Most of the times when I’ve had paella in a restaurant or made it myself, it has always contained seafood. But there are also paella recipes without seafood, like this one from Alicante with rabbit and snails. Eva of KitchenInspirations visited Europe this winter (to escape the much colder winter in Canada) she let me know she’d also be visiting Amsterdam. As I love connecting with food bloggers from all over the world, I invited her and her husband to dinner.
We had a lovely evening together and we can’t wait to visit them in Canada. From her blog I already knew that Eva is a great cook and writer, and it did not come as a surprise that she and her husband are also great company. I had prepared squid with lentils and salmon roe for them, as well as sea bass and pistachio ravioli with a scampi ragù, sea bass with triple fennel, and goat cheese with Sancerre. Eva had brought a lot of goodies from Spain, including saffron. So this post is not about what I cooked for her, but what I made with one of the goodies she had brought. Mentioning their visit has been long overdue, but I have been blogging a lot less due to Corona. You’d think I have more time to blog, but because I blog in the same room as where I am working from home, when I’m done working it is not appealing to stay in the same room even longer to blog.
So to be clear, I did not in fact make this paella for Eva and John. As always with paella and risotto, the quality of the stock determines the quality of the dish. In this case, I used the bones of the rabbit to make the stock.
For 4 servings
4 rabbit backs
300 grams (1 1/2 cups) bomba rice, or risotto rice
pinch of saffron threads
1 can of snails, rinsed and drained
1 can of cooked chickpeas (garbanzo beans), rinsed and drained
250 ml (1 cup) sieved tomatoes
2 onions, 1 chopped and 1 minced
1 stick celery, chopped
1 carrot, chopped
1 red bell pepper, in strips
salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 clove garlic, minced
2 Tbsp minced fresh rosemary
extra virgin olive oil
Debone the rabbit meat and separate the fat from the meat. Reserve bones and fat.
Put the rabbit bones in a stock pot or pressure cooker with 2 litres (8 cups) of water, the chopped onion, the chopped carrot, and chopped celery. Simmer for 3 hours or pressure cook for 90 minutes, then sieve the stock and reduce it to 1 litre (4 cups). For more flavor, roast the rabbit bones first for half an hour in the oven at 190C/375F, and deglaze the roasting pan with the water that will be used for the stock. I skipped that step, but I shouldn’t have because the stock was not as flavorful as I would have liked it to be.
In a pan suitable to make the paella, render the fat from the reserved rabbit fat. (Alternatively, you could use extra virgin olive oil.)
Cook the rabbit fat over medium heat until the fat has rendered from it…
…and then remove the rabbit cracklings with a strainer and discard them (or season them with salt and snack on them).
Slice the rabbit meat into cubes and season with salt and freshly ground black pepper.
Brown the rabbit meat over high heat until golden in the rendered rabbit fat.
Once the rabbit meat is nicely golden on all sides, remove it from the pan with a strainer and set aside. The rabbit will still be raw inside and will finish cooking later. Rabbit dries out easily, so we don’t want to overcook it.
To the same pan add the minced onion…
…and stir over medium heat until soft, about 5 minutes.
Add the bell pepper strips and stir over medium heat for 5 more minutes.
Add the minced garlic and minced rosemary, and stir for another minute.
Combine the saffron threads with some hot stock in a small bowl and stir. (It is actually better to pound the saffron to a powder in a mortar and pestle first.)
Add the chickpeas…
…and the sieved tomato…
…and the rice…
…and 1 litres (4 cups) of stock…
…and the saffron-infused stock. Season with salt and stir to mix.
Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat, and allow to simmer, uncovered, for 15 minutes.
After those 15 minutes, add the rabbit and snails.
Stir to mix. Taste and adjust the seasoning with salt and freshly ground black pepper.
Allow to rest over low heat without stirring for 5-10 minutes until the rabbit has been cooked through, the snails have heated through, all of the stock has been absorbed, and a crispy layer has formed at the bottom.
This crispy layer is called socarrat and is very tasty. It should be browned and crispy but not burnt. The paella is now ready to be served.
We really loved the seafood dishes in Taiwan during our travels, like this stir fried squid with Thai basil and ginger.