So…you want to make a Paella?

13 Jun

Finally, I thought it was about time I put pen to paper (or fingers to keyboard) for this classic recipe. I went to a local expert, he´s called “Chef Colorin” and he makes the paellas for all the local fiestas. Be warned, there are LOADS of photos in this post, but I hope you enjoy seeing the process.

Of course, he wasn´t going to just  sit down with me over a glass of wine and give me the recipe. Much better than that, I was going to join in with the cooking. Fantastic, I thought, how many are we cooking for then Chef? Oh, not too many he told me, only 420 on Sunday. Get there about 11am he said, and we´ll show you the ropes.

Not one to balk at such a challenge, and I even wore the exceedingly unflattering hat (yes, I´ll show you the photos). It was one of the hottest and windiest days we´ve had for a while, so we couldn´t even put a shelter up for shade. Hey ho, the show must go on, and of course, it did.

We used 3 Paella pans which make 140 portions each. Feel free to adapt for smaller groups! The ingredients below are per 140 person pan.

Start with your base stock which is made in large 50 litre pots, sheltered from the wind today with a clever little device which goes round the base of the gas ring.

Into each pot goes 800g of stock cubes to 50 litres of water (at home, you´d probably use home made chicken or fish stock), 5 bay leaves, 2 tablespoons of sweet pimentón, 200cl of dry white wine, 500g each of chopped peppers and garlic, 1kg of monkfish, assorted fish bones, 400g of chopped tomato and 4 kilos of prawns with their shells on. Bring to the boil then simmer for about 20 minutes or so. Chef added 14 sachets of paella food colouring to the mix but at home we´d use saffron or turmeric.

Strain out the prawns, fish etc.

Then, wearing your glamorous outfit, count out 280 prawns (that´s so that everyone gets at least 2 each) and pull any meaty bits of fish off the bones. First come, first served on any extra prawns!

Lookin´good Chica, and rockin´that mesh hat look!

Is your fire ready to cook? I hope so, we´re going to begin.

Heat 3 litres of olive oil in your pan and add 8 kilos of chopped pork and season with salt to taste. Fry gently for a few minutes.

Now add a couple of heaped tablespoons of sweet pimentón.

Next comes a kilo each of red and green peppers and 250g of chopped garlic. Don´t forget the seafood – 2 kilos of chopped squid.

Stir gently while making silly faces.

Big Man has a go wearing the “Sherry Server” hat from Jerez!

Time to add 4 kilos of chopped tomatoes and a kilo of sliced roasted peppers.

Open the bags of rice carefully – 14kg for 140 people, which translates to 100g per person at home.

Such concentration – I take my work very seriously!

Add to the pan.

Stir gently into the sofrito with your giant paddle.

Now add30 litres of stock (which is 2 litres of stock per kilo of rice, plus a little extra – at home you would add 200cl plus a dash per 100g of rice…see, not so complicated!).

Keep that rice moving without burning your legs on the fire underneath the pan.

The professionals in action…

It´s much harder than it looks! (And don´t forget to taste).

Rookie cooking….

Remove from the heat and sprinkle over those prawns and the fish you set aside.

Was he trying to sneak one of my carefully counted prawns?!

Phew, job done. Time to show off an enormous loaf of bread baked by a local baker.

While we´re eating, you can enjoy a vaguely arty shot of a clean paella pan (don´t forget to oil it after washing up).

PS. Am off to London tomorrow for a week so will try to keep up with all your lovely blogs and comments, but apologies if some have to wait until after 20th June. Hope you enjoyed the paella making as much as I did, sorry it was so long but I really enjoyed putting it together. I do have to admit though, I was quite glad to take my “uniform” off and sit down in the shade of an olive tree with a large glass of tinto de verano.


113 Responses to “So…you want to make a Paella?”

  1. Terri at Time To Be Inspired June 13, 2012 at 17:02 #

    That is one serious paella production. I love it!

  2. Roger Stowell June 13, 2012 at 17:12 #

    Fantastic. I loved the blow by blow account and the incredible quantity of ingredients. Great post.

