Curtis Stone’s Seafood Christmas

Try an Aussie-inspired twist for your holiday gathering.

A bowl of shellfish, lemon, shrimp, and rice.

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In Australia, seafood takes center stage during Christmas. Sharing Aussie traditions with my American friends and family reminds me of home, where Christmas falls in the middle of summer. I start a holiday meal by passing around a plate of oysters, but why not extend the lighter fare into the main course?

Surprise holiday guests by serving Seafood Paella — a big beautiful pan of saffron-infused rice, topped with assorted seafood — that makes an impressive entrance from the oven to the table. Who doesn’t love that?

Though it might seem intimidating at first, paella is actually fairly simple to prepare, and since it’s a one-pot meal, clean-up is much easier. And seeing as it goes into the oven 35 minutes before serving, there is nothing for you to do except enjoy your company. I serve paella in the pan it was prepared in and make it the centerpiece of the table, encouraging everyone to dig in and serve themselves. A nice, simple green salad is a great side for paella. And don’t forget the sangria!

Another option for holiday entertaining is Shellfish with White Wine, Lemon, and Parsley that you can virtually make in the time it takes to set the table. Don’t worry too much about what kind of seafood to use — it’s delicious with whatever you can get your hands on. I like to serve this dish individually with a side of crusty bread.

Keep entertaining stress-free by planning ahead, prepping in advance, and enjoying a nice glass of wine while you cook. Happy Holidays!

Seafood Paella

A pan filled with rice, shellfish, scallops, and tomatoes
(Quentin Bacon)

(Makes 6 servings)

  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 3 shallots, finely chopped
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 3 sprigs fresh thyme
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 2 pinches saffron
  • 2 cups long-grain white rice
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 4 cups low-sodium chicken broth, warmed
  • 1 tomato, seeded, diced
  • 6 mussels, scrubbed and debearded
  • 6 Manila or littleneck clams, scrubbed
  • 6 colossal shrimp, halved lengthwise and deveined (with shells left intact)
  • 6 sea scallops
  • 1 tablespoon coarsely chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 lemon, halved

Preheat oven to 425°F. Heat olive oil in 12-inch paella pan or ovenproof skillet over medium heat. Add shallots and sauté 2 minutes. Add garlic, thyme sprigs, and bay leaves and sauté 1 minute, or until shallots are tender and translucent. Sprinkle saffron over shallot mixture and sauté 1 minute. Add rice and stir 2 minutes, or until pan is quite dry and rice is coated with oil. Stir in wine and salt, then chicken broth. Stir rice to distribute it evenly in pan. Bring to simmer over high heat, then remove pan from heat. Sprinkle tomato over rice mixture.

Carefully transfer pan to oven and bake the paella uncovered for about 20 minutes, or until rice is almost tender. Nestle mussels, clams, shrimp, and scallops into paella and continue baking for 15 minutes, or until rice is tender and seafood is just cooked (discard any mussels and clams that do not open). Sprinkle with chopped parsley and drizzle with extra-virgin olive oil. Squeeze lemon juice over paella and serve.

Per serving

  • Calories: 421
  • Total Fat: 13 g
  • Saturated Fat: 2 g
  • Sodium: 565 mg
  • Carbohydrate: 56 g
  • Fiber: 1 g
  • Protein: 14 g
  • Diabetic Exchanges: 3 starch, 1.5 lean meat, 0.5 vegetable, 2.5 fat

Shellfish with White Wine, Lemon, and Parsley

(Makes 4 servings)

  • About 8 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 shallots, finely diced
  • 4 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 2 sprigs fresh thyme
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 2 lobster tails, split lengthwise
  • 8 ounces colossal shrimp in the shells
  • 1 pound fresh small clams, scrubbed
  • 1 pound fresh mussels, scrubbed and debearded
  • ½ cup dry white wine
  • 3 tablespoons coarsely chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
  • 1 ½ tablespoons extra-fine capers
  • Juice and zest of 1 lemon
  • Country-style crusty bread

Heat 2 tablespoons of oil in large heavy sauté pan over medium heat. Add shallots and sauté for 30 seconds. Stir in garlic, thyme, and bay leaves. Add lobster and shrimp, toss gently to coat, and cook for 2 minutes. Add clams and cook for about 2 minutes. Add mussels and cook for about 5 minutes, or until mussels and clams begin to open.

Pour in wine and immediately cover with lid and cook for 1½ minutes, or until clams and mussels open completely. Add parsley, capers, lemon juice, and lemon zest, and toss to combine. Remove from heat and stir in remaining extra-virgin olive oil to taste. Season with salt and black pepper.

Divide seafood mixture among 4 serving bowls. Serve with crusty bread.

Per serving

  • Calories: 704
  • Total Fat:  35 g
  • Saturated Fat: 5 g
  • Sodium: 1,990 mg
  • Carbohydrate: 18 g
  • Fiber: 1 g
  • Protein: 70 g
  • Diabetic Exchanges: 5 lean meat, 6 fat

Curtis Stone is the chef/owner of Maude and Gwen restaurants in Los Angeles. Curtis shares another great seafood recipe, Halibut and Spinach with Orange–Pine Nut Vinaigrette, at saturdayeveningpost.com/stonehalibut.

This article is featured in the November/December 2019 issue of The Saturday Evening Post. Subscribe to the magazine for more art, inspiring stories, fiction, humor, and features from our archives.

Featured image: photo by Quentin Bacon

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