The Maryland pantry supports so many culinary traditions. While Al was in Spain this past spring, he had more than one plate of their famous national dish, paella. And it so happens that one of our creative local chefs has adapted paella to work with Maryland seafood. Chef David Ludwig, from Anne Arundel Community College, teaches cooking in their Hospitality and Culinary Arts Department and shares his recipe for a Chesapeake Bay paella.
Here are some paella basics: First, you need the broad, flat, shallow paella pan. These are available for as little as $20 for a 15" model. Next, since this is a rice dish, you want the classic rice, a variety called bomba. This is also easily found in upscale grocery stores like Wegman's. After that, it's up to you. You must have a seafood protein and a land protein. A little cured meat of some sort is also in order. And don't forget your favorite vegetables: tomatoes, onions, garlic and peppers are standard.
But it's the seafood that make the difference, and living on the shores of the Chesapeake Bay, we have quite a lot to offer.
¼ cup olive oil
2 slices bacon, diced
1 cup onion, diced
cloves garlic, minced
1 green bell pepper, julienned
6 oz. local chorizo sausage
1 cup bomba rice, sautéed in olive oil
pinch of saffron
1/2 tsp Old Bay seasoning
3 cups vegetable stock
1/2 pound shrimp
1/2 pound scallops
1/2 pound local mussels
1/2 pound jumbo lump crabcake, crumbled
1/2 cup frozen peas
1. Using a 12" paella pan, cook the bacon to crispy. Remove the bacon, and set aside for later.
2. Sauté the onion, garlic and peppers in the bacon fat. Supplement with the olive oil if necessary.
3. Sauté the rice with the saffron and Old Bay in the remaining oil.
4. Add the sausage, bacon and the cooked vegetables. Slowly add 2/3 of the stock. Continue to cook.
5. Add the peeled and deveined shrimp, scallops and mussels.
If the pan becomes dry add more stock. Continue to cook until the mussels open and the rice is just about done.
6. Add the crab and peas at the very end, and cook until the peas are hot.
Serve hot and enjoy.