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Dec 3, 2011 03:51 PM

Help with Paella Mixta

I have a version for a paella mixta that I love, posted below. I don't mind at all that the flavors are not traditional, this version was delicious and I don't have too many paella recipes that I enjoy, including a few versions by Casas. What I would like to do with this one is cook it in a traditional paella pan. I have a badly seasoned one (I'm terrible at seasoning pans) that measures 13" at the base and 15" at the top opening. Would I have to modify any of the rice/liquid quantities to cook in this pan? What about the time required? Ideally I would love to start it off on the stove and finish in the oven, but don't want to use the 10x15 glass dish that is required for the recipe.

I'm not sure that another recipe will help since I want to use the same ingredients. I use boneless/skinless thighs in the same quantity required and fry it in the bacon fat as indicated. I could do without the onions for a more garlicky flavor since I like to add aioli; haven't decided if I'll use them again or not. I'm fine with the selection and quantities of fish/shellfish here as well. I also use Bomba rice which is available nearby.

Idea would be to make the recipe work in my paella pan if possible, and definitely welcome any other suggestions aficionados may offer, even if this version may be heresy to some. Tia!

Recipe here:

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  1. The area of your paella is 132 square inches, a bit less than the 150 of the glass pan. So the rice layer will be a bit deeper, and the amount of liquid loss to evaporation may be less. But the proportions in this this recipe don't necessarily match those of an ideal Spanish paella.

    This recipe calls for 2c long grain rice, 3 1/2 c of liquid. It is also baked with a foil cover.

    Traditional paella's (at least in Spain) call for a shorter rice, and cooking uncovered. Plus the rice quantity is scaled to the diameter of the pan (1c of rice for a 12" pan is the rule of thumb that comes to mind). And the resulting rice layer should be quite thin.

    My guess is that you could cook this recipe in your pan, without any adjustments, and the rice will cook fine. A Spaniard might insist that you call it a 'rice dish' as opposed to an paella, but it still should be tasty. There are plenty of Spanish 'arroces' like that.

    22 Replies
    1. re: paulj

      Paulj, what would you do to keep the method truer to authentic paella without altering the flavors? I plan on using Bomba rice, if I were to use the stovetop only, how much liquid would you recommend for 2 cups of rice? I'd like to keep the flavors, but try to keep the method more true to a traditional paella if at all possible.

      eta: I'm thinking now it would probably be much easier to adjust the amount of bomba rice and not adjust the liquids? Also there is more liquid, the recipe above is closer to 4 or 4 1/2 cups liquid because of the pimento juice.

      1. re: lilgi

        2c of water per cup of long grain rice in a sauce pan is a good rule of thumb. In this method there isn't much evaporation.

        Medium/short rice needs less water - however the typical paella method involves a lot of evaporation, so initial ratios of 3:1 are common. But it probably is easier to start with just enough water to cover, and add more if needed.

        But, maybe this page will help:

        Also there was fairly recent paella thread (see below, the Paella beginner thread).

        1. re: paulj

          I began to read the other thread and lost interest when it began to discuss authenticity. But even so, I'd like to try this recipe truer to the correct method. I'll take another look for more cooking tips. Thanks for the link, it should help!

          1. re: paulj

            Okay, looking over my notes I've made this with the addition of more liquid by adding one cup of white wine which balances out with the use of the small grain rice. And this is with the use of the glass dish, covered.

            I can't wait to try this with the paella pan and praying for a nice result with the open pan and more evaporation. If I interpreted correctly the wine, pimento juice, chicken stock, and clam juice should give me close to a 3:1 ratio which is what I think I should be looking for here? I'll keep the amount of bomba rice to 2 cups.

            Will post back after I make it which should be closer to the end of the month. I'll make sure the rice is covered with liquid as you mentioned. It's just us, so I don't have to worry about experimenting with guests, I don't think I could handle the pressure :)

        2. re: paulj

          "A Spaniard might insist that you call it a 'rice dish' as opposed to an paella"
          I'm not sure about that. Once it's ascertained that the dish is a 'paella mixta' the second word cancels out the first and nobody has any grounds to expect authenticity in any form. (I know it seems as if I'm contradicting myself but it's my one exception)

          The fantastical part is when supposed foodies start arguing and debating over the details of 'paella mixta' and quibbling over authenticity. There is NO correct method, only techniques and ingredients that are preferred by the individuals making it. When the creator has never eaten a real paella and has no interest in the details that determine what it is that makes a paella authentic, figuring out which of those techniques and ingredients best apply to them is extremely difficult (kind of like wandering off from a map and then looking for landmarks).

