Alternative uses for overpriced cookware: Paella Pan

3/01/2009 04:14:00 AM

As you may recall, my family's expensively bought paella pan is more often used for roasting chicken than making paella. I'm not quite sure why we bought it, seeing as we'd never made paella at home... perhaps my mum bought it in the hope that I'd start cooking it for her. I have cooked paella ONCE, but only very recently. And it was a decidedly inauthentic version. Our pan is non-stick, which I'm told defeats the purpose of a paella pan anyway, because the non-stick surface prevents you from getting the requisite crunchy base. Oh well.

The paella pan, however, does make a great roasting dish, and is nice enough for presentation. It was gathering dust for a good 6 months before I figured out what to do with it. I'm sure I can't be the only food-lover in this predicament... can I?

(BTW, I know many foodies have big, expensive tangines [sic] knocking about their cupboards... How popular were they in '07??? I am soo glad I avoided that craze.)

But back to the paella pan.

The first picture in this post is of a Nigel Slater-style roast chicken - full of lemon and thyme, and with the potatoes roasted in the same pan for chicken-fat flavour. (This tastes nicer than it sounds). Cooked this way, the potatoes don't have the perfect crunch of separately cooked goosefat roast potatoes, but have a most alluring sticky and flavourful crust.

The chicken below was cooked in the paella pan, but transferred it to a Nigella Lawson Living Kitchen egg-shaped serving platter (another overpriced cookware indulgence, but I couldn't help myself). This is Ludi's Chicken, from Tessa Kiros' Falling Cloudberries.

The chicken and potatoes are all cooked in the one pan, with generous amounts of lemon, garlic, white wine and seedy mustard. The potatoes here are soft, rather than crunchy or crusty, but delicious all the same.

Finally we have the paella-pan used to cook rice. The non-stick surface and wide area make it great for cooking fluffy soft rice without having it get crusty at the base (again, making it unsuitable for actual paella). This recipe is a fabulous homestyle Peruvian Chicken with Coriander and Spinach Rice, another from Falling Cloudberries.

It is a little fiddly, but not too difficult. You start off by browning chicken, and setting it to the side. Then you cook some vegetables in the same pan, with spices and a purée of spinach and coriander. Following this you return the chicken to the pan with some water, and simmer it for 15 minutes for the chicken to cook and absorb the flavours. Then you set the chicken to the side, add rice and water to the pan and simmer it (uncovered, then covered) until cooked through. Ta-dah!

Tessa suggests serving it with cumin'd yoghurt and chillies in oil. It was amazing! My family totally loves one-pot rice meals.

So far I have used that pan 3 times for chicken, and once for paella. Does anyone have any other ideas for ways we could use it???

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  1. No ideas for the pan, but I was wondering about that Peruvian dish, you make it sound decidedly appealing!

    Tagines are beautiful! But you're right, you could make a tagine in any old Le Creuset. I have a hand-painted one, but it's unsutiable for cooking *rolling eyes*

  2. Anonymous7:48 AM

    Have you done a Zuni Cafe roast chicken? It seriously is the best ever.

  3. Julie - The Peruvian chicken is deelicious! Do you have Falling Cloudberries?

    You're right, tagines are beautiful - but it's so hard to find a beautiful one that you can cook in too. And I've cooked a tagine (stew) maybe once in my life, lol.

    Meleyna - I haven't tried it yet, but I just googled it and it looks great! The bread salad that accompanies it sounds delish too. :D

    xox Sarah

  4. What about massive fritatas/omelettes, giant sized panackes, pizza in a pan cooked over the stove (saw that on some TV show in the motel here yesterday) and finally, massive french toasts?

  5. Well I don't have a paella pan (my kitchen itself is about the size of a paella pan) but I do have one of those massive egg shaped dishes which gets used about once a year at Christmas...but it's soo pretty :) I've been meaning to "get into" Tessa Kiros for ages but all her books are so expensive here and I never know where to start...but I love the look of that chicken and rice dish :)

  6. Use it as a centrepiece holder. You know, when you have crazy fruit and etc, arrange it on the pan.

    I remember doing that with something similar at my friend's place when we came back from the market and ran out of storage space.

    Her mother never noticed.

    That's all I gots.

  7. could i pleease be cheeky and have the recipe for the peruvian dish,im pregnant and luurve rice at the mo and this got my taste buds watering xxxx

  8. Caroline2:54 PM

    I thought great for cheeses and fruit and biscuits after a meal. The handles make it rather fun for carrying around a group at a party as well



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