    • Chica Andaluza June 13, 2012 at 17:28 #

      Thanks Roger – it was a wonderful opportunity for me, I really enjoyed myself (despite the hat!).

  3. cookinginsens June 13, 2012 at 17:12 #

    So funny. I was just thinking about making paella, only smaller 🙂

    • Chica Andaluza June 13, 2012 at 17:29 #

      Yes, that was even bigger than a “super sized” meal…but the method is pretty much the same, regardless of the size!

  4. Karista June 13, 2012 at 17:28 #

    Chica I just made Paella last night (in the rain!) for dinner. I made a shortcut version a few weeks ago and my family had a fit. Said it just didn’t taste the same as the version I cook outside in the paella pan. I absolutely love this post and will share it on my FB page so everyone can see how traditional Paella is made. And you wear your cooking uniform and white hat very well! 🙂

    • Chica Andaluza June 13, 2012 at 22:57 #

      I read somewhere that the difference between an “arroz” and a paella is that arroz is cooked inside the house by the woman, and a paella (from para ella – for her) is cooked outside by the man! Not sure how true this is but it made me smile 🙂

      • Karista June 14, 2012 at 16:37 #

        Haha! That is too funny. Apparently my family prefers a paella over an arroz.

      • Chica Andaluza June 14, 2012 at 23:25 #

        And I think we prefer an arroz over a paella – probably because I have to cook it 😉

  5. putneyfarm June 13, 2012 at 17:38 #

    That is soo cool, thanks for sharing. Those paddles look like oars!

    • Chica Andaluza June 13, 2012 at 22:59 #

      I do have a very funny photo that I should have put up of one of the chefs running off to a children´s ride, which was a large boat, and using his paddle as an oar!

  6. thecompletecookbook June 13, 2012 at 17:43 #

    Right, now just to find 140 people to make paella for… great photos Tanya!
    Have a fun trip visiting back home and looking forward to what you bring back this trip.
    🙂 Mandy

    • Chica Andaluza June 13, 2012 at 22:59 #

      Just issue an open invitation to your readers…I´m sure plenty would turn up! Thanks for the good wishes, am just putting the last few things in the case now 🙂

  7. bitsandbreadcrumbs June 13, 2012 at 18:13 #

    I am just catching up from my little trip home last weekend. Oh, boy! I’ve just been waiting for you to do a paella post and what fun this looks like it was…albeit hot. I’m so glad you got to do this and that you posted all these terrific photos of the process. You look very much the official paella-maker in your uniform Tanya! Jaime Oliver would be proud of you. 🙂 Have a great trip!

    • Chica Andaluza June 13, 2012 at 23:01 #

      I think when I wear a uniform it makes me feel important! I had such a great day and I was pleased to find out that although I make paella on a much smaller scale, I´m doing it right!

  8. PendleStitches June 13, 2012 at 18:26 #

    Totally, totally awesome. Do you think you’ll start a trend with the mesh hat? 😉

    • Chica Andaluza June 13, 2012 at 23:02 #

      Now then, did someone tell you that I live in The Part of the World That Fashion Forgot?! So, yes, this could be the Next Big Thing!

      • PendleStitches June 14, 2012 at 10:14 #

        Snap…if you wear a dress around here people think you’ve won your first million! 😉

  9. Promenade Claire June 13, 2012 at 19:19 #

    Priceless! I’m refering to the outfit and the grin 🙂
    I’m imaging the taste of the freshly cooked dish, aahhhhhh, perfect! I’d have to make a fish version but now I know where to come for my recipe, as long as I have my calculator at hand.
    And the post wasn’t too long at all – the photos told a great story. Safe travels and hope all goes well, Claire.

    • Chica Andaluza June 13, 2012 at 23:09 #

      Hey, didn´t they say Marilyn would look great even if dressed in a potato sack?! Ok, maybe the analogy doesn´t quite work, but it´s a “warts and all” kind of blog 😉 I prefer mine with just fish or just meat, but as long as you stick to the double the broth to rice ratio, you can play around with the ingredients and just follow the process.