          Anyway, I'll do my best to apply some basic principles.
          You are baking the rice dish and it's supposed to be covered. Outside of arroz en costra, which is made in earthenware dishes in an oven, this way of cooking is quite alien to me. A rule of thumb that should work is that you don't want bomba rice to cook for longer than 17/18 minutes. You might like to try cooking it on the stove for 5 minutes (once the rice is added and boiling) and then putting it in the oven for 12 minutes. Let it 'rest' for a further 5 minutes or so before serving.
          The tricky part about the recipe is that it calls for long grain rice - the amount of stock needed to cook long grain rice is quite different to that needed for short grain Spanish rice, particularly the very thirsty bomba variety.
          2 cups (about 400grams) would be the expected amount for a 13inch/34cm pan. As you'll cover the rice why not play safe and go for double this amount in liquid (at least another half cup than called for). As there won't be so much evaporation it's possible the rice could get a little 'soupy' but I doubt it will be by much. If there isn't enough liquid and the rice is undercooked, it shouldn't be terribly underdone. Be sure to remember and adjust for the next time.
          And if you want to economise, there's no shame in leaving out the saffron not unless you really value the taste. If you require the yellow colour you can add a flavourless colorant, either instead of or (more commonly) together with a smaller amount of saffron. Saffron seems to be the ingredient that gets most fetishised outside of Valencia/Murcia and is the least used within these regions.

          Please have fun and enjoy your dish and there's no need to get any hang ups about what is or isn't traditional. I'm delighted you changed the name of the recipe for this forum - Thank you!!!

          1. re: MoGa

            Thanks so much for your input. If I had the pleasure of your company at my table this would NOT be a recipe I'd be using and I'd be one nervous woman! I think you already knew that though, in any case thanks for understanding that it's the flavors that I'm trying to keep intact and it's also not a typical dish I would make at home.

            From what I understand, "paella mixta" is the version that is accepted and recognized anywhere outside of Spain. Moga, if I'm mistaken I'll take your word for it. I never focused on authenticity because additionally, I understood that paella differs greatly between the different provinces of your country. I think I had read that outside of Valencia the dish begins to take on different forms. I also didn't grow up with paella, and I've known friends/family including an aunt that lived in Sevilla for years, that have had the real thing and prefer the Americanized version of it because it's what they're used to. Maybe for this dish it's more than just a point of reference, I think though for the sake of argument I'm trying to be true to a "paella mixta" and I say this with fear ;D

            I made note of the time which should help, but just to clarify that almost immediately after I posted I had changed my mind about finishing in the oven covered, since my goal was to cook it with the traditional method. So sorry to confuse, let me know if you still think I should finish in the oven; in my mind I was going to go radical and do the whole shebang on the burner.

            We have no fear of saffron here, I need to purchase more and maybe even use it just a tad more generously here. Thanks again for your post, I do enjoy reading the expert feedback on this particular dish!

            1. re: lilgi

              Alberto Herraiz seems to have become the lead authority on promoting rice made in paella pans with ingredients and methods that fall outside of those from the traditional Valencian nursery and he certainly advocates cooking it in an oven.

              The main reason that ovens were never used traditionally was because nobody could afford them, not because they weren’t the best way of making rice (oven rice dishes are associated with towns and villages which used to have exceptionally large houses, like Elche). If you decide to try using just your stove top, increase the stock/liquid to around 2.5 x the amount of rice and, once boiled, cook on a fierce heat for at least 7 minutes, then turn the heat down and cook for another 10 to 12 minutes. Keep a note of where the notches on your cooker are so that you can adjust (or not adjust) the next time. You might like to have the heat turned up more on your second attempt to get a golden crust if you didn’t attain one the first time.

