An Open Cookbook

An Open Cookbook

9.04.2011

Prosecco Bathed Rabbit with Pecans and Apricots


 Whew.  One gigantic, 20 second long exhale.  With no intention of sounding melodramatic, today was the absolute most emotionally taxing culinary experience I have ever had.   It is Recipe Swap time again where Christianna gives us a recipe from her vintage cookbook and we are assigned to switch and swap ingredients around to make a recipe our own.  This month is rabbit: 


A little intimidated is an understatement.  I have been excited and nervous to dive into this for about two weeks.  Actually I have put the recipe in a tiny little box in the middle of my brain, only to be opened the day before the recipe is due.  So today was that such day.

I did a little research this week on rabbit recipes and places to actually buy rabbit meat.  I found an awesome little butcher shop in Melrose Market called Rain Shadow Meats that only sells locally and responsibly grown meats.  The butcher was really kind and understanding when I told him that I had a recipe for stuffed rabbit legs.  He politely told me they didn't sell just rabbit legs....that I would have to buy the whole rabbit.  (Big swallow...and pause.)  Ok.  I could do this.  To ease the process, he told me he could cut it up for me.  Great.  This wouldn't be so bad.  I couldn't really see what he was doing, but I figured he was cutting the meat off the bone for me so that I could easily roll the meat with the pecan and rosemary filling, and I would be on my innocent way.  He handed me the 3.5 lb package of meat.  Thunk.

I was walking around Capitol Hill with a grey re-usable tote of rabbit parts.  I quickly walked to three other places to get all the other goods...butcher twine, Prosecco, rosemary, onions...a little courage.  After gathering said components, I got home, unloaded groceries, made lunch and poured myself a healthy glass of wine.  Was there really a rabbit in my fridge?

For the next three hours, I would occasionally open the fridge.  Yep.  There was a rabbit in there.  Now I realize, there are many many people in the world who regularly butcher meat, or purchase whole animals, or better yet, raise their own animals, put them to rest and then butcher and prepare them.  All I had to do was cut it up and prepare it.  But I am very very new to this idea.  Most of my culinary trekking has involved chicken and beef.  I have eaten interesting meats...just not prepared them.  Well it is about flipping time I muster up the courage to cook foods that I am very willing to order off a menu.



I took my last gulp of wine, washed my hands and cutting board and pulled out the large brown paper wrapped rabbit...hoping for a de-boned bag of rabbit meat.  I pulled the sticker off.  Undid the wrapping as if I was an eight year old on Christmas morning.  Uh-oh.  It was a fully intact rabbit, just cut into about eight pieces...bones, ribs, joints and all.  Ok.  I could do this.  I was up for the challenge.  No big deal.  I sharpened my knife, and started slicing away like I was a butcher in a small Italian town.  And before I knew it, I had six slabs of meat and a pile of bones.  I did it.  The hardest part was over. 

After spending as much money as I did on this glorious little rabbit, I wanted to use it to the fullest.  So I pulled out the Dutch oven, sauteed some carrots and onions, tossed in a few sprigs of rosemary and the pile of bones with several cups worth of water.  I would make rabbit stock.  And as it turned out, shredded rabbit.  There was a ton of meat left on the bones that I hadn't cut off.   So thank you dear bunny...you gave me many many meals worth of goodness.




After spending hours butchering, stuffing, sauteeing, braising, and finally tasting...I was spent.  I actually took a few swigs from the Prosecco bottle before pouring it into the pan.  After sitting down and eating a nice plateful of rabbit with apricot and cranberry sauce, I very slowly and intentionally portioned some of the recipe into a reheatable dish...taped it shut and took it over to M, J and W's house, for their dinner tomorrow night.  This nice little rabbit needed to be shared.  Hopefully they will taste the TLC. 

What a great experience to go through.  Though extremely small in this great big world, it was a big deal to me...one of those defining moments in the kitchen...by myself, with just a knife, a cutting board, a rabbit and an unlocked door just in case I needed an escape route. 

But no...no escape route needed.  Cooking an entire rabbit was quite a feat for me.  If you are up for the challenge, this recipe is quite rewarding in more ways than one.  Please click Here to see all the other great recipe swapper's rabbit experiences and recipes...I can't wait to do the same.

