Seafood Paella (or Paella Valenciana), on the Grill!

Disclaimer:  I make no claims about how "authentic" this recipe is.  I try to write recipes that are true to the time-honored and time-consuming cooking techniques of the originators, while keeping in mind that most folks don't have pimento wood laying around for a true Jamaican jerk experience, for example.

After months of research, I've learned that paella-making varies with each cook, so there isn't any one "authentic" paella recipe. But you can't go wrong with seafood, garlic, and a grill-so use this recipe as a backbone for your own paella-making approach and have some fun.

Traditional paella is made over an open flame in a large, handled paella pan.  A lot of recipes call for cooking the paella over two burners on your stove, or sauteing then baking the dish.  My recipe is even easier, and there are a lot of benefits to cooking the paella on the grill.  One, your kitchen doesn't heat up, so it's great for summer. Also, people are impressed when you can cook more than brats and burgers over an open flame.  (Why? I have no idea, but try it and you'll see what I mean.) Finally, grilling the chicken and chorizo while you make your sofrito saves some time and adds the perfect smokiness to the dish that you don't get from sauteing them on your stove.

 This recipe can feed approximately 8 people, so plan on leftovers or call some friends.  Paella is even better the next day, so you can legitimately have guests over for "leftovers" with this recipe, and they will love you for it.

And I've said it before, but if you cook at home, there's no reason why you can't take the chicken carcass and the shrimp shells and make your own stock.  It's easy, healthy, and will save you loads of money. I can't tell you how many times I've been able to make last minute meals making soups or risottos with whatever is in my fridge/pantry and some homemade stock from the freezer. Think about it.

Paella Valenciana with Shrimp, Squid, Chorizo, Chicken, and Clams Recipe

1 whole chicken, skinned and cut into thighs, drumsticks, and breast pieces and seasoned w/saltpepper
8 cloves garlic, minced
3 ripe tomatoes, chopped (some say to "grate the tomatoes." That thought grosses me out)
1 medium onion, chopped
3 Tbs. olive oil
4 cups shrimp stock, fish stock, or clam juice
Large pinch saffron
2 cups arborio or another short-grained rice (important-the rice has to absorb the broth. Short grained rices do this well)
1 lb. uncooked shrimp, peeled but with tails intact
1/2 lb. chorizo sausage, pierced with a knife in several places
3-4 whole uncooked squid, with the bodies cut into rings
12-15 uncooked clams, scubbed
1 cup peas (can use frozen + thawed)
1 yellow and 1 red bell pepper, cut into strips
2 tsp. salt,  more to taste
2 tsp. smoked paprika
3 Thyme sprigs
3 lemons, cut into wedges
Black pepper to taste

Bring the stock to a boil, then add the saffron.  Keep the broth/saffron covered and simmering on low for at least 1 hour before you add it to the paella. 

Prepare the grill for direct medium-high heat (If you're using your weber kettle, fill the charcoal chimney up with coals.  Once they are hot, dump them into the middle of your grill and add 8 or so cold coals on top of the hot ones.)  Cover the bottom of your paella pan with foil to protect it a little from the fire.

Put the pan on the grill, and heat the olive oil.  This may take a minute or two. Add the chicken pieces to the grill surrounding the paella pan and let them cook. The boneless breast pieces and will need to be pulled off the grill long before the bone-in pieces, so have a clean plate standing by. As you remove the cooked breast pieces from the grill, add the chorizo and grill until browned. (This adds flavor to the sausage, and allows some of the grease to cook out so your paella tastes fresh and light, not greasy). Remove the chorizo and once cooled, cut into slices.

Once the oil is hot, add the onion and cook 5 minutes.  Add the garlic and cook one minute.  Add the tomatoes and cook, stirring constantly until the tomato mixture darkens and reduces to the consistency of jam.  Now you have a sofrito.  Woohoo!

Bring the broth mixture on your stove back to a slow boil. Add your rice to the sofrito in your paella pan and toast the rice for 2 minutes. Stir in the boiling broth mixture, peppers, squid, chicken, paprika, salt, a pinch of pepper, thyme, and chorizo. (Classic case of "do as I say, not as I do." Don't add the peas yet!).

Cover the grill and let cook for 35 minutes. After 35 minutes, check to make sure your paella is cooking. If some of the rice looks wetter than other parts of the pan, push it towards the center of the pan gently with a spoon. Once the rice is almost cooked, add the peas, push the clams down into the rice, and lay the shrimp on top. Cover the grill and cook another 10 minutes, or until the clams open up. Carefully remove the paella from the grill, remove the thyme sprigs, and serve with lemon wedges for people to squeeze over their paella before

Summer Sides: Black Tea Tarragon Couscous Salad Recipe

In honor of the trial I'll be lawyering it up for through May and June, I'd like to sing a little jingle from OSSS (Old School Sesame Street) with the lyrics updated for my grown up life. (Sing to the tune of "Cooperation")
Makes it happen. 
Shirking together!

That's right.  Every weekend I take a stack of papers home to read, review, mark-up and every weekend I cook, eat, drink, and make merry instead. This wouldn't be a big deal, except that I'm still a baby lawyer and I'm essentially making my Trial Attorney Debut (does that make me a debutante?) in front of the lawyers I will be working for, with, and against for the rest of my career. No pressure or anything.

Anyway, I cook tons of food and develop new recipes in order to perfect my procrastinating skills (a woman has to have goals!), so consider this recipe the fruits of my labors at avoiding real work.  The black tea flavor is subtle, but it adds a dark, tannic undertone to an otherwise bright dish, and the tarragon adds a little sweet lingering aftershock to the crisp lemon and cucumber flavors.  This salad would be good as a snack with some hummus and pita, or even as a side for a rich lamb dish.

Black Tea Tarragon Couscous Salad

2 cups pre-steamed dry couscous (if the instructions say to mix w/boiling liquid, it's pre-steamed)
2 1/2 cups hot, strong black tea-divided
Juice of 2 medium lemons
Zest of 1 medium lemon
2 cucumbers, seeded and thinly sliced
2 Tbs. olive oil
1 clove of garlic, minced
1 Tbs. smoked paprika
2 tsp. cumin
4 Tbs. chopped fresh tarragon
2 Tbs. chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
Salt to taste

Stir together 1/2 cup of black tea with the lemon juice and zest, olive oil, paprika, cumin, tarragon, and parsley.  Let it sit and let the flavors combine while you prepare the couscous.

Place the dried couscous in a larger bowl and stir in the minced garlic. Bring 2 cups of the black tea to a boil.  Pour the tea over the couscous/garlic, stir to combine, cover with plastic wrap and let steam.  After 15 minutes, fluff couscous with a fork. Stir in the cucumbers and the herb/tea/lemon mixture.  Season with salt (it may need a good bit of seasoning, since the flavors are all very light and crisp) and serve cold or room