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Sep 14, 2011 11:50 AM

Paella beginner - which recipe?

I’ve never made paella, but have watched a few of these below.

Have you made any of these recipes? If so, can you recommend any to try out, or disregard. Both positive and negative welcome.

Steven Raichlen – Vegetarians at the Grill - Paella

Chiarello – Paella Italiana & Paella Party

Daisy Cooks – Paella

Everyday Food (Giada) – Easy Paella

Made in Spain – Paella Day

Alton Brown – It’s Paella

Bobby Flay – Paella and Sausage

Bittman and Andre – both cook their own version

Bittman and Mario – both cook

Guys Big Bite – Chicken and seafood Paella

Take Home Chef – Seafood Paella

Florence Tyler – Paella

Tyler – food 911 – Exotic Paella

Tyler – Ultimate Paella

Throwdown with Bobby Flay – Paella

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  1. Well, it's really all about personal taste, isn't it? Whichever of those recipes look good and doable to you, you should try.

    Based on my personal experience, I would tend to avoid anything by or from Tyler Florence or Guy Fieri, and steer towards Mario, Bobby, Chiarello, maybe Alton or Daisy. When you say Bittman and Andre, if you mean Jose Andres, I'd certainly give that one a try.

    You don't provide links so it'd take quite a bit of time to try to Google each of those to evaluate, so those are just my guesses.

    10 Replies
    1. re: acgold7

      Acgold, I asked:

      "Have you made any of these recipes? If so, can you recommend any to try out, or disregard."

      No, I didn't provide links because I was just wondering if anyone had made any of these recipes; they should know if they did and were happy or unhappy with them.

      Yes, any number of these look doable. Just wondering if any one had tried any of them - they were all - I'm guessing of course - on foodnetwork, so it is possible that someone here might have tried one of them.

      I notice that Chiarello say: Italian paella.

      Yes, I appreciate your guesses and input. Many thanks, always. I like your posts.

      1. re: Rella

        Sorry, I wasn't criticizing and I actually was clear on your question. It's unlikely anyone has tried all of these recipes so they can't really compare them, although I'm sure some people may have tried one or two they like.

        Like many, I don't usually follow a specific recipe. Paella is more of a technique so I will generally read a bunch of recipes so I can become familiar with the theory, then customize to my preferences.

        Whichever you choose, it is a spectacular dish. American versions usually combine chicken, some form of sausage and some form of seafood, but we had a couple of Spanish exchange students and they said they usually don't do that back home. We didn't see much of that when we were in Spain last summer and we went Paella-crazy. But you should pick whatever ingredients you like.

        My recommendations were only based upon the credibility of the chefs as I know them, not any specific recipe. Frankly, as long as you stay far away from anything with Tyler or Fieri in the title, I think you can't go wrong.

        Good luck!

        1. re: acgold7

          Yes, it is the technique that I'm afraid of - there are so many advise-ments.
          It's scary unless one just digs in. I've done that before - dug in - and then dug out because it's just so foreign to me when someone says/writes, oh, it's the crust that's the "bees knees." etc. etc. This time I'm armed with a Raichlen ss paella pan; and if that fails, I have a pan that I believe will maybe be an alternative, a Le Creuset paella-type pan.

          It's probably going to be first a chicken and seafood paella. DH likes mussels/clams (I dislike them), so we will accommodate mussels/clams. I think sausage might be a little too heavy; but maybe use an good chicken breast. We both are not too fond of chicken thighs (even in Moroccan cuisine.)

          Yes, I want to make paella without trepidation, just do one on my own. I'll have to just do it.

          Old Unc: I have a few Penelope's recipes. thanks.

          1. re: Rella

            Don't worry about the crust. Don't worry about the equipment. Don't worry about the recipe. Splatgirl and Paul are right on. It's just technique. I would really advise against chicken breast unless you really enjoy dry chicken. They recommend dark meat for a reason but I guess if you don't like it you shouldn't use it.

            It's really just a simple chicken (or whatever) and rice dish. Nothing to be intimidated about. And you can even do it in the oven, no matter what they tell you. (Even in Spain we had more than one where the seafood on top was still kind of raw.) You could use a Teflon skillet, for that matter. I've also had them served to me in small covered cast iron pots, and when you lift the lid and see those little clams singing at you on that yellow rice and the scent comes wafting at you, you just want to pass out.

            I would also recommend the PBS Spain TV show that Splatgirl recommends below -- I think it is in fact the Bittman and Mario show you reference above.

            1. re: acgold7

              Yes, it is Bittman, Mario, both tolerable, plus the amazingly gorgeous Spanish actress Claudia Basoles, and the borderline intolerable Gwenyth Paltrow. Despite GP, it's still an absolutely fantastic series if you are interested in Spanish food. I swear you can almost smell the lavender and paprika scented Spanish air when you watch. Plus Claudia makes me want to make out with the TV, and I'm not even into chicks.

              Another thing I remember learning from that episode is to grind up the saffron threads with the salt in a mortar and pestle and to add way more Pimenton than you would think wise.

              Anyway, yes, all about technique. Don't get too hung up on the recipe or trying to add too many ingredients. Or choose the simplest of the recipes you listed. A meat or fish plus chorizo and a little bit of veg for color. I like fresh green beans and occasionally red pepper strips.

