“This is one of the first recipes of Matt’s that I ever wrote down and one I know he shared widely. He visited me while I was living in a moth-infested, unfurnished ranch house in Daniel, Wyoming. Upon viewing my hovel, he decided we needed an immediate upgrade, so we loaded into my truck, stopped for a six pack of beer and a couple orders of jalapeno poppers for the road, and invaded Kathy’s house in Jackson.”  —Matt’s brother Luke

Here’s what Matt put together on her deck that afternoon:

Matt’s Burny-Burn Salsa

5 Roma tomatoes
1 red onion slice
1 whole hot jalapeno
Scorch the above on a hot grill—you’re not trying to cook this stuff, just want to get some black on it. Put in the blender.


juice from 3 limes
handful of cilantro

Blend in short bursts and sparingly.
This basic idea—scorch and blend has inspired numerous creations around our house. Throw mango, tomatillo, yellow tomatoes, fresh pineapple, pasilla peppers or whatever on the grill, then blend.

“This is the only recipe I have from Matt that he wrote up himself. The others I wrote down while we cooked together or I transcribed while we were on the phone. It was part of a Christmas gift that included a paella pan. I have left his spelling and punctuation intact.”   —Matt’s brother Luke

Christmas Paella Recipe

The recipe is a rough guideline. It is important to use the same pan for the entire process. That will give the paella its flavor. Also, the higher the quality of ingredients used, the better it will be. Save some time by making friends who don’t mind picking out bones and shells.

What you will need:

Fish steaks, 1 4 oz. piece per person
1 bunch flat leaf parsley, finely chopped
1 head garlic finely chopped
1 green pepper finely diced
1 glass white wine
1 lb. clams, remove beards, discard the dead
1 lb. mussels, remove beards, discard the dead
1 lb. raw shrimp, if heads are on, 2 lbs.
1 lb. raw chorizo (the dry kind), if unavailable, use kielbasa or spicy Italian, sliced  1/4 “
3 large squid, insides removed and cut into rings
1 lb. chicken cut into chunks
1 teaspoon real saffron
Bomba or Arborio rice, 1 cup per person
Chicken stock or fish stock, 2 cups per person
salt and pepper and spicy smoked paprika optional


Wash clams and mussels by putting in a large bucket full of water, a cup of salt and 3 T of flour, not the fishtank, for about an hour. The clams will eat the flour and expel the sand caught in them.

Prepare all the ingredients, preheat oven to 400 degrees. Once this all starts, it moves pretty quickly so have everything ready and available.

Prepare your stock by toasting half the saffron until fragrant and add 1 part chicken stock, 1 part fish stock and 1 part water, bring it to a boil and keep it hot with a ladle in it so if something in the pan starts to burn, you can cool off the pan and scrape it into the mix. You’ll need a big bowl or pan to put everything in. Season chicken and shrimp in separate bowls with olive oil, salt, pepper, parsley and smoked paprika.

Place paella pan over fire or stove on medium high heat and get it hot, the olive oil will begin to smoke. Season fish filets with salt and pepper. Sear on each side, about a minute and remove to a plate.

In the hot pan add a large pinch of garlic and parsley, as soon as you smell them cooking add the glass of wine and the shellfish and stir with a wooden spoon until they open. Pour contents of pan into the bowl and scrape with the spoon. Add the liquid from cooking the clams to your stock. Add more olive oil and saute’ shrimp for a few minutes, transfer to bowl.

Add more oil and the remaining saffron, chicken and chorizo. Keep it moving until the chicken is almost cooked through. Then add squid and rice. Stir until rice is hot and coated with oil and all of the sticky things in your pan. There should be a pretty fair amount of gunk. Add stock and more salt. Stir it up just once and taste the stock. It should be rich and tasty. If not, add some more salt. Once the rice is cooking, don’t stir or it will become gummy. Cook for 18 minutes in the oven at 400 degrees. With 8 minutes remaining, put clams, mussels, fish and shrimp in the paella pan artfully.

Remove all and serve in the paella pan with all of the shellfish and fish piled on top.