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Paella Pointers

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I am hoping to make paella for the first time on Christmas Eve. Any tips for buying a paella pan and has any one ever tried cooking it outside on a charcoal grill? NE weather being what it is it could be a bit dicey but I thought I would give it a go. Serving 8 people. Any and all suggestions are welcome. Just please don't tell me I am crazy!!

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  1. I would try it ahead of time first.

    1. China Fair carries carbon-steel paella pans in various sizes for decent prices (was slightly cheaper than La Tienda, bit more than some ebay sellers) and they said that the Needham store has a wide selection of sizes as well as aluminum pans. That info is 1+yr old when they had roughly 15, 19, and 21" pans in Cambridge.

      Christina's, Las Ventas, and Formaggio should have Bomba rice, although I have also randomly found it at Marshalls. Larger Market Baskets tend to have Goya "valencia" and other short grained rices (good for practicing).

      I might end to recommend stove+oven or stove alone over the charcoal grill this time of year, unless you have something well insulated where you can control the temp fairly well (green egg). Uninsulated metal kettles and cold wind over an open pan is going to give you inconsistent results. After the rice is cooked you can get socarrat by returning to a hot burner. Not at all crazy to try, but practicing first is a good suggestion.

      3 Replies
      1. re: itaunas

        thank you! I will check out those local places and take to heart what you are saying about cooking outdoors. The romantic in my wants to try it, but your point makes good sense -- uncooked rice is pretty unappealing! Maybe just a quick visit to the grill at the very end to form the soccarat and sooth my adventurous spirit!

        1. re: lobstagal

          My suggestions:
          --Definitely give it a test run before Christmas eve. There's an art to making good paella, and it's hard to master on the first try.

          --If you get a carbon-steel pan (recommended), keep in mind you'll need to clean it first (most of them come with a thin layer of protective oil that you'll want to remove before using with food).

          --I had great luck purchasing online through this site: www.paellapans.com. But I'm sure there are local options as well.

          --Read more than one paella recipe to get a sense of the different techniques. This video has some good tips for authentic paella (and the full recipe is at the site above):
          http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KzxD3t...

          1. re: huuvola

            I was just scouring the paellapans.com site when your reply came in! I think that is the route I am taking. Great video too --thanks!

      2. I don't see what the advantages would be to cooking it outdoors, and paella on the stovetop makes a house smell like a home. Go heavy on the saffron and garlic!

        7 Replies
        1. re: Veggo

          Great point about filling the home with paella smells --and I am with you on the saffron and garlic! now I am really getting hungry --thanks!!

          1. re: Veggo

            You can get enough heat on a home stove to get the propper socarrat (crust) on the bottom of the pan.

            1. re: StriperGuy

              Note that the bottom of the pan is slightly convex because it's meant to be nestled in the ashes. So on a flat stove top the rice will cook unevenly unless you stir it around a bit.

              1. re: cassis

                Thanks! I am thinking we will cook inside until the end and then go outside to crust up the bottom evenly and to satisfy my yen to cook outdoors in December in New England! :)

                1. re: lobstagal

                  just a caution; you really want to watch that crust- because burned crust flavor will permeate the rest of the rice.( Had repeat problems with this at Toro on last visit.)

                  1. re: opinionatedchef

                    Will do -- burnt rice is pretty yucky! thanks!!

                2. re: cassis

                  Another + for a gas range, which is not an option where I live in FL. Love it in Mexico.

            2. If you are in a pinch for rice, Sur La Table always carries Bomba or Calasparra rice - expensive but NECESSARY.
              I make paella every New Years Eve.

              1 Reply
              1. re: Cork

                YES! I invested in some Bomba --but I am practicing today with some basic med. grain rice from the local market --just to get my technique down...THANKS!