Serves 4 to 6
- 1/4 teaspoon saffron threads
- 6 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 small onion, finely chopped
- 2 large shallots, finely chopped
- 1 1/2 cups Arborio or Carnaroli rice
- 1/2 cup dry white wine
- 2 garlic cloves, crushed and peeled
- 12 littleneck clams, shucked, shucking juices reserved and strained, clams coarsely chopped
- 1 pound large shrimp, peeled, deveined, and cut into chunks
- 8 ounces sea scallops, halved through the middle if large
- 2 tablespoons Cognac or other dry brandy
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt, plus more to taste
- Freshly ground black pepper
- 1/4 cup chopped fresh Italian parsley
In a medium saucepan, bring 6 cups water to a bare simmer. Soak the saffron threads in 1/2 cup of the hot water.
In a large straight-sided skillet over medium heat, heat 3 tablespoons of the olive oil. When the oil is hot, add the onion and shallots and cook, stirring occasionally, until golden, about 4 minutes.
Add the rice, and stir to coat in the oil. Toast the rice, without coloring it, for 3 minutes. Increase the heat to medium high, add the wine, and cook until the wine is reduced away to a glaze, about 2 minutes. Add 1 cup of the hot water and the saffron and its soaking water, and adjust the heat so the liquid is simmering. Gradually add more water as each addition has been absorbed, stirring all the while, until the rice is still al dente, about 12 to 13 minutes. (You may not use all of the water.)
Heat a second large skillet over medium-high heat. Add 2 tablespoons of the olive oil. When the oil is hot, add the crushed garlic and cook until golden, about 2 minutes. Add the clams, shrimp, and sea scallops, and cook, tossing, until shellfish just turns opaque. Add the reserved shucking juices, and bring to a boil; pour the mixture directly into the rice (which should still be al dente). Add the brandy, and stir in the remaining tablespoon olive oil. Season with the salt and pepper. Taste- the clam liquor may be salty- and season more if necessary. Cook everything together for 2 to 3 more minutes, adding more hot water if necessary, until the rice and seafood are both cooked. Stir in the parsley, remove garlic, and serve.