Paella is another member of our rotating weeknight dinners. It’s a one-pot dish that can be on the table in about 30 minutes AND you can swap out the proteins to keep it from getting boring. But really, paella is never boring. The best part is the crisp caramelized rice layer (the socarrat) at the bottom. It honestly took me a few tries to get that crisp right but I learned the secret: don’t stir the rice. I know it’s tempting; every part of you wants to stir that rice to get it evenly cooked. But DON’T DO IT. You won’t regret it, I promise. This version includes shrimp and peas, but I’ve also used spicy sausage (chorizo or andouille work) and chicken.
shrimp and pea paella
- shrimp and pea paella
- 3 tablespoons olive oil
- 5 garlic cloves, minced
- 1 shallot, minced
- 1½ cups Arborio rice (I've also used long and medium-grain brown rice and it was just as delicious)
- 1 pinch of saffron, about 5-10 strands
- ¼ cup dry white wine (sauvingon blanc or pinot grigio work)
- 1½ cups chicken or vegetable stock
- 1 can (14.5 ounces) diced tomatoes, drained
- ¾ pound large shrimp, peeled and de-veined, tails on or off
- 1 cup frozen peas, thawed
- Salt and pepper to taste
- In a large skillet, heat oil and shallot over medium heat. Cook until shallot is softened, about 3 minutes. Add garlic and cook for 1 minute or until fragrant. Stir in rice and cook until rice is lightly toasted, about 3 minutes.
- Add wine and stir until evaporated. Add stock, saffron and tomatoes and bring to a simmer. Cover and cook until rice is tender and most of liquid is absorbed, 10 minutes.
- Place shrimp evenly around the skillet and top with peas. Cover and cook until shrimp is cooked through (will turn white-ish pink), about 7-10 minutes. Season with salt and pepper.
Growing up in Wisconsin, I haven’t been exposed to a lot of shrimp and grits. Actually, like none. I had my first taste a few months ago at Maxie’s Southern Comfort and I became hooked. I finally had the perfect storm of ingredients in my pantry tonight and couldn’t resist giving them a try. Let me warn you though: while most of the food I make is healthy, this one is not. The shrimp is cooked in bacon fat. And it is awesome. I lightened this version up a bit (a tiny bit) by omitting the butter and cooking the grits with chicken stock instead of water, infusing a lot more flavor into them during the cooking process.
smoky poblano shrimp and grits
- 3 cups low-sodium chicken stock
- ¼ cup of milk
- 1 cup yellow cornmeal
- ½ cup sharp cheddar cheese, shredded
- Salt and freshly ground pepper
- 1 tablespoon paprika, smoked or regular
- 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- ¾ pound slab bacon, cut into ¼-inch pieces
- 2 small poblano peppers, diced
- 1 shallot, minced
- 4 garlic cloves, minced
- 1 pound shelled and deveined shrimp
- 2 tablespoons chopped flat-leaf parsley
- In a medium saucepan, bring the stock to a boil. Whisk in the grits and cook over medium-high heat, stirring constantly. Cook until grains are tender, about 5 minutes. Add the milk and continue to stir for another minute. Add cheese, season with salt and pepper and whisk just until the cheese is melted. Cover and remove from the heat.
- In a medium sized bowl, add shrimp, paprika and salt and toss until combined.
- In a large, deep skillet, heat the olive oil. Add the bacon and cook over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally, until the fat is rendered bacon is just crisp (about 8 minutes). Transfer the bacon to a paper towel-lined plate.
- With the bacon fat still on medium heat, add the garlic, shallot, and poblano pepper and cook over medium heat just until softened. Add the shrimp and cook until curled and pink, about 3 minutes. Stir in the bacon and season with salt and pepper to taste.
- Spoon the warm, cheesy grits into shallow bowls and top with the shrimp and bacon. Serve immediately.