Maine Lobster Paella

By: The Culinary Institute of America

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Kerry Altiero, chef and owner of Cafe Miranda in Rockland, Maine, won Maine’s Lobster Chef of the Year title in 2012. In this video Chef Altiero shows us how to make lobster paella, which he also calls Maine Wedding Special.

Yield: 4 Portions

Ingredients

Garlic cloves, coarsely chopped, 3 ea.
Sweet onion, cut into large dice, 1 ea.
Celery rib, including leaves, chopped, 1 ea.
Poblano pepper, large, split, seeded and ripped coarsely, 1 ea.
Chouriço, 4 oz.
Bay leaves, 2 ea.
Tomatoes, ripe, diced, or 2 cups/473 ml diced canned tomatoes, 3 ea.
Saffron threads, ½ tsp.
Risotto, parcooked or other short-grain rice, 2/3 cup
Maine lobsters (1 ½ lb.), still squirming, 2 ea.
Oranges, juice of, 2 ea.
Fish or lobster stock or low-sodium natural clam juice, ½ cup
Mussels, rinsed and debearded, ½ lb.
Sea salt
Ground black pepper
Olive oil, as needed

Directions

Preheat your oven (or smoker) to 500°F/260°C, or its highest level.

In a wide, metal pan, place ¼-cup of olive oil, the garlic, onion, and celery. Put it in the oven and let cook, stirring occasionally, until the onion softens, 8 minutes. Add the green pepper. Cook for about 5 minutes, until the color brightens and they turn a bit brown.

Add chouriço, bay leaves, tomatoes, and saffron. Cook for 20 to 30 minutes, simmering the “sauce” in the oven. Add the risotto and stir.

Split the lobster from head to tail. Scrape the entrails out of the body and head cavities. Clean the vein in the tail. Crack the claws with the back of a French knife or whack with a meat mallet. (This permits the claw meat to cook in approximately the same time as the tail.) Add the orange juice and stock to the sauce. Place the lobster halves on the sauce, spooning some onto all parts of the lobster.

Back to the forno. Cook for 10 to 20 minutes, then add the mussels. Cook for about as long again. When it is done, the lobster tail meat will be firm (not dry—that’s why you spooned the sauce over it). The mussels will be open and the rice cooked through. Add salt and pepper to finish. The chouriço and the natural brininess of the mussel and lobster juice add salt; do taste before you salt.

Serve in the casserole dish with big spoons, claw crackers and picks.