Friday, April 26, 2013

Rabbit Stew


Rabbit Stew

I have returned from my trip to Vermont, and I had even more fun than I could have hoped for. And while I did come home with a terrible case of jet lag and was barely able to peel myself off the floor of my shower enough to slouch myself into bed, it was more than worth the incessant dizziness. I will be posting about it all soon (along with a tasty pie recipe!), but for now I am just going to talk about rabbit. Yes, rabbit. That adorable yet tasty mammal that much of the world eats but is fairly uncommon in most American kitchens. I grew up eating rabbit a few times a year because my mother loved rabbit and my father had some tasty Greek recipes for it tucked away, including this one. He grew up on a pistachio farm on the small island of Aegina, Greece. His family lead a very simple life and ate the livestock they could raise, which was limited to rabbits and chickens. Rabbits are very easy and inexpensive to raise for several reasons: 1) They have a very low carbon footprint (particularly when compared to larger mammals like beef) and don't need an entire field to roam around in 2) They eat pretty much any vegetable you toss their way, and 3) They reproduce like...well, rabbits; which makes for a constant and reliable food source.

Rabbit Stew

Cooked rabbit meat looks a lot like chicken, but the flavor is much richer and slightly gamier. It is also much tougher than chicken meat (rabbit muscles are surprisingly strong), which is why it is perfect for stews where it can simmer away for hours in a flavorful broth of fresh vegetables until it's tender enough to fall right off the bone and dissolve in your mouth like butter, which is exactly what happens in this recipe. You can purchase rabbit from your local butcher, most butcher departments in grocery stores will be able to special order a rabbit for you frozen (frozen rabbit meat is completely fine, mine came frozen as well! Just make sure you defrost it completely before attempting to cut it.) This recipe makes for a very brothy stew, so I always eat it with a big piece of crusty bread to dip into to the stew and soak up all the concentrated tomato, herb, & rabbit fat flavors. Altering between the juicy broth-soaked bread and tender slow-cooked rabbit makes for a delicious dining experience that is meant to be savored. And savored it has been and will be.


Rabbit Stew

Ingredients:

1 Rabbit, about 3 lbs in weight
3 Carrots, peeled & sliced
2 Stalks of Celery, sliced
1 Large Yellow Onion, chopped
6 Cloves of Garlic, minced
5 Tomatoes, cut into eights
1 Cup Vegetable Broth
1/2 Cup White Wine
1/3 Cup White Vinegar
1/3 Cup Olive Oil
2 Tablespoons Butter
1 Tablespoon Plus 1 Teaspoon Tomato Paste
3 Bay Leaves
1 Teaspoon Dried Oregano
1 Teaspoon Fresh Oregano
2 Teaspoons Salt, plus more to taste
2 Teaspoons Pepper, plus more to taste
1/2 Teaspoon Allspice
1/4 Teaspoon Cinnamon
1 loaf of crusty bread to serve alongside for dipping

Rabbit Stew

Separate the rabbit into legs, ribs, arms, and thighs. Rub the outside of the rabbit meat with a teaspoon of the salt and a teaspoon of the pepper. Set aside.

Rabbit Stew

Heat the olive oil in a large pot over medium heat and add the onions and garlic, sautéing until transparent and lightly browned around the edges, about 20 minutes, stirring every 5 minutes. Move the onion and garlic mixture to the sides of the pan and add the rabbit meat in the center. Brown the meat on all sides, cooking for about 10 minutes.

Rabbit Stew

Add the tomatoes, tomato paste, vegetable broth, vinegar, wine, carrots, celery, butter, dried herbs and spices, and the remaining salt and pepper. Stir until blended and bring the mixture to a boil. Lower the heat to a simmer and then cover and cook for 2 and 1/2 to 3 hours, or until the rabbit meat is tender and falls off the bone. Stir in the fresh oregano and taste. Add more salt and pepper until your personal preference is satisfied, then serve.

Rabbit Stew

Rabbit Stew

24 comments:

  1. That looks rich, warm and satisfying. I've cooked rabbit once and would definitely be interested in doing it again and improving my technique.

