The Pan That Spawned the Dish

Metal paella pan with red handles

What Is It?

A pan, obviously… specifically, a paella pan (which interestingly enough really means pan pan as the word paella derives from the Latin for pan). Anyhoo, this super wide, lightweight, and shallow pan is used for cooking that beauty of Spanish dishes—paella.

How Does It Work?

Traditionally, paella was (and still is) cooked outdoors over wood fires. So, you need a pan that can take a beating but will also heat up quickly (hence the thinness of the metal). You’ll notice dimples on the surface of the pan. This can help with even heat distribution as you’re not supposed to stir paella whilst it cooks.

You also need something large enough to feed a lot of people because in the early days, paella-cooking was a festive, community affair. This beauty is 15” across, and by no means a large pan. It easily fits on my stovetop. I live in a much more inhospitable climate than Valencia, so I probably won’t get outside to cook paella very often.

Finally, you need something with sturdy handles because paella is typically served from the pan. So, easy removal from the heat source is key.

Do I Really Need It?

Nah. I made a decent paella in one of my every day pans. But, you can’t really beat cooking a dish named for a pan in the pan it was supposed to be cooked in.

Where Can I Buy My Very Own?

Pretty much any retailer of pots and pans. Mine came to me (thanks to lovely cousins in South Carolina) from Spain via Williams-Sonoma. Sometimes, I feel like I should work at W-S. I did a quick search and this exact style pan is sold at any number of online retailers.

Now, we just have to wait for the weather to warm up. And, I’ll get the old Weber grill fired up for some outdoor summer paella fun.


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