After you've decided how many people will be enjoying your paella, and picked the pan, you must decide which cooking technique you will use:
One to Four Servings
If you are cooking a smaller paella up to four servings, you can use your stove top burner, as long as you are able to accurately control the heat.
If you will be preparing a paella for larger groups, you will need a heat source that is large enough to provide even heat to all areas of the pan. If the heat is not even, rice in one area will cook, while rice in another area will not. There are two basic choices:
- Kettle Barbecue: Use a kettle-style charcoal barbecue, which allows you to raise and lower the grill in order to regulate the heat. It is important to be able to regulate the heat, so that the rice cooks, but does not burn. A typical 22-inch barbecue can handle a paella pan up to 23-inches.
- Ringed Gas Burner: Use a gas burner with two or three rings, which allows each ring to be controlled independently. These gas burners are commonly used in Spain to cook outdoors. A two-ring burner with an inner ring of 8-inches and outer ring of 16-inches will cook a paella pan up to 24-inches (19 servings). However, using only the inner ring, cook for 6 using a smaller pan of 13.5-inches. These gas burners require a tripod, and a propane tank with a hose and regulator.
- Char-Broil Gas Paella Burner Review