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    1. Thank you Leaf! It is such a tasty and versatile ingredient.

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  2. I have not had rabbit since my dad prepared it for me, and he's been gone since 1988. I remember as a child, he would get us kids to eat all sorts of things we wouldn't nornally by saying, "This is chicken." And we'd respond, "Then why does it have 4 legs?"
    "It's a special chicken," he'd say:-)
    But because of times like that, I now live in Northern Michigan where venison is just as valuable as prime rib, and bear meat burgers are on the grill at least once a month.
    Looks delish! And you've inspired me to give it a try! Thank you!

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    1. Haha, your Dad had a great sense of humor with food :) I have always wanted to try bear, that is so awesome that you can get the meat readily up there! If you can get bear then there's got to be rabbit somewhere around there for purchase. If you give it a try let me know how you like it!

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  3. As always, absolutely stunning pictures!! I want to take photography lessons from you. Seriously. This recipe sounds amazing too. I loved reading about your father and learning about rabbit as a food source. I've never eaten rabbit but I'd love to try it. This stew sounds fantastic!

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    1. Thanks so much Kate :) I'm glad you enjoyed reading about it! And for the pictures, I just practice practice practice. But you should definitely give rabbit a try, it has such a rich and unique flavor!

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  4. Since Johnny is buddies with the meat guys at Healthy Living, they'll occasionally send him home with random things. A couple years ago, they gave him a whole rabbit. I can't recall exactly what he did with it, but it was something along the lines of pan-roasting it with a bunch of veggies. There was also a lot of liquid involved somehow (maybe stock + general meat roasting juices?), and it wound up sloshing out of the pan all over the oven and setting off the smoke alarm. :) It was very good, but it definitely has that kind of intense, gamey taste to it. Which I like, but it seems to work better when there are a lot of other flavors surrounding it. A stew would have been way better! If he ever brings another rabbit home, I'm suggesting this.

    Can't wait to see the VT post!! :D

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    1. Ohhh yes, the liquid helps keep the meat from drying out when being cooked slowly, and the slow cooking tenderizes the tough meat. I want to try that technique the next time I make rabbit, I've only ever had it in stews (which are delicious, but I always like trying new things!) And yay Vermont!!! I am going to be posting about it in a couple days so be on the look out :D

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  5. This is beautiful! The first meat I ever cooked in my kitchen was rabbit; I always complain about sketchy unethical origins of supermarket meat, so I figured I'd have to live up to my own expectations and skin it myself, haha! I'll definitely be trying this recipe next time :)

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    1. Haha, you are a stronger cook than I! I admire that skill, I have never been presented with the opportunity to skin a carcass for food prep, but I think it would be a valuable lesson to learn. Sounds like a wonderful meal to break in your kitchen with :)

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  6. We had rabbit once! We have a guy at the farmers market who sells it regularly. We made rabbit cacciatore, which is really similar to the recipe you posted here. I remember being so freaked out at the shape of a whole rabbit. I can look at a whole chicken and not associate it with it's living counterpart, but a whole rabbit ready to cook looks just like a real live rabbit! Or maybe I'm just weird. Kevin made fun of me when that whole business occurred. It was well worth it though; rabbit is so tasty. We've talked about having it again, but have yet to do so. We better get on that!

    Hope you're all recovered from your big trip! I can't wait to hear all about it!

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    1. The first time I prepared one I was a little surprised by the shape too, haha! It really is quite an accurate reflection of it's normal body, which you don't really see often when preparing mammals (growing up our Greek community would roast whole lambs on spits at Easter, and I mean the *whole* lamb. So that got me a bit deadened to the whole meat = whole animal thing since we were literally cutting chunks of meat off of it over the fire.) If you do give rabbit another try let me know how it turns out for you! I'd love to hear about it :D

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  7. oh my goodness..this is stunning! i'm sorry for being so late on yur blog dear :) your posts i missed are all orgeous as usual!
    we eat rabbit almost every sunday at my parents' home. greatest meat ever!!!

    keep the good job :)
    xxxFiC.

