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SobaAddict70

Paella

127 posts in this topic

What makes an authentic paella?

Does a paella have to be cooked in a special pan? (There is one, but I can't remember the name of it at the moment.)

How varied are paellas compared to risotto?

What kind of image is conjured up for you when you think about or hear about paella?

For me, there is paella valenciana (the traditional kind incorporating chicken, pork, shellfish and vegetables) and a vegetarian paella. I have made recipes which were a blurring of lines between paella and risotto. What are your favorite kinds and recipes?

Discuss...

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I made a paella last week according to a Tyler Florence recipe, although all of them seem to be very similar. It came out ok, but not much depth of flavor, or really any particular flavor, in the rice. It seemed a bit greasy, but the chorizo I used was partly to blame. Is paella supposed to be a hightly flavored dish? Maybe I'm just used to eating the spicy rice dishes here in Cajun country. Anyway, I was somewhat disappointed. Can anyone help???


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I am actually teaching paella making at my cooking class tomorrow, interesting that you just mentioned it.

I have eaten paella outside of my home twice, once in Spain and once in Spanish restaurant in Tokyo.

I make it at home almost once a month, I have no idea how "traditional" mine is but I like it.

I make it with

chicken thighs (marinated in EVOO,white wine, garlic and lemon)

chorizo

shrimp (marinated in EVOO, garlic, rosemary, crushed red pepper flakes)

what ever shellfish are available (cooked in EVOO and white wine)

red peppers (sweet)

red onion

lots of garlic

green and black olives

The only seasoning is saffron and good chicken stock

Since I don't have a paella, I use a very large fry pan.


<p><strong>Kristin Wagner</strong>, aka "torakris"

Manager, Membership

<a class="bbc_email" href="mailto:kwagner@egstaff.org" title="E-mail Link">kwagner@egstaff.org</a></p>

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I happen to have a paella pan, which I use on the stove top to start the dish, and then finish it in the oven, covered with foil until the saffron flavored broth/wine liquid is all absorbed. Paella is not a highly seasoned dish, but rather allows the ingredients to shine. I like to use chicken thighs, chorizo, calamari rings, shrimp and some clams and/or mussels as available. There have to be peas added toward the end and some roasted red pepper strips arranged across the top. Otherwise it's pretty much a "clean out the fridge" casserole, brought to a higher plane by the addition of the saffron to the broth. Pretty simple stuff. And always a crowd pleaser. There was a great version of paella done on FoodTV awhile back, with Padma Lakshmi hosting. She helped make a giant paella over a fire outdoors. I could practically smell it coming through the TV set! That recipe doesn't seem to be in the FoodTV recipe archives though. :angry:


Edited by KatieLoeb (log)

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The first thing the Spaniards will tell you is that the type of rice is very important.

An absolute must is a round, short grain type, and the best of the best is Calasparra rice, grown in in the province of Murcia, southeastern Spain.

This is an excerpt from a brochure about Calasparra rice that I brought home from my last visit to Murcia:

"The rice is grown in ancient terraces built by the Moors and these fields are irrigated by the cold water of the River delta. It is a short grain rice, whose starch structure gives a much moister, stickier finished consistency to that of long grain. Traditional Spanish rice dishes use the great absorbency of their short grained varieties which were flavoured with whatever was fished, hunted or came to hand. The rice grain acts as a vehicle or sponge for all the flavours of the ingredients cooked with it."


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Actually, Tyler Florence knows more about paella than anyone from Spain. In fact, anyone at FTV knows more about food than the rest of the world combined.

When I was living in Spain, the words "Cajun" and "Tyler Florence's recipe" came up so often, I thought I was high from the crocus stamen so described as "saffron" from the writers at FTV.

Please release me from this indignant state.

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While the Paella Valenciana known to most is a mixture of meats and seafood, my understanding is that purists abhor the idea (although I must say it tastes good) and that in fact the traditional Arroz a la Valenciana contains snails found in the rice fields, and possibly rabbit (dont' remember just now).

