My regular readers will know that our Frozen in Ottawa dinner is well in hand. This, my fourth post on the subject, answers the question, “What should we serve for the main course?”
The man of the house wanted to feature his winter stew-making skills, well-honed in our climate. He suggested “Hasenpfeffer,” a dish he had recently cooked for the family with success. In fact, I thought it was the best stew he had ever made for us. But… what kind of meat is that, you might wonder.
If you knew a little German, it would help. Hasen means rabbit. And pfeffer means seasoned or spiced. So now you know. No sense in being sentimental. We were having Bugs Bunny for dinner… and not as a guest.
I wasn’t squeamish. Rabbits are farmed in far more humane ways than most of the traditional animals we see in the meat counter. But I wondered if our guests would feel the same? So I took most of the bones out and called it German stew. That lasted all of 2 seconds before people were asking in loud voices, “Well? What meat did you use in the stew?” And they wouldn’t take “sausages” for an answer.
I hope they liked it, regardless. It turned out just as we had hoped – full of rich, good meaty flavors.
Its richness hit in the pocketbook, as well as on the taste buds. Although we began with a recipe called, “Poor man’s rabbit,” at 18 dollars each for two rabbits the dish was far from inexpensive. Seasoned with bacon, sausage, shallots, and red currant jelly, then braised in red wine, the cost went up from there. But it served eight people generously and made for a nice wintery treat.
AKA Rabbit stew, German style
- 2 rabbits, cleaned of all giblets and fat, and cut into pieces
- 3/4 cup flour
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- lots of freshly ground black pepper
- 1 pound bacon, diced
- 1 cup shallots, roughly chopped
- 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
- 2 or 3 cups dry red wine
- 1 or 2 cups beef or veal stock
- 2 tablespoons red current jelly
- a handful of peppercorns, bay leaf, rosemary, thyme, and/or savory, wrapped in cheesecloth for easy removal later
- 1 tablespoon orange zest
- 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
- 1 or 2 tablespoons lemon juice (to taste)
- 2 tablespoons flour
- 2 cups cleaned small whole button mushrooms
- 1 cup sliced cooked sausage
- Soak bunnies overnight in cold water, in the fridge.
- Shake the flour, salt and pepper together in a big paper bag
- Dredge the rabbit pieces in the seasoned flour and shake off excess flour
- In a large, deep, heavy stew pot, brown bacon over medium-high heat. Remove with a slotted spoon, drain on paper towel and set aside.
- Brown rabbit in the bacon fat, turning on all sides. Remove and set aside.
- Remove all but 2 tablespoons of bacon fat. Brown the shallots and garlic for 4 minutes until tender.
- Stir in the wine, stock, jelly, and herbs. Return the rabbit and bacon to the pan. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to simmer. Braise slowly for 1 1/2 hour or until the meat is tender.
- Remove the meat and discard the herbs.
- Make the gravy by stirring the lemon juice, orange rind and balsamic vinegar into the liquid. Thicken if necessary with flour blended into a little of the liquid, then added back to the pan. On medium heat, stir until thickened. Add the mushrooms and sausage, then heat through, about 10 minutes.
Pour the mushroom gravy over the meat and serve with your sides. We roasted some cipollini onions with balsamic vinegar and added a few Christmas pierogis to the plate.
The recipe for pierogis is already up. Cipollini onions is up next time.
Rabbit meat packs in a lot of protein, with much less saturated fat than beef or pork. Lean on fat, it’s low in calories but big on the trace minerals selenium and phosphorus, as well as B vitamins. All of this means good health for your heart, as well as your love life. It also means a well-functioning metabolism, active antioxidant production and a strong immune system for optimum protection from disease.
- Frozen Blues: Cocktail of the hour – Capture the sky of the Dominican Republic within Canada’s icy cold winters… blue curaçao flavors this drink, designed to introduce perfectly a dinner themed Frozen in Ottawa.
- BeaverTails deconstructed – These nutritious tidbits come with all the fixings of a good BeaverTail, without the deep-frying. A pretty hors d’oeuvre!
- My mandolin’s iceberg salad, starring kohlrabi – Crunchy, juicy and with more vitamin C than an orange, kohlrabi is great in my mandolin salad with its fabulous sesame seed dressing.
- 15 steps to making red and green pierogis – Christmas pierogis are possible without resorting to artificial food dyes.