• Posted by Califia Suntree on November 15th, 2006, 5:07 PM

    i made my maiden voyage into paella-land … it was pretty easy! particularly if you have fish-head broth already on hand … the one we made was with bunny and squid. of course, you could make it with pretty much anything with fur, feathers, or fins and have delectable results. that is most likely why the dish is so popular: whatever bits you have at hand are made hearty and special by a bit of saffron and a base of brothy rice. that, and the fact that you can (with enough skill) make an enormous paella in a pan the size of a dining room table, and feed the whole town out of one dish.

    try a purely oceanic one with various fish and shellfish; a “mountain” paella of chicken and chorizo; or surf-and-turf, like this one. the only thing to remember is that it’s *all about the broth.* tasty broth will in most cases mean tasty paella. salty, MSG-laden packaged broth will make for salty, MSG-laden rice. francesc and amy save and freeze all of the heads and odd parts of the whole fishes that they buy. when they have a bagful, they boil them up with some salt, onion or garlic, and whetever vegetables are on hand. then, you can either freeze that broth or use it right away. i recommend straining first, although francesc likes the fish-head bits to go into the paella … similarly, making your own chicken or vegetable broth is worth the (tiny) effort. i’ll be making lots of paella when i come back to america. suggestions for good sources of fresh bunny are welcome! (aside from pet stores.)

    paella de conejo y calamar
    (serves 4 as a first course, 3 as a main)

    olive oil
    salt & pepper
    1/4 of a rabbit, such as thigh and ribs
    about 3/4 lb.large squid (legs and bodies), sliced
    1/2 leek (white and pale green parts only), sliced
    1 small onion, chopped
    2 cups short-grain rice
    4 cups (or more) *hot* fish broth
    pinch of saffron

    in your paella pan, or any wide, shallow pan with a lid, heat a tiny splash of olive oil over high flame. season the rabbit and squid with salt and pepper. when the oil is hot, sear the rabbit until well browned all over. remove to a plate and add the squid to the pan and brown quickly. remove the squid to the rabbit plate. pour a generous splash of oil in the pan and reduce the heat a bit. add the leek and onion and sautee for a few minutes, then add the rice. stir and cook for about 2 minutes. add the squid and rabbit to the pan, stir it a bit, and then pour in 4 cups of broth. (try dissolving the saffron in the hot broth before you pour it in. otherwise, add the safron before you add the rice.) when it starts to boil, reduce the heat to very low, partially cover the pan and let it cook for 15 minutes. all of the broth should be absorbed and the rice just cooked. turn off the heat, cover the pan and let it sit for 5 minutes. (no more!)

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