I decided one day to take a poll around everyone I knew and asked them, "Have you ever had a Paella?" I was pretty floored to find out that not one person I am in contact with said yes. To be honest, most of them had never even heard of it! For those of you who aren't familiar with this amazing Spanish dish, (more like a pan, Paella is actually a type of pan, thus why the dish gets it's name) it's almost like the original casserole of sorts. It has a little bit of everything in it. Traditionally, it's made with seafood only, although there are several different variations to it, the American version is a mix of land and sea. This Traeger version is going to touch on some traditional while giving it that BBQ kick, America style. There are a few fancy ingredients in here, so don't get scared. Most you can find at any good store, keep in mind you can make some substitutions as well if you can't.
Ultimate Traeger Paella
PREP TIME: 15 minutes
COOK TIME: 40 minutes
RECOMMENDED PELLETS: Mesquite
MAKES: 1 large pan
1 tbsp vegetable oil
1/2 yellow onion
2 cloves of garlic
5 chicken wings, cut down
1 regular can crushed tomatoes
1/4 cup freshly chopped parsley or cilantro
2 cups Spanish short grain rice (sub medium grain if you can't find it)
1 teaspoon paprika
3 cups of hot water
Pinch of saffron (exclude if you can't find it)
1 packaged smoked sausage (kielbasa variety)
1/2 pound of clams
1 lobster tail
1 large oven safe pan, preferably a Paella pan
First and foremost let's get all of our ingredients assembled to make our job easier as time comes to incorporate everything. We'll start with the sofrito! Get your onions, garlic and (I used cilantro, oregano can be used as well) ready and chopped.
What we're going to do is season up our sofrito with the paprika, cilantro and oregano now. This will deliver some major hispanic flavors all throughout the dish and the paprika will aid in that beautiful red color.
Let's go ahead and fire up the Traeger by opening up the lid and turning the setting to "smoke" making sure you flip the switch to on. Let this heat up for about 3-5 minutes, then switch the heat to high. While this is going, we can get our meat prepared.
One of the biggest things you need to do for this dish, scrub those clams. They tend to be covered in dirt so if you don't scrub, be prepared to chomp down on some nasty little bits. This will also give you time to inspect your clams. Get rid of any that might me cracked or open. That means the clam is dead so that's not good to eat. You want a shell that is closed up, if it's open ensure that it will close or discard. Then you can throw some Traeger Chicken rub on your chicken wings. Now, by this time your grill should be ready so let's kick it up to "High", grab our pan and our sofrito and get busy. Take a tbsp of oil and put it into your pan, then begin to sear off your onion and cilantro. Cook this mixture around 5 minutes, until the onions get nice and soft, then at the end add your garlic. If you add it earlier, it has a very good chance of burning.
Now that the sofrito is prepared, we can add our can of crushed tomatoes. You can really get any kind of tomatoes you'd like for this dish, I just feel the crushed tomatoes really incorporate well with everything and there won't be any large chunks of tomato spread throughout the dish. Mix the tomatoes in well with the sofrito.
As these flavors are melding together, let's take our hot water and add our pinch of saffron. If you've never seen this stuff in action, it's pretty amazing. Once you drop the threads in you will immediately see this beautiful color starting to spread in your water. This is going to be our broth, again, adding some amazing color to the dish. Let this sit a few minutes to get all of that amazing color and flavor out.
This is starting to look beautiful. We've got the broth working now and once you get the tomato all mixed in with the sofrito we can add our rice.
You want to really work the rice into the tomato mixture. Let the rice soak up that tomato juice and really take on these infusing flavors. We're going to let this incorporate for a good 3 minutes or so, this is the perfect time to get our meat on the grill and ready for the Paella. All we're needing right now is our sausage and our chicken. If we started cooking the lobster or clams now, they would be rubber by the time the meal was ready!
All we're looking to do with the meat right now is give it a little head start and introduce some color. Remember, color = flavor. Let's go ahead and get our broth and get this Paella really cooking.
Dump your broth into the Paella pan, saffron strands and all. Once you do this go ahead and give your sausage and chicken a little flip. We're going to cook the meat around another 5 minutes, then add it into the Paella. So in the mean time, let's go ahead and scrub our clams and split the lobster tail. If you have a nice sharp knife you can cut the lobster tail down the middle. If you don't trust yourself on that shell, take some kitchen shears and just cut right down the middle.
Everything is starting to smell fantastic, you'll know exactly what I mean when you get to this step. Let's go ahead and embed our chicken into the Paella to spread some more flavor.
If you're anything like me you've already got your fork in hand, ready to dig into this thing, but just hold tight, your patience will be rewarded. Let this cook about another 10 minutes, this will allow the rice to soak up these juices and get to the perfect texture! Once the 10 minutes are up it's about time we get the clams and sausage into the pool. Your broth will be reducing dramatically and these clams will only need around 4-5 minutes to open.
We're at the final stages now. To finish this dish off, throw the lobster tails on the very top and push down a little bit. It will only take about 3 minutes for the lobster to cook. Make sure to stay by your grill, make sure you're paying attention to the pan. At this point the broth should be getting close to absorbed and what you're doing now is constantly smelling this amazing mixture. Traditionally, when you make a Paella you let the bottom form a sort of crust, called the socarrat. It's the best part of the dish so all you're doing now is letting that lobster cook and making sure you don't burn the bottom! Congratulations, now you're ready to garnish with a little cilantro and a couple squeezes of lemon juice and you're ready to dive in. This beautiful dish has a very rich history and I'm hoping now it will be a part of your Traeger arsenal to impress your friends! Make sure you're taking pictures of your food and tagging us on our social media sites like Facebook or Twitter and Instagram @traegergrills.