Easter Birthday BBQ Menu:
Nathan's Hot Dogs
Grilled Veggie Skewers
Grilled Sweet Corn
Caprese Farfalle Salad (by B.d-s )
German Potato Salad(by AvB)
Chocolate Cake(by JGC)
Hop-Skip (a Vodka-Lemonade Party Punch)
Sierra Nevada Lager
This past Easter Sunday, I had a small dinner party/BBQ for some friends. It was the occasion for some rabbit! I have eaten rabbit once before when I was Paris three summers ago, baked in a dijon mustard sauce. It is similar to chicken in color, but a little moister in texture.
I had concerns about finding rabbit to cook here in Los Angeles, short of applying for a hunting license and taking care of the killing and skinning parts myself. I thought I would have to go to Chinatown, or even to a specialty poultry store downtown, but I found a 3-lb packaged young rabbit at Bristol Farms. It wasn't cheap, mind you, at $10.99 a pound, but it was a sacrifice that was made for novelty.
Having never made stew before, I found a perhaps oversimplified recipe for Rabbit Stew on Cooks.com:
1 (2 1/2 to 3 lb.) rabbit, cut up
6 peeled, sm. white onions
1 1/2 c. diced celery
4 1/2 tsp. salt
1/8 tsp. pepper
2 qts. boiling water
2 c. diced carrots
2 c. diced potatoes
1/2 c. flour
3/4 c. cold water
1 tbsp. chopped parsley
Wash and dry cleaned rabbit. Place in kettle with next 6 ingredients. Cover; simmer 2 hours or until rabbit is tender. Add potatoes; blend flour and water. Stir into stew. Cook until thickened and add parsley.
I assumed since the meat package was rather rabbit-shaped when I bought it, that I would have to debone the rabbit myself. Sure enough, this was true. (No head, thank god! But I had to remove the liver, heart and lungs.) I consulted with Julia Child in Mastering the Art of French Cooking, but there were only written instructions, not illustrated like I had hoped. I held it, and as I ran my thumb over its backbone I was reminded its resemblance in size to a common housecat.
So I got to quizzically exploring with my knife, hacking away a little bit, then remembering some basics. Separate the front and hind legs first, and follow along the bone with the knife to remove the meat. A chef's knife for the big pieces and to chop through the bone, and a sharp paring knife doing the trick for the legs. I don't think I got every piece I got, but with trimming the fat, et cetera, I was ready to start cooking the damn thing.
With a satisfying pile of meat, I put it aside in a bowl and began prepping the veggies. 6 small white onions, a few stalks of diced celery and diced carrots.
The instructions were really simple, and didn't detail any pre-cooking of the onions or making a burnt roux with flour to give the stew a browner color. But I was pressed for time, so I cooked the raw meat in a bit of olive oil for 5 minutes before adding the boiling pasta water that I had handy.
I don't have pictures of the result, (or the diced potatoes for that matter), but after a couple hours' simmer you add the diced potatoes and the flour-cold water mixture to thicken the stew. At the finish you stir in the fresh chopped parsley, and Voila! we have our rabbit stew.
I suppose like a good roast chicken, a stew should not be rushed. People got hungry before it got stewy enough, but the results were bound to be good because of the amount of onion. I have been dying to make a good Guiness Beef Stew, which includes caramelizing the onions as part of the recipe. I love dark beers, and this would be a perfect weekend dinner.
*Additionally, this was a Birthday BBQ, and cake was made(Thanks JGC)! Quite good chocolate cake, using Semisweet Baker's Chocolate and fresh brewed coffee to enrich the chocolate flavor. Rich and fudgy, good with milk. There are only twelve candles, but I am twice that.
Happy 24th, and welcome back Zombie Jesus.