              You seem to have a perfectly good grasp of what kind of dish you are after and that you knowingly want something that has strayed from its origins (like how Japanese curry is different to Indian curries or British Spaghetti Bolognese is different to that from Bologna – these are both well loved examples of mutant dishes that are sometimes preferred to the originals).

              I have the utmost respect for you and your quest. Hope I’ve been of some help.

              1. re: MoGa

                The word I usually use is bastardized hehe, and I can think of too many dishes that are, especially in Italian cooking, which is why I never participate in those threads. If I had to worry too much about authenticity we wouldn't eat and I'm Italian, one that's not big on pasta either mind you. In any case I have plans to make a true paella with rabbit in my future which I know I don't have the right pan for, but it is definitely on my long list.

                Thanks for the help, now I must plan for a limoncello Tiramisu that is in my immediate future :)

                1. re: lilgi

                  lilgi- not sure if you are going to return to this thread before you make your paella, but if you do, and are using a Bomba rice, your liquid ratio should be closer to 3.5 or 4, in my experience.

                  I usually start rice in paella pans on the stovetop and move them to a weber to finish. I've occasionally made smaller ones completely on the stovetop and still remember needing more then 3:1. When I incorporate seafood, I usually cook it separately and place it on top of the rice at the end.

                  For the size pan you describe, I think I would probably use 1 1/2 cups rice rather than 2 cups. How many people are you planning or trying to serve?

                  1. re: souvenir

                    When people specify a ratio like 3:1 (as opposed to 2:1 or less), I wonder whether that is required by the rice, or the cooking method. If I lower the heat as soon as the rice is added and liquid boiling, and cover it, I'm going to need less liquid than if I leave it uncovered, and keep it boiling for 7 minutes before turning the heat down.

                    1. re: paulj

                      paulj- I'm sure you are right about the cooking method and liquid needed. But I have also used a variety of spanish rices and have found Bomba style needs more liquid than others to achieve "doneness". I usually bring to a boil, move to the Weber and then simmer it there uncovered. The only time I even loosely cover a paella is at the end for the 5-10 minute or so rest before serving.

                    2. re: souvenir

                      We are 4, I'm afraid to use less rice though. With about a cup of wine I should have about 3:1 and I can adjust with slightly more stock or wine, but I have a feeling that I'll have to eyeball it from there and make sure that the rice is slightly under liquid level if I understood Paulj correctly above. The rice will be uncovered and I'll start with the high heat as suggested. I wouldn't be surprised if once I see everything in the pan I might think I need more liquid as you say but I'll take notes, especially with the heat adjustments.

                      I'm with you totally on adding most of the shellfish and chicken towards the end, I don't think the rice would cook properly if I add everything too early in the process.

                      1. re: lilgi

                        Wine!?!? (sorry, I couldn't resist :) )

                        I did mention that bomba is a particularly thirsty rice and souvenir is right to draw your attention to the rice:liquid ratio. As Paulj has said, cooking methods definitely do affect the amount and my 1:2 suggestion was based on the bomba rice remaining covered in the oven (souvenir is quite right about bomba often needing a 1:3 ratio or higher - the 1:2.5 ratio I mentioned could well be too low, but this would be where I'd start, probably with another cup of piping hot stock to hand should a minor salvage operation be needed)
                        One of the reasons I don't like to use bomba is because it's so thirsty and I find it easier to make delicious strongly flavoured stock in smaller quantities. Bomba is usually recommended for beginners as it keeps it's integrity better than the other Valencian rice varieties. For myself, I use the Balila x Solana rice from Murcia (Calasparra) as it's harder than the other Valencian rices so keeps that integrity yet is less thirsty than bomba rice. However, as you are using bomba this might be a compelling reason to use the oven.
                        The shortcut used by a huge number of people in Spain, and a reason why the thirsty bomba is so popular for paella 'dabblers' (I.e. Those who haven't made paella weekly for decades) is commercially made stock which is available cheaply in tetrabrik packs.
                        Unless you can procure a large quantity of good stock the 'covered in an oven' method does seem more and more appropriate for your circumstances - and you'll wind up using less of that wine, which is inevitably taking the paella mixta into risotto territory.