              1. re: splatgirl

                Thanks everyone for the encouragement.
                Have spanish rice (two or three kinds), saffron, have pimenton, have paprika, have seafood, have chicken and sausage, red peppers, everything.

                I can do it! (in a few days)
                But I'm a-scared.

                1. re: Rella

                  I was just reading in a book called La Paella (from the library) that while paella has a special place in Spanish cooking, a moister rice dish more common at home. It may even have many of the same ingredients, but is cooked in a deeper dish (even a earthenware caszuela). They even like a soupy 'caldoso' rice. The author also claims that paella is viewed as lunch dish, not dinner, most suitable to a weekend gathering of extended family and friends.

                  1. re: paulj

                    Most likely because lunch is the large main dish of the day in Spain. Dinner typically would be small, a sandwich, or an omelet perhaps.

                  2. re: Rella

                    Nothing to be scared of. Even if it doesn't come out the way you think it's "supposed" to, it will still be delicious.

        2. re: acgold7

          I am a crazy paella fan--I have the specialized burner and stand and a couple of pans including one that is big enough for three people to go sledding on together. The thing that I've found is most recipes WAY over complicate what is really a simple, 20 minute dish. I have not tried any of the recipes you listed specifically, but I can tell you what I've learned over the years...

          Skip trying to cook chicken or rabbit in the pan. Even my actual Spanish chef friend says this. If you want these ingredients in your finished dish, precook them in whatever way you find easiest and add them toward the end of cooking. Shrimp or other seafood is my default because it is fast and easy. I also like slices of spicy chorizo and feel this is the defining ingredient in addition to smoked pimenton ans saffron.
          When I really started getting an outstanding finished product was happy with was after I saw the paella episode of the PBS show "Spain, On The Road Again". There is no actual recipe given, but if you watch carefully you'll glean some important technique points. Mostly for me it was to use more oil. and to cook/toast the rice in the sofrito/oil before adding the stock--(I used to add the stock and then the rice). Probably 3x oil vs. what I would have used before. For me the result is AT LAST, the nice toasty bottom and no more gummy rice, ever.
          It's also important not to try to use too much rice. If you haven't already acquired one, get a bigger pan than you think you'll need for this reason. You want to end up with about a 3/4"-1" layer over the whole pan once it's cooked. I think I chronically tried to use too much before. Likewise the amount of liquid--it will take you a couple of runs to get your liquid to rice ratio dialed, and once you do, never forget it. I have mine on a post-it stuck to each of my pans.

        3. Try to dig up some of Penelope Casas' recipes.

          1 Reply
          1. re: oldunc

            Totally agree. I've made many of the dishes in her Paella book, and she knows the dish in all its variations.

            The one criticism I have of Penelope is that sometimes the meat components (pork or chicken) can be really dry. I know from other braising dishes that her recipes tend to fall in the dry/tough zone. So you might want to try and cook the meat components a bit less, or a lot longer.

          2. I've seen a number of those, and cooked paella like dishes long before that. Seems to me that paella is more a matter of technique than recipe. That, and practice.

            Why don't you just go into the kitchen, and make a dish inspired by what you have already seen, and using what ever you have on hand? Don't wait till you find the best recipe!

            2 Replies
            1. re: paulj

              OK, I took the leap today into the kitchen. Not totally inspired by the ATK/CI recipe, but since I am a fan of 10 seasons of shows, I knew that I could turn out something based on their exact instructions.

              Some of my ingredients were the same, some not.
              Red Bell Peppers from my garden.
              It called for an ONION!, I used a red onion :-)
              )It called for can of diced tomatoes; I used strained organic.
              It called for dry white wine - I did not use any today (private reason)
              I used organic chicken, had no sausages.
              I thawed: shrimp, calamari, scallops, mussels from a bag of "supreme seafood."
              I used my own homemade organic chicken stock.
              I used Spanish Saffron threads
              I used Bay Leaf and
              I used 2 cups Calasparra Rice
              the large pot as in the recipe, even though I bought a paella pan for my first time use. (Call me scaredy-cat.)

              I used probably 1/2 cup more chicken broth than called for. The rice was a little too moist, but not quite as moist as a dry risotto. The recipe calls for cooking with the lid on - means more moisture.
              The option in the recipe for the soccarat was to set the Dutch oven uncovered over medium-high heat for about 5 minutes, rotating the pot 180 degrees after 2 minutes for even browning.
              After all this, I certainly didn't want to risk burning my pot, nor the rice, just to try this out; so I didn't.

              I think a sausage (ran out of sausages, usually I have many pounds of them, not one in the freezer!) would have helped the flavor.
              I don't think I'd like a chorizo. I dislike the Mexican chorizos (cured - and not cured). I hardly ever eat pork, but I think I'd like it in this particular ingredient-ed recipe.

              The recipe didn't call for smoked or regular paprika. I added 1 tsp. smoked paprika.

              1. re: Rella

                Spanish chorizo is quite different from Mexican, especially the 'fresh' stuff from a grocery. Cured Spanish chorizo is much more like Italian salami, though with a distinctive paprika color (but not necessarily heat).

            2. CreateTV (PBS) is having a Paella marathon today.

              1 Reply
              1. re: paulj

                Thanks Paulj. Everyone will be happy. But I don't have TV anymore. I'll look to see their line-up and see what I'm missing.

              2. The original comment has been removed