  10. ceciliag June 13, 2012 at 20:16 #

    I am not sorry it was so long, this is a fantastic post, absolutely amazing for us to see this process on such a large scale and your hat is just fab sweetie!! have a good time in ,london, Mad says it is cold and wet but maybe you can bring the sun out! c

    • Chica Andaluza June 13, 2012 at 23:10 #

      I suppose I could wear my very fetching hat in London but I think the rain might drip through the mesh!

  11. kate June 13, 2012 at 20:27 #

    Wow! That’s a lot of paella! It looks delicious.

    • Chica Andaluza June 13, 2012 at 23:03 #

      And can you believe it – there were no leftovers?!

  12. Jed Gray (sportsglutton) June 13, 2012 at 20:34 #

    Oh my God Tanya! How I wish I had been there to enjoy the experience. The smells and tastes, my full belly! Oh well, at least you have provided me with yet another aspect to add to my future outdoor kitchen!

    • Chica Andaluza June 13, 2012 at 23:12 #

      Funnily enough, most of the “campo” houses here do have summer kitchens. Usually just a gas burner and a sink in a shady spot…but it does help when the house is too hot to be inside!

  13. themateriallady June 13, 2012 at 20:52 #

    I hope they saved a good portion for you Tanya! (with at least 3 prawns). It looks like a fun way to cook.

    • Chica Andaluza June 13, 2012 at 23:12 #

      We got lucky and had plenty of prawns and a big jug of tinto de verano (a bit like sangria) delivered to us under the olives. Perfect!

  14. Garden Correspondent June 13, 2012 at 21:06 #

    I loved reading this recipe- it was like cooking in the land of the giants! What a great post- I’m so glad you included all of those great photos, too. It sounds like the whole thing was quite an adventure. Have a good trip.

  15. ChgoJohn June 13, 2012 at 21:35 #

    Too long? Ha! Wait until you see Mozzarella next week!
    I’ve been waiting for you to post a paella recipe. Now I just have to invite 139 of my closest and dearest friends to the party! It looks like a lot of work but I bet you really enjoyed yourself. And that must’ve been one heckuva party, too!
    Have a wonderful time in London, Tanya. Buon viaggio!

    • Chica Andaluza June 13, 2012 at 23:16 #

      It was 3 days of partying (well, it was 5 actually, but we sat out 2 of them!). A very fun but tiring weekend and a great experience. So, put me and Big Man down on the party list, and I´m sure Max could eat a good portion or two, so now you´re down to 136…. 😉

  16. gardenfreshtomatoes June 13, 2012 at 22:05 #

    Brava, Tanya! The photos are wonderful, as (i’m sure) your day was…
    Have a good trip to London!

    • Chica Andaluza June 13, 2012 at 23:19 #

      Thanks so much – I had fun and lived through the shame of the hat! Looking forward to London (but not the weather as it´s cold and wet and here it´s fabulous) 😦

  17. narf77 June 13, 2012 at 23:17 #

    I think I will just cook the 420 portions…I can think of worse ways to spend my days than lounging about sipping red wine and mainlining that paella through a drip…yup…original recipe it is! 😉

    • Chica Andaluza June 13, 2012 at 23:24 #

      And not a grain of rice was left…they hoovered it all up! Lucky villagers 🙂

      • narf77 June 14, 2012 at 04:34 #

        Lucky AND appreciative! Well done on helping feed the starving millions…your noble efforts would have made it taste all the sweeter 🙂

  18. Caroline June 13, 2012 at 23:45 #

    This is SO cool Tanya…what fun you must have had! And look at those huge paella pans. Amazing! So jealous that you got to enjoy this delicious food. Have a wonderful time in London! 🙂

    • Chica Andaluza June 14, 2012 at 03:24 #

      Thanks Caroline, it was a wonderful experience to be able to actually join in with the cooking as well as the eating 🙂

  19. Karen June 14, 2012 at 00:03 #

    Have a lovely time in London. Your paella experience certainly looked like a great time. I have been to parties in Miami where they prepare the large paellas but I have never seen the large paddles used. Loved your interesting photos…you looked smashing my dear.

