Brendan Collins is executive chef of Birch, Larry’s, and the Corner Door in Los Angeles and just published a spectacular volume of so-called “dude food” that’s so much more than burgers, bacon and beer. Prepare for large volumes of meat, simple and delicious vegetable preparations and superb composed entrées, like this paella that subs out rice for quinoa (and doesn’t skimp on the shrimp!).
Each summer when I was growing up, the Collinses had our two weeks somewhere warm in mainland Europe to get sunburned and sleep late. One year, on a trip to the island of Majorca, my mum was adamant that we experience the local culture. I immediately took to Spanish food — it’s hard not to like crispy-fried patatas bravas, oozing croquetas, and Serrano ham, after all — but wasn’t so sure about the paella. Rice was still a novelty in 1980s Britain, and it wasn’t for me. Years later, when I moved to the States and discovered quinoa, I knew that it would make a perfect substitute. It might fly in the face of tradition, but I find quinoa easier to eat than rice and really dig how it absorbs all the dish’s delicious flavors while adding a pleasing crunch.
- 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 large onion, diced
- 1 carrot, diced
- 1 rib celery, diced
- 1 leek, diced
- 4 piquillo peppers, diced
- 2 medium tomatoes, diced
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- 4 ounces Spanish chorizo, diced
- 1 cup quinoa, rinsed
- 1 teaspoon curry powder
- 1/4 teaspoon spanish paprika
- 1 cup white wine
- 1 (8-ounce) bottle clam juice
- 4 ounces raw jumbo shrimp, peeled and deveined
- 6 ounces clams
- 6 ounces mussels
- 4 ounces cooked lobster meat, chopped
- 4 ounces fresh scallops
- 2 tablespoons chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
- 1 teaspoon chopped fresh dill
- 2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro
- salt and black pepper
- 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
For the paella
In a Dutch oven over medium-high heat, heat the oil until it shimmers. Chuck in the diced vegetables and cook for 5 minutes, or until they’re soft and beginning to color. Add the garlic, chorizo, quinoa, and spices and cook for another 5 minutes.
Stir in the wine and let it reduce by half. Add the clam juice, cover the pot with a lid, reduce the heat, and let it slowly simmer for about 15 minutes.
Now add the shrimp and stir them around for 30 seconds, or until they begin to turn pink. Add the clams and mussels, cover the pot, and cook for about 4 minutes, until the shells open.
Stir the lobster and scallops into the quinoa; you’re basically just warming them through and lightly cooking the scallops. Stir in the chopped fresh herbs and season the dish with salt, pepper, and the lemon juice. Drizzle a little bit of oil over the top, place the pot in the middle of the table, and serve.