Paella can be made with all sorts of meat, seafood and vegetables. This version takes a luxurious twist with the addition of fresh lobster. The recipe also calls for piquillo peppers, a sweet, intensely flavored Spanish pepper that is fire-roasted after harvesting and packed in jars. If you can’t find them, roasted red bell peppers are a fine substitute. For a more flavorful broth to add to the rice, you can make a fresh lobster stock from the leftover shells and bodies.
- Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
- 2 live lobsters, each about 1 1/4 lb. (625 g)
- 2 Tbs. olive oil
- 1 large yellow onion, chopped
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- 2 fennel bulbs, trimmed and cut into 1/2-inch (12-mm) dice
- 2 cups (14 oz./440 g) Bomba, Calasparra or other Spanish paella rice
- 1/3 cup (3 fl. oz./80 ml) Pernod
- 1/4 tsp. crumbled saffron, soaked in 1 Tbs. fresh lemon juice
- 1 Tbs. chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
- 1 cup (5 oz./155 g) sliced piquillo peppers or roasted red bell peppers
- 1 Tbs. chopped fresh tarragon
- Lemon wedges for serving
Have ready a large bowl filled with ice water. Bring a large pot three-fourths full of water to a boil over high heat and add 1 Tbs. salt. Add the lobsters one at a time, headfirst. Cover and cook until the lobsters are red, about 7 minutes. Transfer the lobsters to the ice water and let cool completely. Reserve 4 cups (32 fl. oz./1 l) of the cooking liquid.
Separate the claws and tail from the bodies, reserving the bodies to make stock, if desired (see note above). Remove the meat from the knuckles, tails and claws. (You can leave the meat inside the claws, if you like, and use them to garnish the finished dish.) Keep the knuckle meat whole and cut the tail meat in half lengthwise. Transfer the lobster to a covered container and refrigerate immediately. The lobster can be refrigerated up to overnight.
In a large paella pan or a large sauté pan over medium-high heat, warm the olive oil. Add the onion and garlic and cook, stirring occasionally, until tender and translucent, 3 to 4 minutes. Add the fennel and cook, stirring occasionally, until tender, 3 to 4 minutes.
Stir in the rice, the reserved cooking liquid, the Pernod, saffron mixture and piquillo peppers. Season well with salt and pepper. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to low, cover and cook until the rice has absorbed nearly all of the liquid, about 20 minutes.
Remove the pan from the heat. Nestle the lobster meat (and the whole claws, if using) in the rice, cover and let stand until the lobster is hot, 4 to 5 minutes. Sprinkle the paella with the parsley and tarragon and serve immediately with lemon wedges alongside. Serves 6.
Williams-Sonoma Test Kitchen