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    1. Thank you so much Katerina! And no worries, you are more than welcome here whenever you have the time :) And holy moly, isn't rabbit the best?? Such a flavorful food, I wish it were more readily available here so I could eat it more often. So great that you get to have it weekly!

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  8. Jet lag? From a trip to Vermont? Perhaps it was airsickness instead? I think i feel worse and worse every time i fly and I'm certain that i'm going to need that airsickness bag one of these days. Glad you enjoyed your trip and though i've never tried rabbit, that stew does look good.

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    1. You know maybe it was, I also only slept for three hours on the red eye on the way back and stayed awake all day when I got back which I think was a terrible idea, looking back at it. I just wanted to make myself adjust to the time faster so I didn't let myself sleep until night time, even though I had a hard time sleeping on the plane. I think next time I take a red eye I will bring Nyquil with me so I can fall asleep easier. Just one of those knocks me out almost instantly! It's like an over the counter sleeping aid.

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  9. oh wow!

    this looks positively wonderful. I grew eating all sorts of game - venison, elk, etc, but I've never had rabbit. This makes me want to try it!

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    1. I have always been so curious about elk but haven't ever had the chance to try it. I had venison once when I was a teenager, one of my friend's father liked to go hunting and he had made some sausage from his latest hunting trip. I remember practically inhaling it, it was so good! But yes, definitely try rabbit meat when you get the chance, it's quite a treat!

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  10. This is amazing!! I made it today and am speechless how delicious it is... Thank you so much for this wonderful recipe.. I am addicted now to your page:)

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    1. Awww thank you so much Saviola! I am so glad you like it, I love the tanginess the vinegar adds to the dish. So, so tasty. And I am so happy you like the recipes here, let me know how any other ones you try turn out :)

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  11. I just went hunting in Texas and field dressed my first animal, Texas Jack Rabbit. We got 2 of them and they are in my freezer. They look exactly like your whole rabbit pictured up top. I'm trying to teach my children about being thankful for the food on the table and where it comes from. 2 questions for you: #1 how do you "separate the ribs from the legs, arms, thighs" cleanly? (What cutting motion and where to cut); #2 what about spitfire roasting a rabbit? How would that work and where to learn how for a novice?

    Thanks! Burt

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    1. Hi Brent! Your children are very lucky to have you for a father, it is great that you are teaching them to think about and appreciate where their food comes from. Regarding cutting the rabbit, I recommend checking out this slideshow step-by-step guide on cutting up a whole rabbit from Saveur: http://www.saveur.com/gallery/Easy-Pieces-Cutting-a-Whole-Rabbit

      As for the spitfire roasting, I have never used a spitfire roaster myself but I have seen my Dad do it many times with a whole lamb. You would want to put the coals on the bed of the roaster and wait until they've stopped flaming and are glowing and very hot. Then place the rabbit on the spitfire. I know it takes a couple hours for the whole lamb, but a rabbit should be much faster. I'd recommend having a meat thermometer on hand, and pausing the rotation on the spitfire when the rabbit begins looking and smelling done to you, place the meat thermometer in a thick piece of meat like the thigh. It should read at least 160 degrees Fahrenheit. If it does not, give it a bit more time rotating on the spit and then pause the rotation and check again. I hope this helps, and best of luck with your rabbit preparations!!

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  12. Success! I had a 5lb Jack Rabbit so I added more broth and seasoning and I soaked it in saltwater over night. I also added a Texas kicker: I cut 1 habanero in half and let it soak with the broth. The trick is fishing it out and not mistaking it for a carrot when you serve. My kids all ate it as did my wife's voice class. 10 girls all under the age of 11 tried wild rabbit stew and loved it. Thank you.

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  13. This is going to be the first time I try to cook rabbit. I have always used all my senses in cooking and food looking good is the first one that makes this recipe a must-try for me. Here in South Africa it is a very frowned at food source, most just pull their noses up and some would like to slaughter you for killing such an adorable creature. Well, I believe that if you haven't tried it, don't knock it.

    Will let you all know how mine turned out and my children (son and daughter) has to say about it. Thanks for the recipe Eva

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