We might need to keep the paella rice or warm for many reasons. Either because we have to cook several things at the same time or because our guests are late, the truth is that this can happen. And we don’t want the paella we have been cooking with all our love to arrive cold at the table.
Can you keep paella warm?
The fast answer is yes, you can keep paella and Spanish rice dishes warm but not for much time. In this article, I’m going to reveal some tricks that restaurants use to keep food warm. But no worries, with some modification we can use them at home.
So, here we are some tricks to keep the paella hot until it is served at the table
Leave the paella pan with the heat off
A very effective way to keep food warm is to leave them on the cooker with the heat off. Vitro ceramic retains residual heat, so this is a valid way if the lid remains slightly ajar. The problem is many of you – including me now – may have gas or induction cookers, where residual heat is practically non-existent so this will not be valid (initially).
However, although there is no residual heat, steel paella pans (and less the aluminum ones) keep the heat for a while. Besides, the thicker is the paella pan, the longer they will last warm.
This is the easiest and most used trick in Spain. That is mainly because many times the paella is ready but there are still “tapas” on the table. So, it’s just a matter of leaving the paella pan covered for longer with the heat off.
Keep the paella hot using a bain-marie
It works always, but especially in the case of liquids (such as sauces, soups or creams). The bain-marie allows us to keep the dish warm for a long time, keeping the humidity of the rice from evaporating and the rice from getting overcooked. Besides this, the underneath rice layer doesn’t get burned-on, which is what would happen if we left it on a minimum fire.
Preparing a bain-marie is as simple as submerging the paella pan we want to keep warm in a larger container filled with very hot water, making sure the pan is well covered so that the water doesn’t get inside.
Keeping the paella warm in the oven
An oven would be the homemade alternative to the hot tables used in professional kitchens. They are normally used to maintain the temperature of roasts and fried foods. Thus, we can turn it on at 80ºC (176ºF) or lower (heat up and down) and the tray at mid-height.
The paella pan should be covered, so a good tip is to cover it with aluminum foil with some holes, so the paper will prevent the paella from drying out and the holes will prevent condensation from forming under the paper which would soften the food.
Serve it on hot plates
Another way to make sure that the paella arrives hot at the table is to serve it on hot plates. I’m sure you’ve had your food served to you on a burning plate before in a restaurant. At home, we can do this by preheating the dishes in the oven or washing them in hot water before using them.
My tricks to serve paella rice properly cooked and warm
My recommendation is just not to touch the paella and to let it rest on the cooker with the heat off. However, if you need to keep rice warm for a long time, instead, I encourage you just to reheat the rice, otherwise, you will ruin the rice. I definitely prefer cold rice than warm and overcooked.
If you know in advance the paella will have to be kept warm for long, my definitive recommendation is to pause the paella cooking process before adding the stock. Then, the process will start again from this point at the right moment to be served on time. Just turn the heat on and add the stock as usual.
How long can you keep paella warm?
Keeping paella warm for a long time can ruin it because the rice can get overcooked or the underneath rice layer burned. So, depending on the method used, I would say not more than 40min. In this article you will learn how to keep paella warm safely.
How to keep spanish rice warm for a party?
Paella rice or any other Spanish rice dishes should not be kept warm for log if we want the rice be properly cooked. In the case of a party, and assuming the paella is made more than 40 min before, just reheat the rice before been served. Learn how here
If your paella is already cold, check out my tricks to reheat paella without ruining it.