I will not be surprised if–come to find out–I used up all my good luck for the year on January 2. That day I was driving home in the rain on the highway. Swerved to avoid a merging car that did not see me. Lost control of my car. Spun off the highway, off the non-existant shoulder, and started spinning. My brakes were useless because of all the rain and mud. I did a grand total of a 540 degree turn and ended up in a four-foot ditch. It took the tow truck an hour to get me out of said-ditch. My airbags did not deploy. I miraculously did not hit anything–including another car. Not a single light turned on in my car (though I should probably still get the suspension checked…). And all I had to deal with was a week of whiplash.
Consequently, when I quit shaking and things got back to normal, I felt like celebrating. I had discussed with friends–and even mentioned on this blog–the possibility of doing dinner and a movie themes. Since I was “not quite dead yet”, I decided to kick things off with the classic “Monty Python and the Holy Grail.” The menu was braised rabbit over mashed potatoes and coconut cream pie (the latter was made by a friend of mine who is a much better baker than I ever could be).
This was only the second time I’d ever had rabbit and the first time I’d ever cooked it. The first time I was a kid and in a restaurant. The rabbit was basically cooked like chicken piccata–pounded, breaded, lightly fried, and served with lemon and capers. But the entire time I kept thinking, “I’m eating Thumper.”
That was not an issue this time around. It really wasn’t that difficult to cook at all. Still, I’m not sure I’d do it again. It’s not that it tastes bad (surprisingly, it kinda tastes like chicken. At least, it has that consistency, which I don’t think you’d expect). It’s just that it’s very expensive–at least in the U.S. (cheapest I found was $13.99 a pound, and it’s mostly bone). Also, both from a cooking as well as eating perspective, it’s a lot of work for very little meat.
Anyways, whether you’ve got an adventurous stomach and want to check out the recipe or you just want to look at the pretty food pictures, enjoy!
- 5 pounds rabbit, plus organs (if you have them)
- Garlic cloves, roughly chopped
- Portobella mushrooms, coarsely chopped
- Rosemary, both chopped and whole sprigs
- Cipollini onions, peeled and halved
- Bottle of dry red wine
- Bag of (not sweet) cherries, pitted
- Salt and pepper
- Olive oil
- Sugar (optional)
- Clean the rabbit (literally wash the blood off). Salt and pepper all pieces thoroughly. Keep any organs.
- Sear the rabbit. To do that, put a little bit of olive oil in a Dutch oven (or similar pot). On high heat and in batches, cook the seasoned rabbit (with a little flour dusted on it)–no more than 3 minutes per side. When the flour/salt/pepper has “stuck” to the rabbit and it starts to brown, remove.
- Keeping the Dutch oven on high, add a little more oil and cook the garlic, mushrooms, onions and chopped rosemary. Stir frequently until the veggies start to soften.
- Add the rabbit back to the pot, as well as the whole rosemary sprigs and the cherries. Top with red wine and (if you don’t have enough liquid) water.
- Bring to a boil, and then reduce the heat to low-medium (depending on how soon you want to eat). The rabbit should continue to cook for at least 45 minutes. You want to stir every 10-15 minutes.
- If the wine is too dry and/or the cherries make things too bitter, add a teaspoon of sugar at a time to your desired taste. Don’t add the organs until 15 minutes before serving (they don’t take that long to cook). Serve over mashed potatoes, or with warm bread.