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"Make-ahead" paella?

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My husband and I are throwing a Spanish dinner party this weekend and we will be starting with some hot and cold tapas first.

We're only making a few hot tapas and they are pretty easy to prepare and cook quickly (Champiñones al ajillo, Gambas al Ajillo, Pimientos de Padrón) so it shouldn't be a problem cooking those after the guests get there. However, I also want to make a paella as the main course, but do not want to be stuck cooking while everyone is having tapas.

Will paella still be ok if I let it sit in a warm oven for about an hour or will it dry out? Is there anyway to do most of the cooking for the paella and only do minimum cooking at the end?

Thanks,
Arlene

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  1. One of the the things I like best about my go-to recipe for Paella (Penelope Casas' Paella a la Valenciana; I'll link below) is that most of it can be done ahead of time - browning the meat, cooking the vegetables and seafood, combining the stock with seasonings, etc. Before guests come, I add the rice to the pan, cover everything up, and clean up.

    Then about 40 minutes before serving, all you have to do is pour the stock mixture into the rice, bring to a boil, cook for a few minutes, add meat and seafood, and put it in the oven. Pics with details and recipe report here (also a lot of other great ideas for Spanish dishes, and other paella reports):

    JUNE Cookbook of the Month: FOODS and WINES OF SPAIN, Penelope Casas
    http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/5245...

    Recipe link. #3 is the one I use, and steps 1-9 I do in advace.
    http://www.spanish-food-and-recipes.c...

    2 Replies
    1. re: Rubee

      Thanks for the tips Rubee! The recipe I usually use has less meats/seafood (just chicken, chorizo, shrimp, and mussels), but the general procedure is the same. I'll try your trick of doing everything before you boil the rice, I can probably start that procedure right before I cook the tapas so the paella will be done by the time we are done with them.

      1. re: arlenemae

        Best if you don't pre-cook the seafood unless you are using very large chunks of lobster or fish. Just put shrimp and mussels on top of the paella when the rice/stock comes to a boil. Should be just right when it comes out of the oven.