In the traditional paella Valenciana it’s typical to include snails. If Thumper has been nibbling on your lettuces and flowers you can throw him in as well. And if you live in the Ozarks you can…okay we’re not going that far.
But today at the farmers market I found fresh peas, fresh favas and squash blossoms. Pulled out a can of snails from the pantry and went to work (What? You don’t have snails in your pantry? Grow up!).
Paella is always best cooked outside over lump wood charcoal, like oak. Using briquettes is the ultimate stigma of total wimpola-ness. Alternatively you can cook the paella on a gas cooktop. Use any other fuel and you won’t get the crisp, slightly burnt and delicious socarrat at the bottom.
1 cup shelled fresh peas
shelled fava beans, blanched and skins removed
¼ cup chopped spring onion (if you have a source for ramps by all means include those)
7 ounce can helix snails
¼ cup diced cooked ham or better still, Spanish style chorizo
4 or 5 squash blossoms (optional)
2 cloves garlic slivered
½ cup short grain rice (bomba preferred)
3 cup chicken stock
1 generous pinch of saffron threads
Extra virgin olive oil (it’s not EVOO, the use of which term constitutes another tell-tale marker for early onset wimpola-ness)
Heat up your chicken stock and when it comes just to a boil add the saffron threads. Keep to the side on low heat.
Drain the snails. If they are very large you might want to slice them in half.
Coat the bottom of your paella pan with olive oil. Add the garlic and allow that to color. The Spanish don’t mind if it’s slightly browned.
Add the snails and the ham or chorizo. The latter should just begin to color.
Add the rice and push around with a wooden spoon. As with a risotto the rice should become slightly translucent.
Add the simmering stock and push around some more. Add the fresh peas and beans. Once this is bubbling away top with the squash blossoms if using and cover with a lid. Unlike risotto a paella is not stirred, otherwise you wouldn’t develop the socarrat.
Season with salt and replace the lid. Total cooking time should be about 25 to 30 minutes. Don’t lift the lid too often.
Standup commis flâneur, and food historian. Pierino's background is in Italian and Spanish cooking but of late he's focused on frozen desserts. He is now finishing his cookbook, MALAVIDA! Can it get worse? Yes, it can. Visit the Malavida Brass Knuckle cooking page at Facebook and your posts are welcome there.