Prep the seafood if needed - scrub the mussels and clams, debeard mussels & devein the shrimp or prawns if they aren’t already. Place the mussels and clams in a large bowl of cold water to soak as you prep the rest of the ingredients.
Start your campfire - you will be cooking over the flames at high heat, so no need to burn the wood down to embers. Place your cast iron on the grill to preheat. Optional step: Skewer the cherry tomatoes and place on the grill over the fire to roast. This helps to add a nice smokey flavor to the paella and it draws out some of the sweetness of the tomatoes.
Measure 1 ½ cups broth into a cup or small bowl. Add the saffron to the broth and stir. Set aside. Dice the onion & mince the garlic.
Once your fire is going and the skillet is hot, add olive oil followed by the diced onion, salt, and red pepper flakes. Saute for about 2 minutes, until the onion is just beginning to soften.
Add the rice and the minced garlic to the skillet. Toast the rice, stirring frequently, 2-3 minutes or until it begins to turn golden (but not browned). Add the wine and stir until absorbed by the rice, about 3 minutes.
Add the paprika, stirring briefly to coat the rice and then add the broth with the saffron and the roasted tomatoes. Give it a big stir to distribute all of the ingredients and then let it be. After 15 minutes, add the mussels, clams, and shrimp. Cook for roughly 15 minutes more. The paella is done once the rice is tender, all of the liquid has been absorbed, and you hear the rice start “crackling” - an indicator that the paella is forming socarrat - the wonderfully crunchy, brown crust that paella is known for.
Remove from the heat, garnish with parsley, and enjoy with a glass of the remaining wine!
Saffron can be pricey, but it does add to the distinct flavor of paella. Trader Joe’s has the best price we have found so far ($5.99 for a small jar, which we can make 3 paellas from).
It’s good to keep in mind that campfires are not consistent heat sources the way that kitchen stoves are, so cook times can change based on variables such as how hot your fire is or how close the grill grate is to the flame. We’ve given times based on our experience, but they should be taken as guidelines only. We’ve added some visual indicators to help you adapt based on your particular fire.
If you enjoyed this recipe, we would love it if you'd come back and leave a rating! You can find the recipe here: https://www.freshoffthegrid.com/seafood-campfire-paella/