Question: I alway season my paella indirectly, i.e. I make the broth well in advance (from shrimp shells if seafood, from chicken base if meat) and season it with salt and also once taken off the heat, throw in the saffron threads. I find that this way, the saffron flavor (and color) is distributed much more evenly than if I threw the threads into the pan during the actual cooking process.

So am I breaking any tenets of good paella making?

By the way, I find the squeezing of a bit of lemon over the finished dish to be quite essential to the taste. You?


Edited by Wimpy (log)

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It has always been my impresssion that an authentic Paella is a dish of the land, not the sea (i.e it is from where they grow rice, not where they fish!). It may contain eel taken from the river, but is not meant to be a seafood dish.

My guess is the 'popular' version is due to the fact that Spanish holiday resorts are on the coast, therefore tourists expect seafood, and it is also likely to be cheaper. They also want to eat 'Spanish' food, therefore they get Seafood Paella.

I have seen recipes for other 'Arroz' dishes which do contain seafood (Which are a lot closer to a risotto) whether they are more authentic I am not sure. I have had a dish with a lot in common with a paella, but made with small pieces of pasta instead.

On saying all this, I am not that much of a stickler for authenticity, I love Paella, and I like mussels and squid in my paella. And you are right, the lemon is essential (in my book anyway - especially when the pan is still hot enough that it sizzles).

As for how 'flavouful' it should be, while it probably shouldn't be spicy like a jambalaya, the best versions I have ever had have contained enough saffron to make your lips tingle - probably a bit cost prohibative in most places.

Carl


I love animals.

They are delicious.

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Mmmmm...paella.

I know the Spain/Portugal volume of the Time-Life Foods of the World from the late 60s has a large section, maybe even a chapter, on paella and how it's one of those things where half a dozen villages/regions claim origination and authenticity and they're all different. Will try to post a summary when I get home tomorrow if the thread is still active.

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Paella looks suspiciously like jambalaya, except it has saffron. There are probably as many regional versions of paella as there are for jambalaya. And if you want to start a really serious food fight, just say one or the other is THE authentic one. I think it is good, ok, not something I would drive a significant number of miles for.


Linda LaRose aka "fifi"

"Having spent most of my life searching for truth in the excitement of science, I am now in search of the perfectly seared foie gras without any sweet glop." Linda LaRose

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The original paella has snails, rabbit, and green beans. It also must be cooked outdoors over an open fire by a man.

I'm a fan of putting whatever you want into it though. In Catalonia they don't add saffron (they should). The rice Jaymes refered to is highly recommended, but arborio rice will do in a pinch. You could probably use the Japanese style Cal-Rose rice too, but the rice has to be short grained - not long grain.

The fact that so many of you use chicken thighs shows how smart people here are. I also like using cubes of pork shoulder. If you want to make a fancy paella put a cut up lobster in there.

Also, one other key thing is you must fry the rice before adding the liquid, like a risotto. All the liquid should be added at once though, and stirred very little.


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I use Japanese rice with great success, (in a very small voice....) I use it in risotto too.


<p><strong>Kristin Wagner</strong>, aka "torakris"

Manager, Membership

<a class="bbc_email" href="mailto:kwagner@egstaff.org" title="E-mail Link">kwagner@egstaff.org</a></p>

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I use Japanese rice with great success, (in a very small voice....) I use it in risotto too.

I once read an article somewhere where they had Italian chefs use top grade Japanese rice and Japanese chefs used arborio. Both sides agreed that the others rice was great.

Just don't use long grain in paella.


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It has always been my impresssion that an authentic Paella is a dish of the land, not the sea (i.e it is from where they grow rice, not where they fish!). It may contain eel taken from the river, but is not meant to be a seafood dish.

My guess is the 'popular' version is due to the fact that Spanish holiday resorts are on the coast, therefore tourists expect seafood, and it is also likely to be cheaper. They also want to eat 'Spanish' food, therefore they get Seafood Paella.