    • Chica Andaluza June 14, 2012 at 03:22 #

      A paella party in Miami, now that WOULD be fun! I´m sure my outfit would be a fashion hit there 😉

  20. andylmoore June 14, 2012 at 01:22 #

    My dream is to cook a large paella, outside for lots of people. One step closer with the proportions now. Thanks!

  21. Michelle June 14, 2012 at 01:26 #

    What fun!

  22. Rufus' Food and Spirits Guide June 14, 2012 at 03:27 #

    I need one of those pots, but bigger!

    • Chica Andaluza June 14, 2012 at 03:36 #

      You know, they´re so cheap here! I have one for about 24 portions (feeds about 10 though in our house) 🙂

  23. Florence June 14, 2012 at 06:31 #

    Brilliant post T, really enjoyed it. tfs.
    Regards Florence x

  24. Calico Stretch June 14, 2012 at 06:33 #

    Yum I love paella and have even made it once. Gotta do it again, though will probably do so indoors without the hordes of hungry folk :o))

    Love the hat and the paddles and and and

  25. delicio8 June 14, 2012 at 07:04 #

    What a wonderful experience! I’m sure the smells were heavenly. You’re living the good life. Thanks so much for sharing.

  26. chaiselongue1 June 14, 2012 at 12:08 #

    I’m always impressed by these large-scale paella productions – what fun to be part of it! Great pictures too, especially the hats! Enjoy your trip to London!

    • Chica Andaluza June 14, 2012 at 23:23 #

      My hat seems to have been a great success 😉 It was a fantastic day!

    • June 15, 2012 at 23:43 #

      Ah, the hats! Am in a very wet and windy London right now 🙂

  27. Tandy June 14, 2012 at 13:29 #

    What an amazing experience! Have fun shopping in London 🙂

    • Chica Andaluza June 14, 2012 at 23:24 #

      It was indeed Tandy, and thanks for your good wishes!

  28. A Cup of Joanne June 14, 2012 at 14:37 #

    Love paella! What a great and entertaining post! 🙂

  29. Val June 14, 2012 at 17:44 #

    I have got to get me a paella pan and some miniature paddles! Great post!

  30. annashortcakes June 14, 2012 at 18:41 #

    Looks fantastic! I hope you had fun! looks like you did!

    • Chica Andaluza June 14, 2012 at 23:27 #

      Thank you – and yes, I had an amazing time. It was something I had wanted to do for a long time!

      • annashortcakes June 15, 2012 at 02:37 #

        If I ever make it to Spain, I would love to have this experience too… maybe one day 🙂

      • Chica Andaluza June 15, 2012 at 15:30 #

        It’s good to have hopes and dreams!

  31. JamieAnne June 14, 2012 at 21:34 #

    That is amazing! It looks like it was a lot of fun!!

    • Chica Andaluza June 14, 2012 at 23:27 #

      It was great to be able to get in there and join in and not just watch from the sidelines.

  32. Mad Dog June 15, 2012 at 01:27 #

    What brilliant fun and cooking over charcoal! I hope you got a good crunchy bit in the middle 😉

    • Chica Andaluza June 15, 2012 at 15:29 #

      They kept stirring, so no crunchy bits 😦

      • Mad Dog June 15, 2012 at 18:03 #

        I always thought the crunchy bit in the middle was where it stuck because it hadn’t been stirred enough… Then I read a fantastic article on Valencian Paella and their annual competition, where part of the marks go towards how good the crunchy bit is! Amazing 😉

      • Chica Andaluza June 15, 2012 at 23:44 #

        I think I like the sound of that!

