Paella with Poblanos, Corn, and Clams

16 May

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

1. Preheat oven to 450°.
2. 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.
3. 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.
4. 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.

Mark Bittman, Cooking Light , May 2011

I made this paella last night before heading out to watch the bulls wins (!) so I was drinking a sauvignon blanc and managed to burn myself not once or twice but three times on the pot.  Once the pot goes in the oven, keep the mitt on if you are in the habit of holding the handle while stirring your skillet-cooking foods.  Yes, I am an idiot, but hopefully this warning will help others avoid the same finger-burning fate.

The burns were worth every second!  I’ve never had a dish with saffron or poblano that I didn’t like and this was certainly no exception.  I’ve made paellas in the past, but this is hands down my favorite.  The wealth of smoky heat is balanced by the citrus of fresh squeezed lemon pouring from the perfectly cooked clams.  Nothing overpowers here.  The corn adds texture and a nice sweetness.  This dish is perfect for entertaining because the hands-on time is relatively short, but the product is complex and impressive.   Or you can make it for two to spice up an otherwise average Sunday night.

I strongly recommend serving with a light white wine.

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