I have seen recipes for other 'Arroz' dishes which do contain seafood (Which are a lot closer to a risotto) whether they are more authentic I am not sure. I have had a dish with a lot in common with a paella, but made with small pieces of pasta instead.

I think it's easier to talk about a dish's origins than to debate the authenticity of any one version. What makes a dish authentic? My guess is that more paella is served to tourists in Spain than is eaten by the natives and I wouldn't be surprised to hear that most of that is prepared sous vide at the Paellador commissary and delivered to local restaurants to be reheated and served at inexpensive cafes an restaurants in Catalunya. In the town of Rosas, just a few kilometers from the very famous El Bulli, boil in bag paella appeared to be something a restaurant bragged about rather than hid, judging by all the signs announcing it in front of restaurants. Paellador introduced its product in the US market with ads in the NY Times indicating which restaurants were serving it. I've always been leery of ordering paella in the states, but like bouillabaisse, even a second rate inauthentic paella can be a great crowd pleaser if you're looking for delicious rather than authentic.

Paella is but one of many rice dishes in Spain and in most restaurants, I'd recommend most of the other rices dishes over paella if for no other reason than I feel they're made for local rather than tourist tastes. It's possible I've never had a great paella, let alone an authentic one, but I've never had one I didn't enjoy. Nevertheless, I'd opt for an "arroz caldosa" with lobster or mixed seafood most of the time. In a good restaurant the depth of flavor in magnificent. Pasta is a commonplace ingredient, particularly in Catalunya and there are versions of seafood and pasta that are parallels to the local rice and seafood dishes. I believe, Catalunya, the Balearic Islands and Sardinia were part of the same kingdom once.


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I'm reviving this thread in anticipation of getting back into paella preparation on a semi-regular basis. I've always enjoyed it at home and typically make enough to freeze up several containers to for later use as microwaved lunches and dinners.

The recipe I've been using for years is from the Jeff Smith's old Frugal Gourmet's syndicated newspaper column. I recently saw a rerun on FTV of the "Best Of Paella" episode with Tyler what's-his-name. Smith's method is nearly identical to the manner in which FTV showed it being prepared among the Cuban community in South Florida. That's fine and it is tasty but I'm intrigued by the enormous shallow paella pans that were shown when it was being prepared in Valencia Spain. I'd like to retain most of the ingredients I'm presently using but want to prepare larger batches - I'm sure the absorption of liquid issues that I have encountered on occasion are due to trying to use too large and deep a container for the amount of rice. I have a heavy duty paella pan by Le Crueset but it's small - perhaps 11 or 12".

I've been intrigued by the offerings at

PaellaPans.com

They offer traditional paella pans in a huge variety of sizes and also sell tripods and propane burners designed for use with the extra wide ones. I'm in search of feedback from people who may have tried the larger pans and can comment on the relative value of carbon steel vs. stainless vs. enamel finish in these products.

If you've used the extra large pans (22" is the size I'm thinking of), did you use it on two burners of a gas stove? On a Weber grill? With an outdoor propane burner? Also.... are there specifics tips and tricks in technique that help to ensure better results when making the jump to the larger pans?

I'm also open to discussions of new and different recipes. I have been using uncured Portuguese style chorizo that I was buying in Newark's Ironbound section but now that I'm back up here in the boondocks I'll be switching to a cured Chorizo that one of my local markets carries. Am also in search of feedback regarding the use of rabbit. My local farmers market has fresh rabbit available every Saturday morning and I'd love to find a good use for it. Does one use the entire rabbit and if so, how is it sectioned? If not... what sections should be used?

Last but not least - I'm using Spanish saffron. Is it worth seeking out Persian saffron? Is it that much better or more intense in flavor?

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I usually prepare paella outdoors, using a (non-stainless) steel pan. Mine is 18". This link gives some basic tips about outdoor cooking: tienda.com You can also use a gas grill, but it's a little trickier to finish the dish.


