Hunter's Paella

October 21, 2010
Author Notes

Tis the season. I often equate the areas around the Pyrenees as having a long tradition of game hunting. From birds like partridge and quail to wild boar. It also seems that all countries have a blood sausage tradition. Well you can see where I am going with this. Let me just say there is something about bird hunting in the pine forests of southern Indiana for ruffed grouse that is like no other to me. The only thing that beats faster than the wings of a Ruffed Grouse is your heart as it pumps adrenaline clear up to the tip of your trigger finger. You have to be Jesse James fast because the bird will cross the pine rows and be gone. I always figured if you bagged ten of these birds in a life time you were a great hunter. In the case of this paella if you are not a hunter or don't like wild game cornish game hens would be a perfectly acceptable substitution and in fact I am going to write the recipe that way. The picture above is a pheasant from a hunting trip to South Dakota. —thirschfeld

  • Serves 4
  • olive oil
  • 1 cornish game hen, pheasant or other game bird, but not duck, quarted, back removed
  • 4 thin slices of applewood smoked bacon
  • 1 to 2 boudin noir, failing that chorizo, cut into 4 pieces
  • 2 onions, julienned, about 2 cups
  • 1/4 cup pepitas
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons aleppo pepper
  • 2 teaspoons ancho chile powder
  • 1 tablespoon dried Mexican oregano, crumbled
  • 1 teaspoon cumin seed, ground
  • 1/2 cup white wine
  • 2 granny smith apples, small dice
  • 1 handful of cilantro, minced, about a 1/2 cup
  • 3 1/4 cups chicken stock
  • 1 1/2 cups arborio rice
  • kosher salt and fresh ground pepper
In This Recipe
  1. Season each of the four pieces of game hen with salt and pepper then wrap each quarter with a piece of bacon.
  2. Place a 14 inch paella pan or saute pan over medium high head and add the oil. Place each piece of game hen skin side down and brown the pieces. Turn and brown the other side. You want to cook these long enough that they are close to done. Remove the pieces to a plate. Do the same with the blood sausage.
  3. Add another glug of olive oil and add the onions. Turn down the heat if necessary and cook them until they begin to brown.
  4. Add the pepitas, the aleppo pepper, Mexican oregano, cumin ancho powder and 1/4 cup of the cilantro. Stir and once it becomes fragrant add the rice. Stir to coat the rice with oil and then add the apples and wine. Let the wine reduce and then add the stock. Season with a teaspoon of salt and fresh ground pepper.
  5. Place the chicken attractively on top and bring the whole thing to a boil. Then reduce the heat to medium and let the rice gently bubble. Nestle the sausage into the rice. Keep an eye on the liquid making sure it isn't reducing to fast. If the rice is was crunchy and the liquid almost gone add a half a cup more of stock.
  6. Check to see that the chicken, this should take about 20 to 25 minutes, is done and that the rice is tender. A crust should have on the bottom. Remove from the heat and let the whole thing rest for 3 to 5 minutes. Garnish with the remaining cilantro and serve.
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Father, husband, writer, photojournalist and not always in that order.