  33. Bluejellybeans June 15, 2012 at 12:29 #

    ¡Qué suerte Chica!
    A mi me encanta la paella, pero la verdad es que nunca me he puesto a ello… pero ahora con tus fantásticas instrucciones seguro que me animo 🙂
    Gracias a Chef Colorin y a ti por este maravilloso post. Espero que te lo estés pasando super bien en tu tierra.

    • Chica Andaluza June 15, 2012 at 15:32 #

      Gracias Giovanna – estoy cuidando mi mejor amiga (lo han operado hace 10 dias) pero ella se esta poniendo mejor y estamos riendo mucho!

  34. Megan June 15, 2012 at 20:08 #

    Makes me miss Spain SO much. I make it at home, but it never EVER will taste the same. Salud!

    • Chica Andaluza June 15, 2012 at 23:58 #

      Sometimes when things are exported or made somewhere else, they just don’t taste quite the same 😦

      • Megan June 18, 2012 at 17:55 #

        Nope, never!

  35. spree June 15, 2012 at 20:09 #

    YES I want to make paella! But even more than that, I’d love to make a pig of myself over yours! Tanya, something (well, a whole lot of somethings) about paella that hold such terrific appeal…but even more than all the amazing ingredients that go into it, it’s got to be mostly about the celebration, the feast of it, the camaraderie, that just tugs my heart! SImply beautiful Tanya! Hope you have a lovely time of it in London!

    • Chica Andaluza June 16, 2012 at 00:03 #

      I think you’re right – a paella isn’t just about the rice, it’s about the celebration and the sharing!

  36. Gema Frías June 16, 2012 at 14:32 #

    Hola, me ha encantado el reportaje que le ha hecho a Paco el Colorín y también me ha gustado mucho como cocinera, no sabía que usted tenía un blog tan interesante y tan variado, he reconocido gente en su blog de Mondrón y me ha dado mucha alegría, me gustaría que me enviara alguna foto y si me da su permiso lo hago directamente de su página de algunas fotos de la paella de Paco para ponerlas en el blog de Mondrón y en
    Un abrazo

    • Chica Andaluza June 16, 2012 at 15:29 #

      Hola, estoy muy contenta que le ha gustado el reportaje y tambien mi blog. Pues claro que puede usar cualquier foto en el blog de Mondron y lo de Periana! Un saludo, Tanya PD. Si quiere mas fotos, tengo un monton del dia y otros del campo y paisaje por aqui

  37. Sawsan@ Chef in disguise June 16, 2012 at 19:38 #

    I really enjoyed this post Tanya and you look great in anything my friend even a mesh hat 🙂
    Looks like you had a great time making paella. It sounds like an amazing experience, thank you for sharing it with us
    Enjoy your stay in London my friend

    • Chica Andaluza June 16, 2012 at 23:32 #

      Thank you Sawsan – sometimes you just have to follow fashion (or at least leathy & hygiene rules!). I was very lucky to have had such a great experience 🙂

  38. alessandro ciapanna June 16, 2012 at 20:00 #

    be proud. be very proud… viva espana! 😉

  39. Michi June 16, 2012 at 22:36 #

    This. is. awesome! And dear lord, paella for 420 people? No problem?!?! I’ll make sure to click back to this recipe if I ever have to feed hundreds of hungry mouths – hopefully I’ll also have enormous paella pans on hand. 😉 Don’t you ever look back and wonder, “who would have thought I’d ever make a giant paella, entre familia?” You look adorable in your paella uniform by the way. 🙂

    • Chica Andaluza June 16, 2012 at 23:34 #

      I have to confess that I’ve wanted to do this for ages…a bit like a big kid! It was such a great experience and hey, who needs Carolina Herrera when you can wear a mesh hat instead?!

  40. Charles June 17, 2012 at 00:50 #

    Woowee, that is one seriously large paella pan. I think it’s a pretty cool concept – cooking on such a massive scale like that and everyone gets a plate of the same dish – looks like a whole lot of fun!

    • Chica Andaluza June 17, 2012 at 11:21 #

      And people love it – there are never any leftovers!

