Wednesday, December 09, 2009

Rabbit and artichoke paella


The past month has seen me spend little time in the kitchen. I've been struck down with two tummy bugs which seemed extremely unfair. I'm just getting over the second one and after five days of consuming nothing but dry toast, mashed potato and plain pasta, I'm finally hankering after something a little more interesting (...and nutritious!)


Back in September, the flower-sender celebrated his birthday. Like me, he is a fairly keen cook and one of his signature dishes is paella. Until earlier this year, I had never enjoyed a paella. I can't eat shellfish and as all paellas seemed to involve mussels or prawns or clams, I assumed it was a treat I'd ever enjoy. How wrong I was. On an early date, the flower-sender wowed me with a special shellfish-free paella made with monkfish, chorizo and a variety of vegetables. This delicious dish now makes a fairly regular appearance in our household. His only complaint was that he didn't really have the right equipment to make an 'authentic' paella. So, for his birthday, I decided to invest in a proper paella pan. I chose a kit including special 'La Bomba' paella rice, saffron, pimento and other bits for making the perfect paella. I also invested in a book all about the famous Spanish dish.

The book is actually really rather interesting - much of it talks of the techniques and tools required to make a good paella and the other half is full of great recipes. What interested me most was the number of these which did not contain shellfish, or even fish for that matter. I was allowed to choose the first recipe cooked in the new pan and selected an interesting sounding rabbit and artichoke paella.

This really worked very well - it was delicious. The rabbit was moist and tender and the rice perfectly textured and flavoursome. The only problem we had was the instruction that we shouldn't stir the paella. This was not really a goer as the food soon started to burn on the bottom of the pan. We eventually added more stock but unfortunately a few burnt bits did make their way into the finished dish (...as you'll see from the photos).

We asked the butcher to joint the rabbit for us and halved the recipe. We also used chargrilled artichoke hearts rather than preparing our own fresh artichokes, so I've adapted the recipe to take this into account. Make sure you hang onto the rabbit's liver - pounded together with almonds, it makes a delicious addition to the paella (although it was so delicious I almost ate it all before we got to the stage of pounding it in the pestle and mortar).

Please excuse the 'wide-screen' nature of the photos. New camera and I'd hit the wrong setting by accident!

Paella de conejo y alchachofas
(Paella with rabbit and artichokes)
From 'La Paella' by Jeff Koehler
Serves 6

1 whole rabbit, cut into 12 pieces, keep the liver
6 tbsp olive oil
6 artichoke hearts (we used ready cooked hearts and washed off as much preserving oil as possible)
1 red bell pepper, cored and chopped into 1-inch square pieces
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
4 medium ripe tomatoes
1 tsp sweet pimenton
8 cups chicken stock
2 pinches saffron threads
3 cups short-grain rice (buy special paella rice or look for a brand such as La Bomba)
handful of tomatoes
handful of chopped parsley

1. Toast the saffron to release extra flavour. Do this in a dry saucepan until the saffron starts to change colour and then crumble onto a piece of paper (or pound with a pestle and mortar).

2. Season the rabbit with plenty of salt and pepper. In a large paella pan (or large wide saucepan), heat the oil and brown the rabbit for around 5 minutes, along with the rabbit liver. Set aside.

3. Pound the rabbit liver with a handful of almonds in a pestle and mortar and set to one side.

3. Grate the tomatoes. To do this, cut the tomatoes in half, remove seeds with your finger and grate on the widest setting on a stand-up grater. Discard the remaining skin.

4. Cook the pepper in the pan over a medium heat for 5 mins. Add the garlic and tomatoes and a couple of pinches of salt and cook until the tomato starts to darken (about 5 minutes). Return the rabbit to the pan along with any juices and cook for another 5 minutes. This base is called the 'sofrito'. According to the author, it should look 'pasty' at this stage (...though I'm not sure how pieces of rabbit can look pasty!).

5. Sprinkle in the pimenton and stir to combine. The add the chicken stock, bring to a simmer and simmer for 10 minutes. Add the artichoke hearts.

6. Sprinkle in the saffron. Taste and add seasoning if required. Increase heat to high and bring liquid to a boil. Sprinkle in the rice and with a wooden spoon, push rice to ensure it is evenly distributed.

7. Do not stir again but cook, uncovered for 10 minutes over a high heat. After 10 minutes, reduce the heat to low and cook for an additional 8 minutes, or until the liquid is absorbed and the rice is 'al punto' (with a slight bite to it).

8. Remove paella from heat, sprinkle over the ground rabbit liver/almond mixture, cover with paper towels and leave to rest for five minutes.



9. Before serving, sprinkle with chopped parsley.

12 comments:

Kerri said...

Urgh, I had a stomach bug a couple of weeks ago which was horrible so I can't imagine how you must feel having had two :(

I love the sound of your paella, really unusual and different. I've tried a couple of recipes but haven't ever found one that's been brilliant, I feel an Amazon purchase coming on!

Bellini Valli said...

With or without seafood saffron infised rice is going to be up there for me.

cookeaze said...

Very nice post! A great recipe and good information about rabbits. I haven't cooked with it in a long while, your recipe just inspired me to go out and buy some.

Caitlin said...

I love the sound of this - rabbit and artichoke together sounds like a match made in heaven! Rabbit isn't easy to find in San Francisco though.

Nora said...

I used to live in Valencia, home of the paella, where I discovered the traditional Valencian paella isn't with fish - it's with rabbit and big white beans. So actually you're having the more authentic version! I also heard this thing about not stirring the rice, but have always found it easier said than done. Anyway, your paella looks and sounds delicious!

David Hall said...

Merry Christmas Antonia, all the best for 2010

Cheers
David x

Ciber said...

I've been following your blog for quite a while and enjoying your wealth of good recipes. When Foodista announced that they are going to publish the best food blogs in a full color book that will be published by Andrews McMeel Publishing Fall 2010, I naturally thought of you. This recipe would be a good submission! You can enter here: http://www.foodista.com/blogbook/submit

Cheers,
Melissa

melissa@foodista.com
Editor and Community Developer
Foodista.com -- The Cooking Encyclopedia Everyone Can Edit

Ciber said...

I've been following your blog for quite a while and enjoying your wealth of good recipes. When Foodista announced that they are going to publish the best food blogs in a full color book that will be published by Andrews McMeel Publishing Fall 2010, I naturally thought of you. This recipe would be a good submission! You can enter here: http://www.foodista.com/blogbook/submit

Cheers,
Melissa

melissa@foodista.com
Editor and Community Developer
Foodista.com -- The Cooking Encyclopedia Everyone Can Edit

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Anh said...

What a great recipe!! I would love to try it :)

Su-Lin said...

What a gorgeous paella! Definitely a good way to use frozen artichoke hearts (that I'm now finding in the freezers in shops).

Dinners and Dreams said...

I just made paella a few weeks ago. I've always loved it. Yours looks delicious!

Nisrine