Edited by thursdaynext (log)

"A good dinner is of great importance to good talk. One cannot think well, love well, sleep well, if one has not dined well." Virginia Woolf

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Bollocks. I just spent half an hour typing up a response and somehow lost it. :angry:

Paella happens a lot around here. My husband's father is from Valencia (family came here when Franco got going), so paella is a big deal. Everyone has a different approach – my FIL and his brother bicker endlessly about ingredients and method. My husband's brother makes an entirely different paella than does my husband, and my husband's paella has evolved significantly since he hooked up with me. All of them would agree, though, that the best paella is made in a carbon-steel pan and cooked over a wood fire.

Bottom line is, bigger pan needs bigger fire. You can fake it across two burners, but you'll have to finesse the pan (rotate it) for even cooking (DON'T stir it!). There is a paella-specific propane burner (called a paellero), available in a number of sizes, that will make the job easier. Tienda has them: paellero. FWIW, a paella pan is also called a paellero.

Our party pan is 26", and that usually gets cooked over a wood fire. My husband makes a low tripod out of three lengths of re-bar driven into the ground, then builds a fire using small sticks (about 1" in diameter). The small sticks are important: they let you stoke the fire up to a rage quickly and cool it down just as fast. It's important to level the pan, especially if it's a big one. Just fill it with water and place it on whatever setup you're cooking on, then futz until it's level.

Here's a photo of the fire setup:

i5378.jpg

I think that's a 22" pan. We had three going that night – the 26", this one, and a 16" without meat for the fish-eating "vegetarians".

Here's a finished paella, albeit from a different party:

i1469.jpg

Sorry if this post is a little disjointed. The first one was spot-on. :hmmm:

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I remember an account of a paella being made in the Time-Life Foods of the World series, in the Spain volume to be exact -- ditto on most of the details above, except that in the center was a dish placed face down and another on top of that placed face up, with salad in it.

The idea was, that you'd eat the paella on the outside, alternately with bites of salad from the center, and when the salad was gone, take off the center plates and consume the paella in the center.

Soba

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What about saffron? I've been making paella for years with it, only to read in Saveur a while back that in Valencia (and elsewhere in Spain) restaurants and people at home use food dye.

This was certainly the case with the paella I sampled on two separate occasions a couple of weeks ago in Seville. Is it a cost issue, or have people concluded that it just doesn't make enough difference to bother with?


Arthur Johnson, aka "fresco"

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I can't comment on what tradition or even current practice calls for but having tried it made with turmeric for color and flavor and also with saffron - I really prefer it with saffron. I was getting Mexican saffron realy cheap but the latest container I got is (supposedly) of Spanish origin. You can't skimp on the saffron if you really want the flavor but it is a unqiue taste that IMHO cannot be duplicated with anything else - not even close.

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What about saffron? I've been making paella for years with it, only to read in Saveur a while back that in Valencia (and elsewhere in Spain) restaurants and people at home use food dye.

This was certainly the case with the paella I sampled on two separate occasions a couple of weeks ago in Seville. Is it a cost issue, or have people concluded that it just doesn't make enough difference to bother with?

It has got to be a cost issue- otherwise why even bother with the yellow dye? It appears that people expect saffron in the dish & would rather fake it than omit altogether.


"A good dinner is of great importance to good talk. One cannot think well, love well, sleep well, if one has not dined well." Virginia Woolf

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I'm not sure it has to be a cost issue. Saffron isn't to everyone's taste, especially if the cook happens to be heavy handed.


Arthur Johnson, aka "fresco"

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True- nothing worse than wasting enough threads to turn the dish bitter! I just wondered why one would bother to use yellow dye in that case? Must be the weight of tradition. :huh:


"A good dinner is of great importance to good talk. One cannot think well, love well, sleep well, if one has not dined well." Virginia Woolf

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