Monday, January 11, 2010

Waiter, there's a rabbit in my salad.

Believe it or not, I was a vegetarian for ten whole years.  I was even vegan for one of them.  And this was back in the day when if you wanted to eat out your choices involved a burger with no meat (ie: a nasty sauce sandwich) or as many Taco Hell bean burritos you could stomach (I wish I still had my iron gut).  Perhaps if I had not been a scrappy, broke teenager at the time of this ethical decision my choices would have expanded but alas, I was a kid and I ate a lot of terrible fast food.  I still remember the time I told my parents I no longer wanted to eat meat.  From their reaction it felt as if was telling them I had just joined a demonic cult.  I think my mother almost cried.  I mean, I know being a Cuban means you have pork fat in your veins but I didn't think it would be a big deal.  My mother tried to accommodate me but the concept of not eating meat eluded her.  She would say things like: "Can't you just pick the chicken out of your chicken soup?"  "Oh don't be silly, butter isn't an animal."  "Plants are alive too, are you going to stop eating them?"  It was a little rough but I persevered and eventually she caught on.  My step-Father was another story.  I don't how many times he would say "Hey, there's meat in that!  HA HA"  when there clearly was not or the times that he would make dinner that had meat in it and try to fool me into eating it by saying it was vegetarian.  Yeah, we got along swell.  So the animal's lives were being spared and the world was going to be a better place with people like me making "the right" decisions.  It was so beautiful being so very enlightened all the time.  Ahhh,  my teen years.  Ha ha, yeah right.  You couldn't pay me to be a teenager again.

Years later it was a club sandwich that did me in.  Turkey, bacon, cheese, mayo, mustard, rye bread.  I couldn't help myself.  Sure I sold my ethics for a sandwich, but I have to say, I don't regret it. Everyone draws a line in the sand somewhere.  I just decided that I needed my line to be a little higher and a little more delicious.  In fact, I love animals more than most human beings.  But I also know that my body did not respond well to being a vegetarian.  My skin was a greenish color  which may seem attractive in some hippie circles but to me I just looked sick all the time.  I think I was sick all the time.  Oh, and my teeth hurt, my joints hurt, and my I couldn't muster enough energy to do much of anything but get high and watch CHiPs.  Okay, so I guess you could counteract with "Well, perhaps if you ate something besides Doritos and saucy bread, you would have been healthier."  Yeah probably, but what's your point?  (don't argue with me when I get irrational, it's useless)  Life is all about choices. Don't get me wrong, I love the Veg.  I just love meat a little more.

The other night I was making a lovely salad made with fresh baby spinach, toasted walnuts, Point Reyes blue cheese, and these amazing homemade pickled beets that a client of K's gave to us for Christmas,  all drizzled with a tasty balsamic Dijon vinaigrette.  That was going to be our dinner.  After thinking about the salad for minute I realized that it would need something.  I got it, it needed some rabbit.  So I took some hind quarters of rabbit, marinated them in olive oil, lemon, fresh oregano, fresh thyme, salt, pepper, and garlic.  I then roasted them in my oven until golden and juicy.  Placed atop the beet and spinach salad, it made perfect sense.  My dinner was complete.

Roasted Rabbit and Beet Salad

The Rabbit:
2 rabbit hind quarters, cleaned and trimmed
juice of 1 lemon
Tbsp EV olive oil
1/2 Tbsp fresh rosemary
1/2 Tbsp fresh thyme
2 cloves garlic, minced
kosher salt and fresh cracked black pepper tt

Marinate all ingredients for 1-2 hours.  Preheat oven to 350 F.  Roast the rabbit for 20-25 minutes just until cooked through.  Let the meat rest

The Vinaigrette:
1 Tbsp balsamic vinegar
2 Tbsp extra vigin olive oil
2 tsp Dijon mustard
1/2 shallot, minced
kosher salt and fresh cracked black pepper tt

Mix all of the ingredients except for the olive oil.  Slowly whisk in the olive oil until emulsified.  Season.

The Salad:
1 bunch spinach, washed & stemmed
1 cup pickled beets, sliced
1/2 cup toasted walnuts
1/2 cup blue cheese, crumbled

Lightly toss all of the ingredients together.

Pour some of the vinaigrette over the salad and gently mix to coat.  Top with the rabbit.  You can also shred the rabbit meat into the salad to make eating easier.  Enjoy.

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