Take Your Paella To The Grill For A Delicious Twist On The Classic

overhead of paella in pan on table
overhead of paella in pan on table - Fortyforks/Shutterstock

Originally consumed at lunchtime by workers in the Spanish city of Valencia, paella is in a class of its own. The undeniably savory Mediterranean comfort food dish is deliciously comprised of earthy and sweet saffron rice, vegetables, and your choice of proteins — though tradition strongly suggests chicken and rabbit — and modern paella recipes almost always feature spicy sausage and shellfish such as mussels, clams, and shrimp. With its rich flavors and unique texture, it's frankly a worldwide treasure. In fact, paella is so beloved that its original iteration, "Paella Valenciana," carries national protection in Spain to ensure the sanctity of the recipe and the traditional method of cooking it.

But there are many exciting ways to kick this flavorful one-pan dish up a notch, and one of them is by cooking your paella on a grill. That's right, with a little prep, you can throw that paella pan on the grill for a seriously smoky twist.

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How To Cook Paella On The Grill

paella cooking over a fire
paella cooking over a fire - JGA/Shutterstock

Cooking paella on the grill is easier than it sounds. For a delicious paella with a smoky charcoal flavor, you can use a barbecue grill, fire pit, or even a campfire — and a hearty serving of paella in the middle of the woods will unquestionably put the "glam" in glamping. But one of the keys to making paella on the grill is using the right pan. If you don't have a paella pan, use a skillet or roasting pan. Your pan should be wide and shallow so you can spread your rice layer evenly, ensuring consistent flavor throughout. Heat your grill for about five minutes, then simply place your pan onto the grill. Prepare your paella as usual, cooking with no lid and staggering your proteins (if using shrimp, be sure to add it in the last five minutes of cooking so it doesn't get overcooked), and make sure you watch the heat. The smoke will envelop your pan and infuse your paella with a seriously delicious flavor.

You can use a gas grill, too. Admittedly, your paella won't achieve the same dramatic smoky aroma or flavor, but the benefits of using a gas grill will be apparent in its even, consistent heating and your ability to control the heat more easily. Additionally, gas grills require significantly less prep. Just heat your grill to medium-high for about 15 minutes before cooking.

Other Tips For A Delicious Paella

bowl of paprika on a table
bowl of paprika on a table - Synergee/Getty Images

Whether you cook your paella on a grill or the stovetop, there are many secrets to making it a dish to sing about. According to Michelin Star Chef Danny Lledo -- a Valencia native -- one of the keys to a great paella is choosing the right rice, and he recommends Bomba rice, a short-grained white rice local to the region, due to its versatility. But the key to cooking great rice for paella is to cook it on high for the first 10 minutes, then medium for the next seven, and then back on high for the last minute so that the rice can cook down with the broth and form that crusty, caramelized bottom layer -- the socarrat -- which is essential to a good paella.

And, equally importantly, after you've added your rice to the pan, be sure you don't stir it. Stirring your rice while cooking paella will not only spoil the consistency of the broth, but it can also prevent the delicious crust from forming on the bottom of the pan, which is one of the characteristics that make paella, well ... paella. And don't forget to add your seasonings — paprika and saffron add a signature flavor paella can't do without.

Read the original article on Daily Meal.