Cooking with a big paella pan on a gas stovetop
I have a big paella pan that I brought back from Spain that I love using. The problem is getting even heat distribution on my gas stovetop. I basically spend the 20 minutes of cooking time moving it back and forth, left and right, so the rice doesn't burn in four areas directly above the 4 flames, leaving the rest of the rice raw and uncooked.
Another wrinkle- I can't bake it because the oven is a typical Manhattan-apartment-sized standard small oven. Read: the pan won't fit.
Does anybody have any ideas of how to evenly distribute the heat on the stove so I can have perfect, hot, even cooking under my paella pan? i.e. buy a huge stone slate (like a pizza stone) to put over the burners to make one big flat heated surface. I'm not sure that would even heat enough to heat the pan and boil the liquid inside.
Ideas are welcome. Thanks in advance!
Regardless of what you use to evenly distribute the heat, it'll require careful adjustment of the burners - running some lower than the others. A stone won't work. However, if you got a local shop to cut a piece of sheet steel you could use that as a primary surface and place the paella pan on top of it after it reaches the temperature you're looking for. Heating the steel plate evenly will require some practice but it be easier to control than if you used the same method with only the paella pan over the burner.
Caveat - A hot steel plate (or even a paella pan) spanning your burners exposes the porcelain or other surfaces between burners on many ranges to more heat than they're designed to handle so you may risk damaging those surfaces using that technique.
Seems it might be easier to either use an open charcoal heat source outside or buy a smaller paella pan.
I tried various things to make paella. First I tried various heat spreaders and those were a total failure. They suck up too much heat. Then I used two burners while rotating the pan. That worked but ended up being 25 minutes of rotating chore. Finally I found the answer: a wok ring. I bought a cheap "all aluminum" wok ring on amazon and put that on top of my biggest burner and the paella pan on top of that and it's amazingly good. The extra height allows for a more even heat distribution on top of my sealed burners. The only thing I have to do is make sure any water I add is close to boiling so it doesn't cool the paella down.