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Paella Pan

majordanby Aug 8, 2011 10:46 AM

A few questions about making paella-

How important is using a paella pan in making a solid paella?
Can I get by without using a paella pan? If so, what are some alternatives?
If not, any recs on a good paella pan? Not looking to serve a big party - at most 4-10 people.

thanks in advance!

  1. e
    emu48 Jul 12, 2012 06:38 AM

    If you get a paella pan, one way to heat the entire bottom is on a backyard barbecue grill. I've had friends who were paella enthusiasts, and they had a fire pit with iron tripod built out back. Made great rices. Some may find paella pans awkward because they have low sides, and spills are easy in the early stages of the preparation.

    1. TraderJoe May 28, 2012 03:31 AM

      "How important is using a paella pan in making a solid paella?"

      Very important. Some will suggest you can make Paella in just about any pan but more often than not you end up with a rice dish that sort of resembles Paella. It may be tasty and a fine first step but with out the soccarat you just can't have a "solid" paella.
      Paella pans should be thin and since most Paella pans are made from tin they are inexpensive. Dare I even say down right cheap compared to most cook ware?
      10 people is going to require a very large Paella pan or two 14-16" pans.
      Tin Paella pans do take on some seasoning after use. The first few uses make sure you oil and wipe them down after washing.
      Here's a couple of links you may find useful for Paella pans.

      http://www.tienda.com/

      http://www.paellapans.com/

      http://www.spanishtable.com/

      3 Replies
      1. re: TraderJoe
        paulj May 28, 2012 09:22 AM

        They are not tin.

        1. re: paulj
          TraderJoe May 28, 2012 10:22 AM

          <Paella pans should be thin and since most Paella pans are made from tin they are inexpensive>

          My bad. I meant to say since most are made as thin as tin they tend to be inexpensive. I was of course referring to the carbon steel pans.

          1. re: TraderJoe
            paulj May 28, 2012 11:42 AM

            But a wide pan (thin carbon steel or not) needs a matching heat source. Most home cooks have to improvise, unless they give The Spanish Table more business and buy a multiring gas burner. Even a 12" stretches the limits of my heat sources.

            oops, I'm repeating myself
            http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/8005...

      2. b
        brooktroutchaser May 27, 2012 07:47 AM

        I've made paella many times using a 12 inch AC skillet on a smooth top stove, with time in the oven. Works fine. However, I recently acquired a 13.5 inch paella pan from William-Sonoma. I can now make the meal on my 18.5 inch Weber charcoal grill. Frankly, it is so much fun to make this on the grill, and the cost of the pan so modest, I wish I'd purchased the pan sooner.

        The biggest challenge is getting the charcoal grill level. Oh, and if you're going to do this, use only hardwood charcoal.

        1 Reply
        1. re: brooktroutchaser
          b
          brooktroutchaser Jul 12, 2012 05:57 AM

          The 13.5 inch pan retails for twenty bucks.

        2. a
          amazinc Aug 11, 2011 11:37 AM

          OOps, sorry that's The Spanish Table. My typing and editing skills are lousy.

          1. a
            amazinc Aug 11, 2011 11:36 AM

            Two sources for cheap paella pans ( and yes, you do need one to make a good paella) La Tienda and The Spanich Table. Both have sites from which to order and both have 800 numbers to call. Don't know where you live, but Melssa Guerra's store in the Pearl Complex
            in San Antonio, TX, stocks all sizes from "for 2" to a huge mother that would serve 20 eaters!. I have the best luck cooking paella on my charcoal grill to get the bottom wonderfully crusty (the best part). It will work in an oven, but it's hard to get that crust and still have the rest of the dish creamy .Bite the bullet, order a pan, treat it well and you'll have many years of one of the best dishes on the planet.

            2 Replies
            1. re: amazinc
              e
              escondido123 Aug 11, 2011 12:04 PM

              Having worked in a kitchen store for a number of years, I have seen people buy all sorts of equipment for dishes they make once and find out they don't like ir is too much trouble. If you are sure you like paella and will be making it foten, then go for the paella pan. If not, and you have a good size pan with that could handle the ingredients and you're willing to have a final product that may not be "perfect" then go for that. In my opinion, the last thing any of us needs is to spend money on things that just end up cluttering the cabinets. Good luck.

              1. re: escondido123
                Bada Bing Aug 11, 2011 12:42 PM

                I second this and will repeat my suggestion that, if you have it, you should be able to use an oval Graniteware turkey roaster (without the lid) or really any sturdy roasting pan on an open grill. You'll need to watch the heat level, of course, to avoid scorching the bottom, but that's the nature of grilling.

                It's true that a pan with higher sides might affect the evaporation to some degree, but I can't see it being an insurmountable issue.

            2. majordanby Aug 10, 2011 06:24 PM

              thanks everyone for the info - definitely helps me in my decision!

              and no wood fire for me, at least for the moment. the grill suggestion sounds like a great idea!

              1. paulj Aug 8, 2011 01:30 PM

                One thing that distinguishes paella from other Spanish rice dishes is the depth of the rice. The rice layer is supposed to be quite thin (1/2"). Pans are sized by diameter and ideal number of servings. I believe 12" = 4 servings. So any pan of the right area will work. The main advantage of a paella pan is that it comes in a wide range of diameters - without costing in an arm and a leg, since most common construction is inexpensive carbon steel. But for a home cook, evenly heating a large diameter pan is difficult.

                I have 2 12" enamel pans that I got at Costplus at clearance prices. I used both of them once for a dinner party, starting the dish on the stove top, and finishing in the oven. But more often I've used these pans as serving platters.

                Another option is to explore other Spanish rice dishes.

                1 Reply
                1. re: paulj
                  Bada Bing Aug 8, 2011 04:45 PM

                  I agree with paulj here. The difference between cooking for 4 and 10 is exactly the mathematical difference: the higher number is 250% of the lower. Very different pan sizes. A 12" skillet would be perfect for serving 2 or 3 persons at our house (we're pigs).

                  For larger sizes, I have used larger pans on a charcoal grill, because it's easier to spread the heat widely. An open fire with aromatic twigs is actually the traditional method.

                  Paella fans often covet a crusty effect on the bottom of the rice (sacorrat?), and a wide thin layer of rice helps to maximize that. If you're not so concerned, paella can be made in any pan when simply understood as a rice dish cooked with the top off and little or no stirring. Variations are endless. Good to use Valencia or Bomba rice for the right texture.

                  It occurs to me that you could make a very good large paella in one of those oval graniteware turkey roasters set over a grill. Not sure why I never thought of that before!

                2. e
                  escondido123 Aug 8, 2011 11:22 AM

                  In my opinion, unless you are planning on making paella often, you can get by with a very large skillet. Of course, if you're going to do it over wood fire you will need a pan that can take that.

                  1. w
                    wattacetti Aug 8, 2011 11:04 AM

                    How often do you want to make paella? Do you make it in the traditional manner over a wood fire?

                    I have seen paella being made in a very large French skillet and in a dutch oven - pretty close.

                    There is a website that specializes in paella whose name escapes me at the moment. From what I recall, paellas were inexpensive unless you strayed way from carbon steel or you went for the really large sizes.

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