Freddy’s Catalan Paella

Catalunyans say this dish represents the produce from the mar i montanya (sea to the mountain), all in one pan. It was mother’s day, a special celebratory day that such a dish deserves. On this day I covered a lot of ground sourcing my ingredients in Sydney that it felt like I had been to the sea, the mountain and back. I was lucky to find farmed whole rabbits from the Snowy Mountains at Hudson Meats, Rose Bay. From there I dashed back to the Sydney CBD for some bomba rice at Encasa Deli. I had the sea covered with a beautiful piece of salted cod I had purchased the previous week. For the past two days, it was a real centerpiece in my fridge, bathing in a tray of water, cleaning the harsh salt that had preserved this beautiful well traveled fish.

For this paella recipe, you need to concentrate on the cooking and not be distracted. So remind your friends and family to leave you to your arroz en paella, which in Spanish means ‘rice cooked in a paella pan’. Glass of red in hand, you are now all set for this symbolic Catalonian paella.

Ingredients (serves 6)

500g salt cod, soaked in cold water for 48 hours, changing the water twice per day
140 ml olive oil
1 garlic bulb
1 bunch thyme
1.2 kg farmed rabbit, cut into 10 pieces
1 red capsicum, seeded and membranes removed, cut into 1 cm pieces
1 green capsicum, seeded and membranes removed, cut into 1 cm pieces
4 ripe Roma tomatoes, peeled and chopped
400g bomba rice
1.2 ltr rabbit stock

Preparation

  1. Drain the salt cod, cut the flesh into six equal portions, cover and refrigerate.
  2.  Add 80 ml of the olive to the paella pan and cook the whole garlic clove until blackened. Remove the garlic and add half of the thyme to the pan. Cook for 1 minute, remove and discard.
  3. Add the rabbit pieces to the pan, season well, and cook until well browned. Transfer the rabbit to a pot, reserving the oil in the paella pan. Add enough water to cover the rabbit, bring to the boil, reduce heat to medium and simmer for 30 minutes.
  4. Remove the rabbit from the pot, strain the stock, reserving 1.2 liters and keep it hot.
  5. Start the sofrito, add the remaining oil to the paella pan, add the onion and saute for 5 minutes, or until lightly browned. Add the capsicum and cook for 15 minutes, until soft. Season to taste, then add tomatoes, cook for another 15. minutes, regularly stirring to avoid ingredients sticking to the pan. What you want is a sofrito that has a jam-like consistency.
  6. Add the rice and stir for 2 minutes, or until well coated and almost translucent. Pour in the rabbit stock, wait until in comes to a boil, add the rabbit, cod, remaining thyme, evenly over the rice. Reduce the heat to medium, allow the ingredients to cook for 17 minutes, and make sure not to stir the rice, basically don’t touch, let the magic begin.
  7. Remove the pan from the heat, cover with a cloth and allow it to rest. By the time your friends and family get to the table and open a bottle of Albariño, it should be ready to serve.

Enjoy and as they would say in Catalunya – visca catalunya!

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