Sunday, November 24, 2013

Of herbs and stewed rabbit

My freezer chest needs defrosting. When I moved into this apartment, it had something I'd never seen before: a fridge with no freezer compartment on top. I told them that this was one of the weirdest things I'd ever seen in a kitchen and insisted that the place had to have a proper fridge. I was, of course, roundly ignored. Nonetheless, the agency lady, who seemed to take rather a shine to me, called me a few weeks after I moved in offering to give me one she had in her garage. Arranged a man with a van to come over and deliver it even. And it's huge. If any of our local friends need a place to hide the body, give me a ring.

But it's also old, and though it certainly freezes things, it also manufactures an indoor wintery wonderland. The ice shelf is now so huge I'm thinking of calling it "Ross" and offering guided expeditions across it. So I've decided to start the project of eating up everything in there that needs to remain frozen so I can unplug it and spend a day mopping.

One of the things in there, right down near the bottom, is a package of skinned rabbit I bought on a whim a few months ago. I started looking up recipes online, having only had one rather unsuccessful experience with rabbit in the past. (I discovered that while it really does more or less taste like chicken, and you do similar things to it, it takes a LOT longer to cook.)

But then I realised, wait, what am I thinking? I know how to stew meat.


1 rabbit, cut into big pieces (actually, it was half a rabbit, including the head! gross!)
3 or 4 carrots, chopped into big bits
two leeks, also chopped into big bits
a few cloves of garlic, also as above, chopped into...
1 apple, not peeled, sliced into thin wedges

a few handfuls of dried shitaake mushrooms
two cups of water
two tablespoons chicken stock powder
splash of red wine
dash of Lea and Perrin's

Sprigs of fresh thyme, marjoram and sage from the balcony pots, all chopped up fine together.

Put all the chopped veg and the apple into the nice cast iron dutch oven you bought in Cheshire at the 50p shop. Cut up the little bits of meat on the head (including the tongue! gross!) and give it to the cat. Sprinkle the herbs on top of the veg.

Bring the water, chicken stock wine and wooster to a simmer. Break the mushrooms while still dried into big pieces and put them in the juice to simmer, covered for ten minutes or until they're nice and squishy. Pour the whole business, stock, mushrooms and all, into the dutch oven. Place the rest of the pieces of coniglio on top. Cover and put in a hot oven for 45 minutes to an hour. About half way, turn the pieces over and squish them down into the broth.

I went with very mild, herby sort of flavours, ones that might be found on the road by travellers, say. And that reflect an autumnal mood. But it would do just as well as a wine-tomato sort of thing too, and would lend itself pretty well to stronger, spicier stock.

I added the apples, in case you're wondering, to add a little natural sugar to offset the saltyness of the chicken stock, and as we all know, meat is great with fruity stuff. Don't peel the apples because they tend to disintegrate in stews, so if you want to keep them as nice apply blobs, you need the peel to hold them together.

You won't believe how wonderful...



Anonymous said...

I've had a freezer in the basement and an "all fridge" in the kitchen my whole married life. Love it, because its bigness holds food for a whole family...

And frozen stuff is always in the basement. Have to have a basement, of course.


anonymous who took a head out of a pot once to his chagrin said...

Be careful about serving the head. Nothing can be more appetite-suppressive to a guest than to discover that what he or she took out of the pot is not in fact a thigh, but has teeth.