                        1. re: MoGa

                          Ah, old habits die hard. Noted, no wine will be used, I'll rely on the stock for liquid. I noticed your mentioning of hot liquid, will make sure the stock is heated thoroughly before adding.

                          I'll also check the store by me for Balila x Solila rice and take notes of their selection. They have a few others besides bomba, I wouldn't be surprised if they have it.

                          This might be a good time to inquire about the pan that I have, which is the typical carbon steel that you would find here for paella. My feeling is that it's not the best conductor of heat when used on a standard stovetop setting, at the very least, not for this purpose. It seems incredibly lightweight; what was especially evident to me was the uneven heat distribution as I attempted to season the pan using the burner instead of the oven, per manufacturers directions. On a low flame and seasoning as directed, the coloring became extremely uneven hitting only the center spot. I though that a cast iron skillet would work well for paella on the stove top, only to learn it retains too much heat. It's what I thought would be ideal since the pan is not being used outdoors on a stand with fire.

                          How do you feel about the use of a large ci skillet for the burner, but manipulating the flame very carefully? Is the use of one too unorthodox? Could the uneven heating of a burner with a typical carbon steel paella pan be the reason why use of the oven is being recommended more frequently now? Because I'm thinking this could be why the smaller pans might work better for this. Unfortunately I only have the one, but I would not consider getting a larger one now; the one I have may be an average sized paella pan but it covers a fairly wide area over the burner.

                          eta: after I posted this I realized that souvenir mentioned moving the pan over to a weber, it's something that unfortunately I wouldn't be able to do.

                          1. re: lilgi

                            Carbon steel is cheap, and easy to form in large sizes. But it really needs a well distributed heat source, such as the traditional fire made of twigs and vine trimmings. In an American home about the best you can do is use the outdoor grill, oven, or constantly move the pan over the burner. In another thread I talked about seeking a way of diffusing the heat from a butane burner enough to cook in my 12" enameled steel pan - with limited success. More often I'll settle for cooking the rice in a 10" cast aluminum pan.

                            Put some water in your pan and bring it to a boil, then lower the heat. Can you still get bubbles uniformly across the surface of the pan? If so, you have a good match between pan and heat source for making paella. If not, you'll get uneven cooking, usually with the rice in the middle being done while that at the rim is still hard.

                            1. re: paulj

                              paulj has explained this better than I can.
                              I have a dedicated paella burner with several large rings that is fired by butane. This heats a large surface area evenly and overcomes the problems you talked about. When cooking over a stove top I use a large heavy based frying pan (I don't know what a ci skillet is - I live in the UK, I've never heard of a weber either)
                              I suspect you could get away with using your 13" pan on a stovetop for a few minutes before transferring to the oven if you stay on guard duty during that time and constantly turn and shift the pan. Then take breather once it is covered and in the oven!

                              Oh yes, Balilla x Solana rice is usually called Calasparra rice (it's just that Calasparra is a region and here they grow the Balilla x Solana variety as well as their own bomba, so calling it Calasparra rice can be confusing). Sometimes you'll see it sold as 'Flor de Calasparra' - there are several co-operatives who sell it and the name can vary a little (also make sure you aren't getting the semi-integral or integral, both are lovely but you'll need white rice). As a bonus, rice from this region is usually organic.

                              1. re: MoGa

                                Apologies, ci meant to abbreviate cast iron, weber an outdoor grill.

                                I remember seeing a few brands of calasparra rice, I'll check which ones.

                              2. re: paulj

                                Measured the diameter of the flame today at 7 inches. Once the flame hits the pan surface underneath it spreads and covers the bottom of the pan, the area inside the flame seems to receive the least amount of heat (less boiling in the middle). After trying this I'm much less concerned than I was, when I saw how much the flame covered. I'm going to try this on a smaller burner just for the heck of it to see what results I'll get. But this was great, you really see how uneven the heat distribution is.

                              3. re: lilgi

                                The Spanish Table's recipe addresses your concerns, I think.

                                It has some specific instructions for starting the carbon steel pan on the stovetop, moving to oven, returning to stovetop to finish.


