Cooking Paella over an open fire

Cooking paella over a wooden fire is great fun and the most traditional way of cooking - its also easier than you might think

Generally the paella pan is supported over the fire by a wrought iron tripod. These sit within the fire and keep the pan around 30cm off the ground. If you have a large or shallow fire pit they may also fit in these. The open fire tripod stands are normally quite a lot smaller than the base of the pan. They just need to be of a sufficient diameter to keep the pan stable.

Apart from the normal safety precautions you would take when working with an open fire, here are the other tips to get you cooking:

  • First of all ensure you have enough space around your tripod and pan to be able to add more wood or rake out the embers. This is how you regulate the heat. If you are using a fire pit also make sure there is enough room around the pan to allow air to get to the fire and the pan is not "snuffing" it out.
  • The pan needs to be level, so before you start with the fire level up the tripod and pan.
  • Ensure the wood used is not tainted by paint or creosote.
  • Use small bits of wood that will burn down quickly - Traditionally Orange branches are used, but are a bit difficult to find in the UK!
  • Have all your ingredients & stock prepared as the first stage of paella cooking is quite quick.
  • Start with a medium fire when cooking your meat or fish.
  • Build up the fire when the stock is in (the flames can be licking around the side of the pan).
  • When the rice is starting to show through, let the fire die down or rake out to only embers showing for the last stages.
  • The pan is quite low to the ground, so using a long handled skimmer spoon makes things easier.
  • Finally, don't panic !