finished cooking at the same time, we staggered the addition of the proteins—first the chicken thighs, followed by the chorizo, shrimp, and clams. We also deliberately placed the chicken on the perimeter of the pan, where it would finish cooking gently after grilling, and the sausage and seafood in the center, where they were partially submerged in the liquid so that they cooked through; once the liquid reduced, the steam kept them warm.

Such a great dish for entertaining. Thanks Cook’s Illustrated! Happy cooking!

A Salad For Your Next Picnic

Inspiration for your next picnic. A big beautiful salad that requires little prep and a couple of mason jars. Hit your local farm stand for some summer freshness and you are half way there.

Mason jar #1: layer with fresh summer corn (cook it then cut it off the cob), black beans, diced cucumbers, farm fresh heirloom tomatoes, and diced avocado (swap in or out what you like)

Mason jar #2: shredded roasted chicken (grilled shrimp also works well)

Additional mason jars: fill with fresh slices of pineapples, local strawberries, or other summertime favorites. Yes, the jars add some weight to the cooler but you can reuse the jars (save a tree and use less plastic).

Pack a small container of your favorite dressing along with small container of feta. The avocado and feta combo really makes this salad creamy and super tasty. Don’t forget a large bowl and wooden serving utensils to prepare your salad. Serve salad in large cups like a solo cup with forks. So much easier to eat!

Tips to save time:

Buy a roasted chicken then shred it yourself. Pre-washed greens of any kind makes this a fast and easy salad. Honestly you don’t even need greens if you want to pass totally up on them. Perhaps toss in some fresh herbs instead.

Enjoy!

Pesto On Everything!

A summer classic and one you should make yourself. Pesto is just fresh basil plus five other on hand ingredients, a food processor, and minimal effort. Spread it on a fresh tomato mozzarella sandwich, drizzle it over grilled veggies and meats, or simply add it to pasta. Pesto on everything!

Pesto recipes are all pretty much the same with slight variations but I am particularly fond of Ina Garten’s recipe. She mixes pine nuts and walnuts which is provides a nice balanced nutty flavor. A bit of fresh squeezed lemon is also nice. Play with the garlic; this recipe is not shy with it. Ina just hits recipe home runs. Her cookbooks are ones to own and you’ll always find yourself flipping through for inspiration.

Ingredients:
1/4 cup walnuts
1/4 cup pine nuts
3 tablespoons chopped garlic (9 cloves)
5 cups fresh basil leaves, packed
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 1/2 cups good olive oil
1 cup freshly grated Parmesan

Directions:
Place the walnuts, pine nuts, and garlic in the bowl of a food processor fitted with a steel blade. Process for 30 seconds. Add the basil leaves, salt, and pepper. With the processor running, slowly pour the olive oil into the bowl through the feed tube and process until the pesto is thoroughly pureed. Add the Parmesan and puree for a minute. Serve, or store the pesto in the refrigerator or freezer with a thin film of olive oil on top

Pasta, Pesto and Peas is delicious. Picnic food! Barefoot Contessa

Fruit Lovers Only

The season for fresh juicy peaches and vibrant berries is here. Last weekend, the peaches and berries were on full display at the farmers market.  I am already regretting not buying more of them.   The season is short and you must take advantage of your local farmer’s bounty.  Pick them yourself if you have the time.  Such a wonderful summer activity.  I have found two different ways to enjoy these summer delights from epicurious that if times allows, I will give a go.  Otherwise, I will add them to my greek yogurt or enjoy them one bite at a time while lounging on deck.

Peach Salad, Blueberry and Corn Crisp from epicurious.  And if you are really up for enjoying some peaches long after the season then this jam looks damn tasty (maybe it is the bourbon that caught my attention).

Pesto Perfect

Pan Seared Salmon With Spinach Basil Sauce

Came home from the farmers market with a bounty of fresh basil and salmon.  I did a quick surf on the web and found this lovely recipe from Whole and Heavenly Oven for pan seared salmon with spinach basil pesto sauce.  Pesto is one of those easy peasy dishes to whip up quickly.  The vibrant green sauce has just a few ingredients and boy is it good.  It is so summer!  I did a hybrid of Whole and Heavenly Oven’s  recipe with my favorite pesto recipe from Silver Palate (sorry but it is so damn good!).  I wanted to insure that I would have extra sauce to enjoy throughout the week.

At the end I did 1 cup basil, 1 cup spinach, 1/2 cup of toasted pine nuts, 3 garlic cloves, lemon instead of lime, 1 cup of olive oil, 1 cup fresh parmesan, and salt and pepper.  Pesto is one of dishes that you can play with by adding a little more or a little less of any of the ingredients and you will be enjoying it by the spoonfuls!  Happy cooking!

image from Whole and Heavenly Oven