                                I loosely follow what they describe, as far as ratios per person, but change the ingredients depending on what flavor combos I want in the dish, or because of what seafood is available.

                                I don't use onion because I don't like the moisture it brings to the rice cooking process. I prefer making a sofrito that is mainly red peppers, garlic and tomatoes.

                                I toast the saffron threads in a dry small pan before adding a few ounces of wine to it and adding it in right before I add the stock.

                                Since you are making a seafood paella that calls for shrimp, you could make stock from the shrimp shells.

                                1. re: souvenir

                                  Thanks for the tips souvenir, I won't be adding the onions going heavier on the garlic. The link you posted doesn't seem to be working, I took a quick look under pans but couldn't find the info. I'll have another look with more time.

                                2. re: lilgi

                                  " Balilla x Solana" rice, didn't catch the typo in time to correct.

                                  (not sure why this posted all the way down here, meant for post above).

                                  1. re: lilgi

                                    I'm sorry the link to The Spanish Table recipe didn't work.

                                    From the main page,
                                    Click on Paella (left-hand column
                                    )And then click on TSP Paella Recipe (left-hand column)

                                    Here's a link to the PDF version, though I'm afraid the link may not survive posting here,

                2. I don't know if this was ever mentioned on another thread, but what about using the floor of the oven instead of the rack? Oven will go to 525, the floor should be much hotter, closer to a flame. It would probably need less time and could be watched through the window.

                  4 Replies
                  1. re: lilgi

                    I don't think there's any need for the temp to be that high. The main reasons I use a grill are in order to get wood smoke to the dish (usually by wood chips). If you can get to the Spanish Table recipe, their oven temp rec is 350-400.

                    Another thought for your uneven stovetop heating, I have a cast iron diffuser for my gas stovetop. I have a 7 inch one in order to simmer on super low on more than one burner. But it also works nicely at higher temps to more evenly spread heat. I think they are made as large as 11 or so inches.

                    1. re: lilgi

                      Hot temperatures are only generally used for the first 5 or 7 minutes of cooking time (from the point at which the rice is added to liquid at boiling point). It's those initial minutes that I think you can use your stove top for, moving your pan around to lessen the impact of that central cold spot. If you are going to use your oven for the remaining 10-12 minutes then try the cooler middle on your first attempt.
                      You can always try moving it down on your next try. You might even get a lovely crust with this method.
                      What won't happen is the rice taking less time to cook with the higher temperature. It CAN burn instead. There have been plenty of instances of paellas which are served with charred yet still unpleasantly al dente rice because the cook was chatting and forgot to turn down the heat for the last ten minutes. I hope this phenomenon isn't replicated in your oven! A squeeze of lemon juice can help tone down the taste of a bit of over-browned rice but it isn't a miracle ingredient.

                      1. re: MoGa

                        Thanks all, this attempt should be much better. I'll report back on this after the new year. Souvenir, I like the idea of having a diffuser. Definitely will keep it in mind for the future, and thanks for reposting the link - I like that website.

                        1. re: lilgi

                          You are very welcome. I look forward to reading what methods you use and how it works out for you.

                    2. I had to wait a bit to report back because I was determined to try a second attempt with strictly chicken in order to obtain a better grasp of the way the rice should behave. I'm afraid though, under no circumstances would I be able to judge my own dish since I've never had paella made for me by a true Valenciana; all I can do really, is talk about my experiences and hopefully receive helpful feedback as to what I should or should not be doing. I am in good company here for this, thanks again to you all.

                      First let me say that the "arroz" was delicious on both attempts, but failures as far as the method for paella is concerned for all I can tell. Neither attempt yielded the soccarat (hope I spelled this correctly); the rice bloomed far too much the first time and it was slightly undercooked the second. But I believe the second attempt to be much finer, and the method was slightly altered the second time going.

                      Before I go further, I think the most important element that was missing for me is how the rice should appear before the transfer into the oven. I got the sense that the time that the pan is on the burner at full flame might not be as important as how much liquid should be absorbed and how the rice should appear. In any case, there was too much liquid left in the pan the first time around and the rice was much drier the second.

