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paella: wetness/dryness

jayes Oct 17, 2007 08:42 AM

We've made paella a couple of times in the past two months and the flavour turns out excellent.

For me, though, there's a little problem with the "wetness" of the paella: that is, there seems to be a lot of "sauce" in the finished product and the individual grains of rice are not really "dry." The texture is goopy.

What's your ideal paella and how do I get all the liquid to disappear to have a drier product?

Thanks in advance.

  1. c
    Cheesy Oysters Oct 17, 2007 02:52 PM

    Sometimes if my paella seems a little too wet, I'll finish it off in the oven a bit. I prefer not to do so but it works.

    2 Replies
    1. re: Cheesy Oysters
      JoanN Oct 17, 2007 03:00 PM

      Why do you prefer not to finish a paella in the oven? I make Penelope Casas's Paella al la Valenciana and her instructions are to bake the essentially finished paella in a 325-degree oven, uncovered, for 20 minutes and then let it sit, lightly covered, on top of the stove for another 10 minutes. It's always worked spectacularly well for me.

      1. re: JoanN
        Cheesy Oysters Oct 17, 2007 03:29 PM

        Well I have just found that when I do make it on the stove and the rice comes out with the right consistency, I like the flavor better overall. The shrimp also don't tend to get over done. But if I do need to finish it up in the oven, it can still taste really good. I guess I feel like the I timed the dish right if I don't need to put it in the oven. The recipe that I use also doesn't cal for finishing it up in the oven.

    2. h
      heWho Oct 17, 2007 02:38 PM

      Most importantly, what kind of rice are you using? Rice, the pan and the heat are the 3 essential components when making a paella. Getting paella rice to come out with proper dryness and a crunchy bottom is a serious challenge.

      1. paulj Oct 17, 2007 11:03 AM

        A wet rice dish may not be the ideal paella, but it is not necessarily a failure. The Spanish do cook 'wet' rices, they just don't call them paella.
        This link may not help if you can't read Spanish, but it gives recipes for both 'arroces' and 'paellas'


        1 Reply
        1. re: paulj
          jayes Oct 17, 2007 01:39 PM

          Thanks for the link, paulj. I never knew there was a difference.

          RE the cooking: Yesterday's "paella" was cooked in a roaster, fairly shallow (I would guesstimate 3-4 inches), uncovered.

        2. c
          cheesemonger Oct 17, 2007 09:45 AM

          Tell us a little more about the technique that you are using to make the rice part- that may be where the problem lies.

          I'l quickly tell you what I do, and see if that helps- I make my paella in stages, then assemble. I use a large cast iron skillet. I first sear the skin side of the chicken thinghs, and remove- then add olive oil, saute sausage, onion and peppers, then add the seasonings and then the rice- I do this "risotto" style- by sauteeing the rice and adding first a cup of wine 'til absorbed, then cups of hot chicken stock as those are absorbed. I leave it a little wetter than I would a risotto because it will evaporate and get further absorbed during cooking, add some frozen peas, squish the thighs down into the rice (skin up) and place in the oven at 350 for about 30 minutes. When about 5-10 minutes to service, I squish shrimp, mussels, clams, whatever else I want to add, and cook the rest to the way. I test it here also to make sure it's not to dry, and drizzle a little chicken stock over the lot if it is. I like for it to form a "crust" on the bottom... I also let it all rest about 5 minutes before serving.

          Does that help? I know it's a bit abbreviated, but I was thinking technique, not proportions.

          3 Replies
          1. re: cheesemonger
            jayes Oct 17, 2007 12:50 PM


            Here's what I did.

            Sear chicken thighs. Take out.
            Add olive oil.
            Saute onions, chorizo.
            Saute rice.
            Add tomatoes (usually canned tomatoes).
            Add seasonings.
            Add liquid.
            Add chicken thighs.

            When I add the liquid, liquid doesn't evaporate completely. Rice gets cooked, but the result is wetter than I would like.

            Add shellfish/shrimp/etc.

            (1) Does putting it in the oven help with the evaporation of liquid?
            (2) What is the proper proportion for liquid to rice? Is it still 2 to 1?

            1. re: jayes
              paulj Oct 17, 2007 12:57 PM

              I don't have proper pan to try this myself, but various recipes make a big deal about the depth of the rice in the pan (something like 1/2'). So you base the number of servings, the amount of rice, and the amount of liquid on the diameter of the pan.

              Also are you cooking with or without a cover? I've seen some recipes that call for cooking it uncovered, and then finishing with a foil cover in the oven.


              1. re: jayes
                cheesemonger Oct 17, 2007 02:29 PM

                Re: Proportion- you are throwing off that equation with the canned tomatoes, methinks. And proportion depends on the type of rice. Also, adding seasoning during saute helps open them up a bit more.

                So, my suggestion would be to add the tomatoes, stir and let tomato juice get absorbed, then add the stock/water a cup at a time, stir 'til absorbed, until it looks right- add an additional half cup or so, then add the chicken, pop into the oven. The oven does increase evaporation- and ditto Paul- are you cooking covered or uncovered? I always do uncovered.

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