Thursday, December 3, 2015

Rabbit Season.

When you talk to the average American about cooking a rabbit they tend to get all frowny face at you. A few tears build up in the crook of their eyes and they immediately say something like "How could you eat Thumper?" To which I reply "This was not that cute bunny from Bambi. For all you know this rabbit could've been a total jerk." I find it very interesting that our culture is super happy to eat a Mcwhopper made of franken-cow or some nice factory white chicken breast all hermetically sealed up in the grocery store but eating animals that resemble actual animals is frowned upon. Hypocrytical perhaps? Meat comes from animals. Respect that animal by knowing what it is, where it comes from, and using every single bit of it. Nose to tail cooking is what it's all about. The rest of the world (yes, I am generalizing and I'm okay with that) isn't so squeamish about their food. As Englishman Fergus Henderson said "Nose-to-tail eating is not a bloodlust, testosterone-fueled offal hunt. It's common sense, and it's all good stuff." 

Okay, so here is a random aside. I am a huge Catherine Deneuve fan (hence this blog's name The Hunger wink wink). Okay so there is a scene in the 1965 film Repulsion (which I have another blag lovingly named) where Miss Deneuve slowly goes insane in her sisters apartment where she stares at a defrosting rabbit that's sitting out for days. It is very upsetting and wonderful and for whatever reason my twisted little brain simply could not make rabbit without paying homage to that film. Okay, end random crazy aside.

So I'd only made rabbit a few other times in my life. I usually cooked it French hunters style with wine and olives and fresh herbs. The other day I came across a old recipe in one of my Spanish cookbooks for Catalan rabbit stew. My family (the Cuban/Spanish side derp) originally came from Catalonia Spain so I wanted to try it. It has braised rabbit, crushed hazelnuts, tomato and pancetta. I added my touch of a little pimentón and crushed Spanish olives for extra smokey brininess. I served it with roasted baby potatoes with fresh thyme and tons of lemon. Salty and gamey and rich and rabbity. Perfect for a winter stick-to-your-ribs meal. It would be delicious with chicken too if you can't get a rabbit or just don't want to. Either way it'll be tasty.

Conill al Romesco (Catalan Braised Rabbit with Romesco Sauce

1 rabbit, jointed into six pieces
1 cup AP flour
kosher salt and fresh cracked black pepper, tt
olive oil

1 cup chicken stock
1/2 cup dry white wine
4oz pancetta or bacon, diced
1 medium onion, diced
6 ripe tomatoes (or one 28oz can of whole tomatoes)
3 piquillo peppers (or one red bell pepper), diced
4 Tbsp Spanish olive oil
1 Tbsp sherry wine vinegar
2 tsp fresh rosemary, chopped
2 tsp fresh thyme, chopped
1 Tbsp pimentón
1 pinch saffron (bloomed in a little water)
2 Tbsp crushed and toasted hazelnuts
6 cloves garlic, minced
1 cup crushed Spanish olives

Season the flour with salt and pepper. Coat the rabbit pieces with the flour. In a large pan/dutch oven over medium high heat add some olive oil. Fry the rabbit pieces until browned. About 3 minutes each side. Remove the rabbit to a plate and set aside.

To the same pot add the pancetta, onion, peppers and garlic and cook for a few minutes as the pancetta renders out some of it's fat (add a little more olive oil if you need to. Add the rest of the ingredients and the rabbit back to the pot. Turn heat to medium low and simmer for 40 minutes to an hour. The rabbit meat should be falling off the bone. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Yum. Serve with potatoes or rice. Pretend you are a Spanish hunter and sit in the forest while you eat this. xoxo