Friday, February 1, 2013
That Wascally Wabbit - Hare Braising Adventures
Well, dinner actually. I'm starting to see more rabbit for sale in butcher shops. I cooked my first rabbit about 10 years ago, after dispatching the muncher of my garden despite my best efforts to keep him out other ways. I don't waste meat. So Mr. Rabbit was added to a stew pot. He was surprisingly tasty.
It tastes like chicken? Seriously, it does. But rabbit is MUCH lower in fat than chicken and domestic meat rabbits as an all white meat source, have a MUCH higher protein content. Rabbit is a great option for the chef in search of a lean and natural meat that's less expensive than red meat and tastes great when prepared properly.
But you're killing Bugs! Sorry, rabbits, indeed are cute, but they are not great pets and wild ones can do millions of dollars in agricultural damage every year. Even domesticated rabbits are nocturnal and natural burrowers, wanting only to dig and gnaw your carpet until they can find a dark corner to hide. For every 6 million rabbits that are kept as pets, many who live lonely lives in cages, there's over 8 million in the US alone used yearly for food. They're bred and tended to like other meat sources, cows, lamb, pig.
Are they free range? That, folks, is what they call hawk snacks. But the meat that is available here at Moody's Butcher Shop is antibiotic free and commercially raised, tended and harvested humanely.
This rabbit? Well, this one didn't come from the store. It succumbed to .. .uh. . lead poisoning. It was still pretty darn tasty. The recipe is a HOTR adaption of a rabbit recipe from my Canadian friend and avid hunter and cook, Marty.
If using a wild rabbit, place cleaned/dressed rabbit in well salted water over night in your fridge to soak. Handle the rabbit like chicken - wear gloves or wash between handling and other chores. Cook thoroughly.
Most rabbits you get at the butcher come whole, so you will need to cut them into serving portions. You'll want a serious knife. You may want a cleaver. A chain saw is overkill. Start by cutting the two back legs (thigh and leg) off, then the top third of the rabbit, consisting of the front legs and chest cavity. This leaves the middle section which is known as the saddle. Split the chest cavity and cut the saddle into two pieces. This will serve 2-3 people.
Season the meat with salt and pepper. Brown rabbit in bacon fat over medium high with 3-4 cloves chopped garlic. Remove to a roasting dish or pot.
Coarsely chop a green pepper, a parsnip, and a medium onion.
Parsnips? Yes, a much overlooked root veggie, parsnips are sweet and starchy and sort of look like albino carrots run amok. Ignoring them seems to be a modern American thing. The Irish liked to brew parsnip beer, the English made wine out of them in the 19th century, and Italian farmers who raise pigs for that oh so incredible Parma prosciutto are know to feed the animals parsnips to give the meat a natural sweetness. (I find my prosciutto at Goose the Market, somewhere near the lamb and jowl bacon).
Choose parsnips that are medium sized and have a firm, unblemished, beige skin. Before cooking, wash the exterior, peel and cut off the top and bottom. They keep well, stored like most root veggies.
Saute the veggies in the same pan and remaining bacon grease as the rabbit, until softened and just starting to brown. Remove to same the dish. De glaze the saute pan with one cup of good white wine and a good splash of Balsamic Vinegar, scrapping up any browned bits. Reduce by letting it come to a simmer for a minute or two, remove from heat and add one cup of fresh tomato sauce or chopped tomatoes with liquid, some ground pepper, 2 bay leaves, 1/2 teaspoon tarragon, a spring of fresh thyme and a tiny dash of fresh lemon juice. Pour over the rabbit and veggies and cook covered in 300 degree oven for about 2 and and a half hours, checking and adding a tablespoon or two of liquid halfway through if it needs it. Serve with whole grain rice or side of your choice and the rest of your wine.
That's all folks!