Slideshow: Watch Ken Oringer and Jamie Bissonette Make Rabbit and Snail Paella at Toro

Rabbit and Snail Paella
Rabbit and Snail Paella

Tender braised rabbit, wild Burgundy snails, carrots, sunchokes, and rice in this modern version of the traditional paella Calenciana, which despite its modern chicken-and-shellfish connotation, started off as a dish of rice cooked with rabbit, beans, and small snails known as vaquetes.

Oil
Oil

The paella starts with a mixture of canola and extra-virgin olive oil. Normally it gets cooked over a large gas flame, but today Jamie was working on an induction burner installed next to the open plancha station in the back of the restaurant.

Scallions
Scallions

Several aromatics are added in quick succession, starting with scallion bottoms.

Carrots and sunchokes
Carrots and sunchokes

Roughly diced, un-skinned carrots and sunchokes are added, which Jamie then seasons with salt.

Garlic and sofrito
Garlic and sofrito

Spanish sofrito is a strongly reduced tomato-based mixture. Toro makes theirs with tomatoes and onions. Fresh garlic is also added to sauté.

Jamie seasons the paella
Jamie seasons the paella

After adding calasparra rice, Jamie seasons the mixture with salt and pepper.

Stock
Stock

Once the rice is toasted, Jamie adds a mixture of chicken stock and the braising liquid from the rabbit that will be added later. The braising mixture is aromatic with pimentón de la vera, which adds its unique sweet, smoky flavor.

Rabbit
Rabbit

"A traditional rabbit paella would have chunks of rabbit that get cooked right in the pan," says Chef Ken Oringer. For Toro's version, the rabbit is slow-cooked separately and added in moist shreds. The same rabbit is used to make their rabbit terrine.

Snails
Snails

The snails are wild Burgundy snails canned in France from Henri Maire. Large, meaty, and clean, these are some of the most prized snails you can get.

Boil
Boil

Unlike a risotto, which is cooked at a gentle simmer and stirred frequently, a paella is cooked at a rapid boil with no stirring. The bubbling helps agitate the rice and release its starch to thicken up the broth into a creamy liquid, all while it develops a crunchy browned soccarat on its base—the most prized part of the dish.

Testing
Testing

Jamie pokes the rice occasionally to taste it for doneness and monitor the development of the soccarat.

Garnish
Garnish

As it nears completion, Jamie scatters some mint over the surface. Normally they use nepitalla (calamint), though today it was standard spearmint.

Dig in
Dig in

The large-format dish is big enough to easily feed four hungry diners. It's also available in a smaller version that feeds two to three.

Scraping the soccarat
Scraping the soccarat
"Is it weird that with all this awesome stuff in here the carrots are the most appealing thing to me?" asks Jamie. The carrots are great, but the best part is obviously the crunchy browned crust at the bottom of the pan. The paella comes served family style at the table with a wooden spoon to make scraping it up easy.