Going rogue on paella - some feedback please
So I'm taking my basic paella recipe and going a bit nuts with it. If you're a purist, please don't chastise me - I know this isn't biblically authentic but I'm ok with that. My paella usually includes chicken thighs, chorizo, shrimp and mussels. This time I'm removing the chicken altogether and halving the amount of chorizo. Adding 2 small cooked lobsters and want to use scallops in addition to the shrimp. May or may not use mussels - I'll see what they look like at the store today. Here are my questions: Should I remove the lobster meat from the shells or just chop up the lobster and add the chunks to the rice? The claws, I think, I'll leave intact, in any case. And I'm thinking I should sear the scallops before adding them to the paella in mid-cook. I don't like gelatinous scallops and that's what I'm afraid I'll get if they're not seared first. On the other hand, I don't want them overcooked either.
I start the paella on the stove top to the point that the rice has come to a simmer, then finish it in the oven. I add the shrimp (and mussels) when it goes into the oven. Any advice here would be greatly appreciated.
I would sear the scallops and add them to the paella maybe 3/4 of the way into the cook. But I prefer my scallops *just* done. And I think I would do the same with the lobsters. Cut them into roughly the same size as the scallops, do a quick saute/sear on them and throw them on top the same time as the scallops, as they'd take about the same amount of time to cook. :)
I think you have a sterling idea. If you intend to make this a formal presentation where you'd use silverware for the meal, I'd remove the lobster from the shells. Otherwise, if it's a "grab and growl" meal where you'd eat with your hands, leaving the lobster intact seems appropriate. I'd brown the scallops and hold them back, adding them just before serving. I'm not a fan of chorizo in any form so I can't speak to that except to say that, if I did like chorizo, I wouldn't use it in this dish.
Good idea to sear the scallops and you're correct to pay attention to their cooking time so they don't get overdone and rubbery. As to the lobster, I'd shell it (especially the claws) which should make for a better looking presentation and avoid having to wrestle with rice-covered lobster shells at the table.
I do the whole thing on the stove to get a good crust on the bottom, covering the pan with foil after I add the shellfish.
Here are a couple of recent versions, one mariscada (shrimp & scallops), one with chicken chorizo (had Muslims in the house, ergo no pork) and one with chicken thighs
Ok great thanks everyone. Will sear scallops and add them late. Will inspect lobster (maybe remove some of the meat and leave the more decorative bits intact). Didn't get mussels - you had to buy a whole bag of them and I would only have wanted maybe a dozen or so. And their clams weren't right. So none of that. Off we go!
IMO Pork and shellfish are one of those classic flavor combos, so I'd vote yes on the chorizo. I would also leave the lobster in the shell because this would add flavor to the dish as it cooks. You can chop the tails into medallions with a cleaver leaving the shell intact and still have smaller portions to distribute evenly. And I'm with you 100% on the parcooking of the scallops. Give them a hard sear and place them in the rice for the last few minutes of cooking.
Too late on the lobster - I've de-shelled most of it but left the bodies intact and will arrange them with swimmerets dangling menacingly. Even that alone may add some flavour. Also I'm using lobster stock that I had frozen from the last time we had a lobster-fest at home, so plenty of shellfish flavour. As for the chorizo, I'm going to add it because to me it always says paella, whether it's proper or not. Scallops are draining on paper towels and will sear them before adding. This is a birthday dinner so I want it all very wonderful. Also serving grilled quails which I am marinating and homemade sourdough bread. Dessert is a maple pecan tart (request from birthday boy) even though I probably would have preferred something lighter.