Scallop, Chorizo and Artichoke Paella

by Kristin on June 9, 2011

I’d like to think that if blogs had been around when Kelly and I went to high school and college together, we might have turned out like Cara Eisenpress and Phoebe Lapine, blogging our way through our first boyfriends, first jobs and first dinner parties as we learned how to cook along the way. We might have set up a blog like their popular Big Girls, Small Kitchen, landed ourselves a book deal and had the Barefoot Contessa write the foreword to it. If only, right? But failing all that, I wish someone had given me a cookbook like theirs, In the Small Kitchen, when I moved into my first apartment and started cooking for myself and my friends. It would have been a hell of a lot better than 1,001 Vegetarian Recipes.

The book is aimed at the twenty-something crowd just finding their feet in the kitchen, with chapters like ‘Cooking for One’, ‘Potlucking’, ‘Cocktail Parties’, ‘Dating and Food’ and ‘One Year Closer to Thirty’, but there’s plenty here to inspire complete beginners and more well-seasoned cooks alike. Also bookmarked to try are Provencal baked chicken, chipotle hummus, black bean dip, coconut peanut sauce, spiked lemonade and pumpkin cake with chai cream. With graduation season upon us, In the Small Kitchen would make the perfect gift for students heading off to college or moving out into their own place, or for any new cook who’s just starting to learn their way around the kitchen.

Scallop, Chorizo and Artichoke Paella
adapted from In the Small Kitchen by Cara Eisenpress and Phoebe Lapine

Serves 8

I made a special trip to the fishmonger to get scallops, only to be told that they didn’t have any because of the recent bad weather (typical!). After some quick thinking, I decided to substitute 1 lb (450 g) of prawns instead. I simply skipped the first step and added the prawns into the paella at the very end of the cooking time, letting the heat of the rice quickly cook them right before serving. This dish reminded me of one of our family favorites, oven-baked risotto with sausages and tomato, and was just as much of a hit with the kids.

2 to 3 tablespoons olive oil
1 lb (450 g) scallops
1 lb (450 g) chorizo, cut diagonally into 1 1/2-inch pieces
1 large onion, diced
4 cloves garlic, minced
8 to 10 scallions, white and green parts chopped separately
2 cups (360 g) Arborio rice
1/2 cup (125 ml) dry white wine or vermouth
1 x 15 oz (400 g) can of crushed tomatoes
1 x 9 oz (250 g) package frozen artichoke hearts, or jarred or canned artichoke hearts (rinsed and drained if using jarred or canned)
2 teaspoons smoked paprika
1 teaspoon salt
3 to 4 cups chicken stock
lemon wedges, for garnish

In a large cast iron skillet or a Dutch oven, heat 2 tablespoons of the olive oil over a medium-high heat until the oil is shiny and just about to smoke. While the oil is heating, quickly pat the scallops dry and remove and discard the tough side muscles. Sear the scallops in batches in the hot oil until browned and crusty on both sides, about 2 minutes per side. [Check out this post from The BA Daily blog about how to perfectly sear scallops.]

Transfer the scallops to a plate. Add the chorizo to the skillet and brown it, turning on all sides, for 2 to 5 minutes. Remove the chorizo with a slotted spoon and set aside.

Reduce the heat to medium and saute the onion in the remaining oil until translucent, scraping up any drippings in the skillet. Add the garlic and the white part of the chopped scallions and cook for another 2 minutes. Add the rice and stir to coat it in the onion mixture, allowing it to get covered in the oil and begin to toast, which should take about 3 minutes. Add the wine and cook for 2 to 3 minutes, until the liquid has reduced by nearly half. Use your spoon or spatula to help deglaze the pan and lift up any caramelized bits.

Stir in the tomatoes and their juices, artichokes, paprika and salt. Return the chorizo to the skillet and add enough stock to submerge the rice mixture. Bring the liquid to a boil, then reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer for 25 to 30 minutes, until the rice is cooked through, all the liquid has been absorbed and the rice is beginning to become crusty around the edges.

Using the back of your spoon, make indents in the top of the rice and arrange the scallops in them. Pour the scallop juices over the skillet and cook until all the liquid has been absorbed. Garnish with the chopped scallion greens and lemon wedges. Serve warm, straight from the skillet.

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