Old Bay Shrimp Paella with Charred Corn + Bacon

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We had grandiose plans of heading to the beach last weekend, but when we woke up to grey skies and muggy air we decided to stay home. We haven't actually had a weekend with no plans in months, and it was absolutely glorious. In an effort to try to have an easy going day, we weren't going to work on a recipe, but then we started talking about shrimp. 

After going back and forth about whether to do a shrimp boil, or make jambalaya, or paella... we came up with this shrimp and bacon filled skillet of goodness. We were excited to try our hand at a mash up of traditional recipes, which I feel the need to emphasize... this is not traditional paella, but it is damn good. I had four helpings before I had to cut myself off. Although this isn't anything near traditional paella, I kept digging my spoon into "La Soccarat", the burned rice pieces that stick to the bottom of the pan. That was the "oh damn this is really good" moment we had while we were eating. Between the bacon, old bay, beer, and shrimp, there's a lot of flavor going on in this meal. It's one of the many reasons these one skillet meals are a favorite of mine. 


Old Bay Shrimp Paella with Charred Corn + Bacon
serves 4-6
1/2 lb large shrimp, peeled and deveined
1/3 lb thick cut bacon
2 cups short grain rice (arborio or paella)
2 ears of corn, cut into 3rds
4 cups chicken broth
1/4 cup lager beer
1 15oz can diced tomatoes with juice
3/4 cup cherry tomatoes, halved
1 cup frozen peas
1 red pepper
1 large onion, diced
4 cloves garlic, diced
1/4 cup watercress, roughly torn
2 tbs old bay seasoning
salt and pepper

Begin by halving and the red pepper, remove all seeds and dice one half of it. Cut the remaining half into strips and set aside. In a large cast iron skillet over low heat, add bacon and cook until fat has rendered and bacon is crispy, flipping often, about 7 minutes. Remove bacon and set aside.

Increase heat to medium and sauté onions, red pepper, and garlic in rendered bacon fat. Season with salt and pepper. Cook until onion becomes translucent, about 3 minutes. Add in rice and old bay seasoning. Cook the rice, stirring frequently until rice has toasted, about 2 minutes. Pour in beer and deglaze skillet, making sure to scrape up any rice that has gotten stuck to bottom of pan.

Add in canned tomatoes plus cherry tomatoes, and stir to combine. Cook until tomato rice mixture has lost all liquid. Pour 1 cup of broth into skillet and stir to combine. Cook until broth evaporates and continue adding liquid 1 cup at a time until all broth has been used - this should take about 20 minutes.

Meanwhile, over an open flame carefully char ears of corn until blackened and blistered. Set aside for serving. After all broth has cooked through, stir in bacon and peas. Top paella with shrimp and remaining red pepper strips, alternating around the skillet. Cover the skillet with a tight fitting lid and cook for about 4 minutes, until shrimp becomes opaque. Remove from heat and top with charred corn, and watercress. Serve warm.

*download the printable recipe here