Paella has been a staple in the cafeteria here at tom-mcgee.com world headquarters for over twenty years. Our crack team of chefs has prepared it more ways than you can think of, and has it pretty much down to a science. But the other week when the Times ran a recipe for grilled paella, they got serious.
The gist of it is that the bulk of the cooking is done more-or-less the traditional Valencian way, over a fire. Back in Spain, a wood fire is traditional, but we can get away with a charcoal grill here. Everything was prepped separately on the stove while the charcoal got going (pre-cook the chicken and sausages, heat the stock) and then after the pan was placed on the grill it all is quickly assembled and some wood chips are tossed onto the coals for the smokey wood taste. Slap the lid on and let it go for thirty minutes.
We were a little nervous. Leaving a pan on the grill without peeking for a half-hour? “Trust us,” the recipe said, so we did.
And the results? Our panel of experts loved it. The top had a lovely maroon-colored glaze from the smoke, there was a nice crunchy crust along the bottom of the pan, and the rice was perfectly cooked. I gave the chef an immediate merit bonus for his fine work, C. thought it was one of the best ever and she’s been eating it her whole life, and special guest E. even had seconds.