Bugs Bunny was screaming to us from the meat counter at Anni's Pølsemakeri in Mathallen. "What's Cookin' Doc!? This ain't wabbit huntin' season." And so it was that we ended up with a rabbit in our bag. Then, as we walked outside of Mathallen we discovered a brand new spice shop that had opened; Il Buongustaio. The wonderfully enthusiastic Janni made us a special spice blend perfect for the small jumping creature.
Feeds about 4 people after a long day of hunting
One rabbit (preferably shot during wabbit hunting season)
2 liters of buttermilk (you can use Kulturmelk or Kefir in Norway)
A spice mix consisting of at least some sage, thyme and juniper berries
1 large yellow onion
3 cloves of garlic
6 small potatoes
1 glass of red wine
2 cans of good tomatoes
A small jar of extra virgin olive oil
Half a lemon
Salt & pepper
The preparations start the day before, when you soak the rabbit in two liters of buttermilk and let it marinate over night. The next day you wash it off and dry it with a paper towel.
What's Cookin' Doc?
Don't worry, the rabbit was already dead. It felt no pain We had to split up the carcass in smaller pieces, though. Cut out the legs. Separate the filets from the back. The filets are too tender and juicy to waste in a stew where they will get dry. We fried them in butter on the pan with just salt and pepper and whipped up a spicy aioli to dip in. Great food to nibble on while you wait for your rabbit stew to get ready. A stew takes many hours to cook, and usually it's even better the next day.
Give the rest of the meat, including the meatless bones, a good rub with some extra virgin olive oil and the spice mix. Leave it on the kitchen counter to allow the flavors to settle while you prepare the rest.
Peel the carrots. Roughly chop them together with unpeeled potatoes. Cut the onion and garlic in relatively rough pieces as well. It's all going to slow cook, so you don't want too small pieces as they will just make a mash.
In a big cast iron pot or similar, add some oil and fry the rabbit meat on medium high temperature. Make sure all sides gets a good caramelized crust, including the backbones. They will cook in the stew as well to give flavor. Remove the meat from the pot and wrap it in aluminum foil. Do not clean the pot, but add more oil and fry the onions and garlic on medium low heat. As they are starting to get transparent, add the carrots and give them a good fry as well. Finally the potatoes. Let the vegetable caramelize slightly before you add one glass of red wine. Once the wine is reduced to about half, add the two cans of tomatoes. The meat goes back in the pot. A squeeze of lemon, some salt and pepper and reduce the heat to a simmer. Lid on. Give it a good 3-4 hours.
Once the stew is done cooking you can remove the meatless bones. You might be able to scrape off some meat from these pieces as well, as it will all be very tender and soft by now. The rest of the meat you can either clear off the bones, or serve very rustic with a big piece of meat per person.
Sprinkle some freshly cut thyme over and serve!
That's all folks!
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