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For those of you who follow Dish and Drink, you’ll know that there’s been a rabbit in my freezer for months now; haunting me, taunting me, begging me to do its’ death justice with a fabulous meal.
But I’m a busy girl! So I’ve procrastinated; I’ve left it waiting, freezing cold, its little bunny spirit thinking maybe just maybe it died in vain.
Finally, motivated by the fact that I’m moving in a couple of days and need to consume the contents of my refrigerator before it’s too late, I decided it was time to eat the sacrificial creature.
Despite the inordinate amount of time I had to plan for this meal, turns out I really didn’t do my homework. I got home from work and started prep. Though I usually more-or-less improvise my recipes, I thought I’d consult the internet briefly, at least to check on cooking time on a protein I’d never prepared before.
“Whoops.” I thought to myself as I realized that the cook times on Rabbit Stew recipes tended to be around two hours. My friends would be arriving in an hour. “Well,” I thought to myself, “They’ll just have to wait.”
First I needed to butcher the rabbit, which I had received whole. I’d never butchered a rabbit before, but from my brief time working at a butcher shop, I’d gained an expertise of breaking down whole chickens. And rabbits are basically chickens, right?
To begin with, it did feel like breaking down a chicken. The front legs resembled wings, and the back legs drums and thighs. After that, things got wonky. Breaking the meat from the spine wasn’t quite as familiar, but I found it relatively intuitive and was able to salvage what I considered to be a fair amount of meat.
Next, I coated the protein in salt, pepper, and a little bit of flour. I heated some oil in my dutch oven, and then browned the rabbit and removed it from the pan.
I deglazed the pot with some red wine, added some more oil, then chopped onion, shallot, and garlic, and put them on the heat.
There was something else hanging around in my freezer that I needed to get rid of before the move; bacon. Lots and lots of bacon. So, I chopped up a bunch of that and added it as well.
Next, I put the rabbit back in, and added red wine and chicken broth, enough to just barely cover the meat. I chopped some carrots, added dried apricots and a few sprigs of thyme, as well as salt and cracked pepper.
From my guests, I requested wine, beer, cheese, and some last minute potatoes to add to the stew once it had cooked for a little while.
The smells were intoxicating, and as my friends arrived I showered them in apologies for what promised to be a tortuous and extended wait until the food was ready. They were good sports about it, after all, we did have cheese (thank god).
After about an hour of sitting around my dinner table, talking politics and love and all things interesting, I chopped the potatoes and added them to the pot. My guests perked up at the sight of me surveying the tantalizing stove-top treats.
Nope. Not Yet.
Finally, after another half hour, I simply couldn’t wait any longer. I chopped some parsley and added it to the stew, sliced some rustic, crunchy country bread, and put out some fancy cultured butter for spreading.
We served ourselves and chowed down. The final result was fall of the bone tender, oh-so-savory and rustic. “I feel like I’m in the French countryside,” one of my guests exclaimed.
Yes, my tiny, messy, humble studio apartment is super sophisticated. Maybe I’ll actually miss it once I’ve moved on to one that’s bigger and better.