                      Even though the second attempt was far better, I knew immediately what would be working against me. For example I decided to finish the package of rice (btw it was the "FLOR" brand of calasparra, and I will be forever buying this rice - thanks for the recommendation) which meant an extra 1/4 cup went into the mix. I also used exactly 6 cups of liquid even though there was a little more rice, but this time I decided to let the braised chicken cook in the chicken stock for a few minutes before adding the rice which might have led to some evaporation.

                      Could I have dried up the rice too much before placing it in the oven? I waited 10 minutes instead of the 7 minutes Moga indicated so the rice might have been much more moist with less time on the burner and left longer to cook in the oven. As I transferred the pan I could see about half the pan of undercooked pearls exposed with the liquid bubbling through underneath.

                      I also used a 400 degree oven, and placed the rice on the floor for 7 minutes, and then on the center rack for another 7 to 8 minutes. Still no soccarat and I almost expected it much more-so this time because the rice was much drier. If I had gone the 7 minutes with the right amount of rice I think this attempt might have worked, and the amount of liquid seems to be fine even with some evaporation before adding the rice.

                      If I make this again I would probably go about it by adding the rice to the hot liquid already in the pan (second attempt), rather than saute the rice for less than a minute and adding the boiling hot liquid (first attempt). Even though the amount of liquid was the same and piping hot when it was added, it took a few minutes for that liquid to come to a full boil after pouring it into the pan, and I was not happy. I felt the rice was sitting in much more liquid than it should have been for more time, as it took so long for the liquid come to a rolling boil again. So on this attempt 10 minutes would probably have been a better choice rather than the 7, because of the dynamics of waiting for that water to reheat again- could be why the rice was a bit soggy, and this might have contributed the rice not being dry enough for the transfer.

                      The first attempt also had a bit more liquid because of the fish, but what I did here was I added the fish during the first half of the process and then removed it when it was done, as I felt that it would completely interrupt the absorption process of the rice to add it in later. I simply placed the fish while the rice was at a rolling boil on the burner, waited for the shells to open and gave it an extra minute before removing and setting aside wrapped in foil. The chicken remained throughout, only 2 pounds of thighs were used instead of 3 which I felt was more than enough. I transferred the fish to the rice after it was cooked during the rest and covered again with foil.

                      I'll be attempting this again soon; this is one dish that completely puts me in a zone. It's a wonderful cure for a cook that needs distraction from whatever ails them at the moment because you really can't turn your back for a second unless your experienced. The science involved with this dish reeled me in, I'm completely smitten ;)

                      2 Replies
                      1. re: lilgi

                        The hair on my neck tingled a little reading your report.
                        With the attention to detail you've shown I believe you've made an excellent start to dominating arroz dishes.
                        Many cooks from the Levante region of Spain never master the science (and I include myself here) we just rely on experience and try to learn from our failures. With a new pan and a new kitchen and a new type of rice (and for the meticulous, new firewood and a new kind of water) even the most accomplished cooks can end up with disappointing results.
                        My only advice to you is to concentrate less on getting a socarrat crust whilst you're perfecting your rice cooking technique. Focus on getting the best rice you can (and you seem very very close to nailing it) and once you've got this part of your technique under your belt, then see what adjustments you'll need to make in order to caramelise the bottom layer.
                        I'm not sure I'd be able to achieve a socarrat from an oven, it could be that a preheated granite baking stone or similar would be required to give that bottom layer that extra kiss of heat (like the dolsot/hot stone pots some Korean dishes are served in where the granite from the bowl imparts a golden crust to the rice as it sits on the table.)

                        As cooking rice in a metal paella pan in an oven isn't exactly traditional you should feel free to plunder ideas from other cultures in order to get a traditional tasting result.

                        Anyway, a warm welcome to 'the zone'. I'm certain this visit (and, I hope, extended stay here) will widen and heighten your appreciation of rice cuisines from across Spain and across the globe.

                        1. re: MoGa

                          You are too kind! Thanks so much for inspiring confidence.

                          I'll make sure I report back if I feel I've made significant progress with texture. I still have high hopes for a caramelized crust, but then again I'm an eternal optimist.