  41. fati's recipes June 17, 2012 at 03:01 #

    Wooooooooooooow, this is what I call real cooking! 😉

  42. Sid's cooking again... June 17, 2012 at 14:28 #

    Love the pictures and the process, now you make me want to try making it for one of our weekly lunches. But I only have to cook for around 75 people, so I’ll have to cut down the quantities a little.

  43. Rachel June 17, 2012 at 14:47 #

    Love the photos! Keep ’em coming… after all a picture is worth… well you know 🙂 Mmmm!!!!

  44. mrszeg June 17, 2012 at 17:31 #

    That is by far the largest paella pan I have ever seen! My largest one looks tiny in comparison! This is one of our favorite dishes to make in the summer time, with some variations. Love all the pictures!

    • Chica Andaluza June 18, 2012 at 18:36 #

      You should see some of the ones they use for mega, mega paellas…yo’d ned a lot of muscles to move the rice!

      • mrszeg June 21, 2012 at 01:15 #

        I would love to see that! My largest takes up the top of a round charcoal grill and serves about 25….these make it look tiny!

  45. rsmacaalay June 18, 2012 at 10:10 #

    Wow thats a lot of paella!

  46. sybaritica June 18, 2012 at 20:45 #

    Now *that* is a Paella! Mine pales in comparison 😦

  47. foodblogandthedog June 19, 2012 at 18:23 #

    You must feel very honoured and accepted by the village now that they have let you ( a guiri) touch the paella!! It’s funny I use a mixture of saffron & turmeric in mine too, it gives it that authentic paella colouring brightness, without the god knows what!!

  48. peasepudding June 19, 2012 at 23:08 #

    Wow, that is a marathon coking session, I love making Paella and thought I had a large pan until seeing your pics!

  49. Marianne June 21, 2012 at 08:53 #

    It´s always great to see a huge pan of paella cooking over a wood fire! Yum!

    • Chica Andaluza June 21, 2012 at 09:43 #

      It is fun to see – and more fun to eat! Thanks too for subscribing – hope you continue to enjoy the blog 🙂

  50. Simply Tia June 21, 2012 at 13:04 #

    Truly wonderful experience I’m sure. It bet it was very flavorful.

    • Chica Andaluza June 21, 2012 at 15:21 #

      It was soooo good! And we have plenty more fiestas over the summer, so a few more to be eaten yet 😉

  51. A_Boleyn July 7, 2012 at 17:34 #

    Promenade Claire mentioned your paella so I had to come and take a look. Woah! That’s a lot of paella, Chica.

    You rock the stylish paella making world in your outfit. 🙂

    • Chica Andaluza July 8, 2012 at 10:56 #

      Hey, it´s great to be “groovy”! Despite the outfit, I had a great day 🙂


  1. A chica promenade | Promenade Plantings - July 7, 2012

    […] lovely pressies – beautiful Saffron, I know I’ll be referring to your post on how to cook paella, maybe just not on the scale needed for a village fiesta. I’m also hoping that the headwear […]

  2. Roasted Vegetable & Tuna Salad – For when you´ve been having waaaaay too much fun « Chica Andaluza - October 1, 2012

    […] Tonight though we are at home. After almost a week of eating out our bodies need a rest before a little farewell party tomorrow night in a local bar. Fiesta food is heavy on the meat and protein as it´s all cooked over coals as you wait. Delicious grilled fillets of pork sprinkled with a type of salsa verde, pinchitos (little pork kebabs), jamon and cheese, braised goat and some grilled prawns. Of course, on Sunday we had the village paella. […]

  3. Fideuá with Chorizo and Mushroom | Chica Andaluza - February 18, 2014

    […] dish is made with seafood usually, in the same way as a paella, but I made one recently with some Spanish Chorizo. It’s also a good vegetarian dish – use what […]

  4. Arroz Caldoso con Cangrejo – or Holidays, Romance and Crabs | Chica Andaluza - February 7, 2015

    […] little reminder, if you’re making paella you’ll need 100g of rice per person approximately and for every 100g of rice you need about 210ml […]

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