Provincetown Paella

Provincetown Paella
With reports of a wide variety of fish caught and shellfish harvested this time of year, we wanted to provide an installment of our weekly recipes that utilizes a wide array of species.

This recipe is based on Howard Mitcham’s recipe in his classic Provincetown Seafood Cookbook. Ingredients are listed as Mitcham presented along with Pop’s own instructions for putting them all together.

Don’t be put off by the number of ingredients, all are readily available. You do not have to have every variety of seafood listed, but the more the merrier. Scallops could be added or used as a substitute for the lobster; cod or striped bass could be used instead of haddock. You could, in fact, make this dish without any seafood, using chicken stock, and have a fine arroz con pollo (rice and chicken casserole), but you would not have paella. The former is a good dish, the latter is splendid! Go for it, you will not be sorry!

By Dave “Pops” Masch

Pops Paella Pan Sketch

Ingredients: (feeds 10)
2 doz. littleneck quahogs (in their shells)
2 doz. mussels (in their shells)
(2) 2-pound live lobsters
1/2 doz. squid
1 lb. haddock fillet
1 lb. shrimp
1/2 lb. smoked ham, cut in strips
(1) 3-pound frying chicken, cut into 10 pieces
1/2 chourico sausage (Spanish) or chourico or linguica
1 ½ cups olive oil
6 cloves garlic
3 medium onions, chopped
(1) 16-oz. can plum tomatoes
(1) 8-oz. can tomato sauce
1 green pepper, chopped
1 pkg. frozen defrosted peas (I like the tiny ones)
1 small jar pimientos, cut in strips
1/2 tsp. Tabasco
1 cup fresh mushrooms, sliced
2 lbs. (4 cups) rice (Uncle Ben’s for me)
Fish stock
Salt and pepper, to taste

Fish Stock Ingredients:
4 lbs. fish heads, bones, racks, tails, trimmings
4 quarts water
4 cloves garlic, minced
3 onions, chopped
1 cup parsley, chopped
1 lemon, sliced
1/2 tsp. cumin powder
1 pint dry white wine
1/2 tsp. powdered saffron or 1 tsp. stringy saffron
(if you have no saffron, use 1 TBS turmeric for color)
1/2 tsp. each basil and thyme
4 tsps. salt
1/2 tsp. pepper

Don’t be afraid, you are on your way to renown. I will present Mitcham’s directions and my variations. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Put all the stock ingredients in a large pot, and bring to a boil, simmer with liquid bubbling for a 1/2 hour. You will cook the crustaceans and shellfish in the stock, adding their glorious flavors. Drop lobsters in, raise heat, and cook for 20 minutes; scrub the clams and mussels, put them in a cheesecloth bag, and cook in stock for about 10 minutes or until they are open. I use a stainless colander, suspending the shellfish in the stock until they open. Put shrimp in a cheesecloth bag, and cook for 5 minutes. I add them to my colander of shellfish for the last 5 minutes of cooking. I sometimes skip the colander and bags altogether and throw the shellfish and crustaceans in the liquid and pick them out after straining the stock through a colander at the end of the 30 minutes. Taste the strained stock, and add more salt and pepper if desired.

Take the lobsters and break off their tails, claws and knuckles (the best bits to me). Crack the claws and knuckles with a hammer or nutcracker, cut the tails in 3/4-inch sections with a heavy knife or cleaver, and set aside. Open lobster bodies, and scrape out white fat, tomalley (the icky green stuff) and roe, if you’re lucky; put in a bowl, cream with the back of a spoon (mush it up), and stir into the stock. Discard lobster bodies (my wife always saves them and picks out the bits of meat therein).

Clean and dice the squid bodies, cut off the tentacles just in front of the eyes and keep them whole.

Cut the chicken up into 10 pieces. Heat 1/2 cup olive oil in a large frying pan, and fry for about 15 minutes, turning once or twice. Mitcham says to remove the chicken and then sauté the ham, sausage slices and squid meat. I add the whole works about 5 minutes before the chicken is done and sauté until it all begins to brown, stirring frequently. Set the whole works aside with the shellfish and crustaceans.

We’re getting there, by now your cooking area will be a mess and your kitchen will smell heavenly, and soon will smell even better.

Now to make sofrito, the base of many Puerto Rican dishes and a flavorful addition. Heat 1/2 cup olive oil in a skillet, in it sauté the onions, garlic and green pepper until soft and transparent, add the parsley. Add the tomatoes squeezed through your fingers to break them up, the tomato sauce, mushrooms, pimientos, Tabasco sauce and lemon slices. Mitcham puts the peas in at this point, I do not. I put them in at the very end to preserve their color and glorify the presentation. Mix this well, and cook over low heat for 20 minutes. If it seems too dry, add some stock.

Now add and heat the final 1/2 cup of olive oil in a skillet (I use the large casserole I will finish the dish in). Stir the rice in the oil until it begins to turn golden yellow.

Now mix everything but the stock gently into the rice so things remain identifiable, also add the fish fillets which you have cut into 1-inch cubes. Now Mitcham says to pour in enough stock to just cover everything; I cover mine by about 1/4 inch. Bring to a boil, cover, and bake for 20 minutes, uncover, add the peas, and bake for 10 minutes more – and Bob’s your uncle! You have created a marvel! I like to serve this with a tomato and basil salad, both red and chilled white wine, beer, corn on the cob, and hot sauce on the side.

Other Great On the Water Recipes

Cooking The Catch 1 and 2Cooking The Catch 1 & 2 Combo
Get both of these well-written and resourceful cookbooks for one reduced price. Hundreds of great recipes for local seafood.

1 thought on “Provincetown Paella

  1. Chris David

    My partner and I both agreed this was one of the tastiest dishes I have ever cooked and I have cooked a lot of stuff. Thank you and please visit us\

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