Rabbit Paella with Artichokes
One of the stars of our Catalan dinner was the Rabbit Paella with Artichokes. Many of the dishes on our menu were Pescatarian, a nod to the thriving fish markets in Barcelona and the whole Catalan region. To balance this out, I wanted to add some meat to our menu. Chicken seemed boring, and I have been cooking a lot of lamb of late, so I decided to go with some game. I couldn’t get my hands on more venison in time, so I decided to go for rabbit.
We were already cooking up some artichokes for our Escalavada, so I wanted to incorporate them into the dish to add some color and create a more nuanced flavor in the sofrito. In Catalan cooking, a sofrito is the flavored base that gives life to the dish, it generally consists of aromatics like garlic, onions, bell peppers, and tomatoes. I added the artichokes…and lets be honest, I ran out of onions so I didn’t use any. but the combination is great!
If you get fresh artichokes, make sure you cut them up into eights, remove the tough outer leaves, trim the stem a bit, and immediately throw them into a bowl of ice water with some lemon juice, I was feeling lazy, so I used canned artichoke hearts …and I am not sorry, I had 15 different dishes to prepare!
Don’t skip the last step of allowing your paella to rest a bit, this allows the flavors to meld and the rice to absorb any extra liquids floating about. This paella requires a 16 inch pan, if you want to make a larger paella, you will need a wider dish, paellas never grow higher, they must grow wider. Also, fight the urge to add more meat or artichokes, a Paella is a rice flavored by rabbit or fish, not a side for the other flavors.
Paella is generally served for lunch, since it is considered a heavy dish. So, it might be faux-pas to serve a paella for dinner…but since we had one meal to summarize the Catalan culinary culture, I decided it was worth it to break the rules. In the end, I find this paella to be fairly light, so I am very happy with it.
Ever since our trip to Barcelona last December, I have been planning and daydreaming about cooking Catalan food for our friends. After a month of menu-planning and experiments, I was ready!
We had a bunch of friends over for a four course Catalan dinner this Saturday, and I think it was one of our best efforts. In traditional Spanish fashion, we did not want to serve the main course until late, so we served the courses slowly and did not finish dessert before midnight. Doesn’t everyone love a good 5 hour dinner every once in a while?
I loved eating Manchengo and Iberico Ham in Barcelona, so I made sure to include them in our first course, with an assortment of olives, of course! We had the opportunity to try a variety of fish stews in Barcelona. The weather was scheduled to be quite chilly this weekend, so a stew sounded just right, I decided to serve it on toasted Ciabatta with our Catalan Sardines on Toast with Susquet. Seafood is a really important element in Catalan dishes, since the Northern Spain region harvests seafood and relies on it.
To keep the seafood starters going, we also served Mussels in Escabeche, a mixture of seafood, veggies, and acid. Delicious!
For our second course, I am proud to say that we hosted our own traditional Calçotada! Calçots are similar to green onions and leeks and are in season in the Catalan region for a short time during the winter. From January to April, Catalans feast and celebrate these mild green onions by grilling them up on a fire and serving them with a delicious Romesco sauce made of fire roasted peppers, tomatoes, almonds, and toasted bread.
Our main course, served at 10:30pm in Spanish fashion was a pretty impressive effort, if I do say so myself. We had a Rabbit and Artichoke Paella, a Squid Ink Rice with Prawns, an Escalivada of beautiful veggies, and Sea Bass roasted in a salt shell served with a delicious citrusy salad of Oranges, Radicchio and Pickled Red Onions.
At midnight, we finished our meal with a traditional Crema Catalana, a Brazo de Gitano filled with Persimmon Jam and Whipped Cream, and a simple but delicious Homemade Fresh Cheese with Honey (Mel & Mato).
I am incredibly proud of this meal and look forward to sharing the rest of the recipes with you in the coming days, so stay tuned and enjoy the Mussels in Escabeche recipe below!
- 1 rabbit, cut into 12 sections
- salt and pepper
- 1/3 cup olive oil or so
- 1 small red bell pepper, cut into 3/4 inch cubes
- 12-14 ounces of artichoke hearts, or four artichokes, quartered
- 4 tomatoes, grated
- 4 cloves garlic, minced
- 8 teaspoons chicken stock concentrate + 8 cups water, separated
- 1 pinch saffron, toasted and crushed up
- 3 cups bomba rice, or another short grained Spanish rice
- Heat olive iul in a 16 inch paella pan.
Season rabbit with salt and pepper.
Sear rabbit pieces, making sure to brown all sides, about 10 minutes.
Once browned, move the rabbit to the edges of the pan and free up the center.
- In the center of the pan, make the sofrito.
Add drained artichokes and bell peppers, cook for 8-10 minutes until softened and a bit browned.
Ad the grated tomatoes, garlic, and a bit of salt and pepper.
Cook until the tomato darkens a bit, another 6-8 minutes.
Check on the rabbit, make sure you aren’t burning any of them. Move them around,
and flip occasionally.
Mix the rabbit into the sofrito and cook for an additional 5 minutes.
- Sprinkle with the paprika.
Add 2 teaspoons of chicken stock concentrate and 2 cups of water.
Simmer until the stock is absorbed and rabbit is tender, about 20-30 minutes.
Add a bit of water as needed to keep it from getting too dry.
- Add the remaining chicken stock concentrate, water, and the saffron.
Bring to a boil.
Sprinkle rice in in an even layer. Make sure all of the rice is below the water.
Do not stir.
Cook on high for 10 minutes.
Reduce heat to low, and cook for an additional 8-10 minutes until liquid is absorbed.
Remove from heat, cover with a damp towel, and let rest for 5-10 minutes.
- Heat olive iul in a 16 inch paella pan.