The part of paella I couldn't dare change is the socarrat—the crisp browned rice on the bottom of the pan. The crust won't form until all of the liquid from the clams and the tomatoes has boiled off, so be patient with that last step: I promise you, it's worth it.
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 cups chopped yellow onion
3 garlic cloves, minced
2 poblano chiles, seeded and chopped
1 1/4 teaspoons kosher salt, divided
1/2 teaspoon black pepper, divided
3/4 cup uncooked short-grain brown rice
1/4 teaspoon saffron threads, crushed
2 cups water
1/8 teaspoon ground red pepper
1 1/2 cups fresh corn kernels (about 2 ears)
1 cup halved cherry tomatoes
2 pounds littleneck clams
2 tablespoons chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
8 lemon wedges
How to Make It
Preheat oven to 450°.
Heat oil in a 12-inch ovenproof skillet over medium-high heat. Add onion, garlic, poblanos, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon black pepper; sauté 3 minutes. Add rice and saffron. Cook 2 minutes; stir constantly. Add 2 cups water, 3/4 teaspoon salt, 1/4 teaspoon black pepper, and red pepper; bring to a boil.
Bake at 450° for 50 minutes or until rice is done. Stir in corn and tomatoes. Nestle clams into rice mixture. Bake at 450° for 12 minutes or until shells open, and discard unopened shells.
Return the pan to medium-high heat, and cook without stirring 10 minutes or until liquid evaporates and rice browns. (It should smell toasty but not burned.) Top with parsley; serve with lemon wedges.
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So, I must have read this recipe 10 times while the dish was in the 50 minute baking period, because it looked awful through the oven window. Sure enough, when I took the rice out to add the corn/tomatoes, the rice was crunchy and burnt and was throw in the trash as there was no way I was adding fresh seafood to that mess. I was so disappointed that I went to the reviews and found I wasn't the only one with this problem - the water evaporated during baking because the recipe doesn't tell you to cover the pan. They really need to fix the recipe as right now it's an easy way to waste some expensive ingridients, I'm one of those people that tries to follow a recipe exactly the first time before putting my own spin on it.
I've made this recipe for small dinner parties 6-8 times and it always elicits rave reviews from our guests (along with my husband). I leave out the salt and use clam juice instead of water. I use cayenne pepper for the red pepper and use both the called for poblanos, unless the available poblanos are very large. In that case I use one. It's a super-favorite and has always come out great.
This was delicious! One note of caution...be sure to put a lid on the dish while it's baking. Otherwise the rice doesn't absorb enough liquid - unfortunately we learned this the hard way and had to throw the whole thing away after the 50 minutes of baking. It came out perfectly the second time. Just leave the lid on for both baking sessions. And we also added Spanish chorizo, which I think is an absolute must.
A paella with some Mexican elements, e.g. corn and poblanos. I used a combination of sweet smoked pimenton and aleppo pepper for the ground red pepper. Used shrimp instead of clams and added low fat chorizo, just because I like chorizo in paella. The oven method just did not work for me at my altitude (7800 ft). It boiled dry long before the rice was done and was taking forever, so I finished it on the stove top. Very tasty though.