Paella for 12 - 14?
- Seattle Rose
I need some advice on preparing paella for 12 - 14 people. I have made it many times for 2, 4, or 6, but never for this many. Are there any words of wisdom to help me do this? I'll appreciate any comments with thanks.
I made Paella for the 1st time this Sunday, I cut down a recipe for 10-12 by about 1/4. My recipe said to use a paella pan or two 12" skillets. I had a large Le Cruset buffet casserole which I felt everything would fit in. It did fit, but but the rice did not cook in the amount of time given in the recipe (nor twice that time). I beleive that I had the ingredients too deep. Next time I will take advice and use two pans.
Get a big pan? Just kidding.
I like to serve grilled chicken on the side. That frees up a lot of space in the paella pan for rice, chorizo and seafood.
Another 'hound wrote in that he uses scallops, squid, shrimp and fish, leaving out the mussels and clams that, again, take up a lot of space.
A loaf of good bread and a platter of grilled vegetables with herb dressing round out the meal.
And don't forget the Sangria. There were a few posts back in June that were very helpful.
I have an 18 inch pan, and it handles 8-10 comfortably. I omit the clams and mussels to save space (sometimes put in shelled clams). You WILL need a large paella pan for 14 people...or use two smaller pans. My pan will hold 2 cups rice, and proportionate liquid...but it gets pretty full. I have found, however, that if you have other food (tapas, for example) you can serve smaller portions and get by. One method would be to saute extra chicken, sausage, fish, etc to supplement the paella from the pan.
Mmmmm, paella. I consider myself an authority on its preparation. (So youre in luck!) Do you have an authentic paellera? If not, I suggest purchasing one. Its especially handy for making large amounts of paella because its geometry distributes heat evenly, which helps swell the rice and cook the shellfish uniformly. It also brings out the colors of the dish, which adds power to its presentation. I think I love paella so much because it allows you to pile on such a wide variety ingredients. Just dont forget the core essentials: chicken, chorizo, mussels, langoustines and peas. And you should substitute safflower for saffron when making a large amount. Its cheaper and almost impossible to tell the difference.
Mmmm, safflower. Delicious when mixed with hemlock. 12-14 sounds like quite the fiesta. If only I were in town, I'd bring a delicious flan for desert. I find that when cooking paella for a large group it's helpful to use a calculator for measuring the ingredients. If you're recipe is for one serving, then you need to multiply each measure of ingredient by twelve. For example, if your recipe calls for 3 mussels, then you punch in twelve times three and get forty-eight mussels. Also, feel free to use canned clams and clam juice to save time and money. Only a true Sicilian will know the difference.
We're doing paella for 70 this weekend (2 30" pans -- over a wood fire)...Wanna trade places? As long as you have a big enough pan, doing a big (or even huge) paella is no different than doing a small one -- just that the prep takes longer.
We're purists & don't believe in serving anything but bread and salad (AND SANGRIA) with the paella (tapas for starters). Paella is the original one-dish meal, and Valencian tradition even allows that everyone sits around the pan and eats their own little section right from the pan.
As for cooking anything on the side -- the chicken or seafood -- heaven forbid. The paella is all about the merging of all the wonderful flavors in the pan. And don't let anyone talk you into using canned clams or bottled clam juice!
FWIW, my father-in-law (the Valencian) allows for each serving, as a rule of thumb: 1/3 c. rice, 2/3 c. cooking liquid, 2 oz. chicken, 4 lg. shrimp, 3 good-sized mussels, 2 clams, plus whatever vegetables.
re: GG Mora
Thanks, GG Mora, for the good information and encouragement. I guess compared with Paella for 70, 12 -14 servings doesn't sound too large! I appreciate you including your father-in-law's proportions. That is very helpful. I also am somewhat of a purist where paella is concerned, including sangria -- homemade, not that too-sweet stuff! I will have to get a larger paellera, however!