How to cook a Paella.  Utensils needed for best results.

Cooking a Paella can be the most pleasant activity when you are enjoying an outdoor family gathering or meeting with friends, regardless the number of people getting together.

You can cook a paella for as few as two people, but the world record (Guinness) was achieved in 2001 with a paella cooked for 100,000 people !!!!

We do not intend to get to this level (mainly because our backyard is not large enough!) but I wanted to give the idea that, based on the cooking utensils used, we can cook for as many people as we want.

The key piece of cookware that makes Paella so characteristic is the metal round-shape vessel where the rice is cooked. Based on the people to serve, diameters can range from 10 to 30 inches. See examples below.

Different Paella pans


It’s an iron pan with two short handles and low edges. This creates a space with shallow boiling broth where the rice will cook with an appropriate evaporation ratio.

There are several types in the market.

The most common is a simply iron pressed without any specific surface treatment. This is the preferred by paella lovers since the final taste (they say) is the best one.

Inconvenient: a little bit harder to clean and maintain between cooking times, since it can get rusted without proper care.
Other paella pan types are stainless steel and ceramic coating pans. Both are convenient and easier to clean and preserve. I would say that results are more than acceptable with those types of recipients also. I would not worry too much about this.

Another piece of equipment that is convenient to have is the burner.

Since the paella pan is round and can be of significant diameter (compared with other cookware we usually have in the kitchen) we need a burner that is able to heat the complete bottom surface.

There are specific burners in the market place, portable and inexpensive, that fit perfectly for the task. They are usually to be connected to a home gas tank and have convenient flame regulators to monitor the cooking.

The last key piece of equipment is the tripod, or base, to support the burner in a perfect horizontal plane. This is fundamental for a good result. The paella pan has to be horizontal during all the cooking process.

Other minor convenient equipment to have available are a long-handle spatula (to prevent oil splashes on our hands and forehands) and a metal stand to place the paella on a table just after cooking to prevent damaging the table.

You will be able to find these pieces of cookware in a store where they sell paella pans. There are several available on the web.

Maria Brull

© www.cookapaella.com

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