Prosecco Bathed Rabbit with Pecans and Apricots
Adapted from Mario Batali on Foodnetwork.com
Yields 4 servings

1 rabbit (or enough pieces for 4 servings)
1/2 cup pecans
2 large cloves garlic (or 3 medium), peeled and roughly cut
1/2 cup olive oil, divided in half
1 tsp fresh rosemary, roughly chopped
1/2 Tbsp ground black pepper
Butcher twine
1 medium red onion, diced
1/4 cup dried cranberries
1/4 cup dried apricots, cut into small chunks
1 bottle Prosecco

Carefully open your package of rabbit meat.  Slice the meat off the bone into as many large pieces as possible.

In a food processor, add in the pecans, garlic, 1/4 cup olive oil, rosemary and pepper.  Blend until it makes a paste.  With a spoon, spread the paste over all the pieces of meat.  Slowly and carefully roll the meat.  Secure it by tying butcher twine on the two ends of each piece (see picture above for an idea).

In a large saute pan heated over medium heat, pour in the other 1/4 cup olive oil.  Allow the oil to heat.  With tongs, place each rabbit roll into the pan.  Cook each side until all sides are fully lightly browned.  Add in the onions, cranberries and apricots and saute until onions have softened...about 5-10 minutes.  Now the fun part.  Pop open the Prosecco.  Take a swig if you need one.  Pour the whole bottle into the pan.  It will bubble and become quite frothy.  Bring to a boil and then lower to a simmer.  Partially cover or use a splash cover.  Cook for about 45-50 minutes.  Every 10-15 or so, turn the rabbit rolls to ensure it is evenly cooking and give it a good stir.  Cook until the meat is super tender.  If the liquid evaporates too much, add a little water. 

When done, remove the rabbit and cut the strings off.  Arrange onto a platter and spoon the sauce over the rolls.  Garnish with fresh rosemary.  Serve with roasted cauliflower and herb seasoned rice for a nice warm meal.



14 comments:

Boulder Locavore said...

Alli! I just saw your email that you posted early and wanted to come for a look. I loved the lead in on your post. Please come read mine tonight when it's up and you'll see, this rabbit thing was hard! Maybe because we've made them into pets, Easter Bunny etc but it felt like a totally different ball game.

Having said that, your recipe looks delicious. Really sounds a perfect recipe for rabbit and one to celebrate it. When I've eaten it, I've found it undeniably good and would love something such as you've done. Bravo brave girl!

Burwell General Store said...

Wow, Alli! What a great post. First of all, thank you for participating in the swap. And even further, fully going outside of your comfort zone to do so. That's what I'd like to think the swap is about, to re-think, re-invent, re-discover things in our own kitchens. I have to admit, I wasn't brave enough to work with a whole rabbit, so I went off on my own course...

Alex said...

Alli! awesome girl! I"m impressed. we were just at Melrose Market yesterday and I saw they had a rabbit, but i was still to chicken! maybe someday! looks fantastic, great job

Monique said...

Congrats on making it through your first rabbit experience- your dish looks stunning. I hope you have a proud sense of accomplishment!!

Barbara | Creative Culinary said...

Great post and a really amazing look dish. I really feel a sense of community that this was a challenge in more way than just the swapping of ingredients...the topic itself touched each of us differently. I really applaud your going all the way and doing rabbit.

I most recently made some barbecue goat and it was a similar struggle; the unfamiliar hits us doesn't it?

Great job and hello...I'm the new kid on the block in this group!

rosemarried said...

I'm so glad to hear that you were brave & prepared rabbit! And while I couldn't muster up the courage (because of my cute rabbit) I really do like eating rabbit -- and this looks DELICIOUS! Huge kudos to you for trying it! And anything tastes better with Prosecco. :)

Lana said...

There are few things in life that are better than the feeling of accomplishment after conquering something new. Now I need not one, but at least three rabbits, to make all these wonderful dishes!
I just love the Recipe Swap:)

Chef Dennis said...

Hi Ali

what an exceptional job you did with that rabbit! Now while I said I couldn't cook rabbit, I never said I couldn't eat rabbit, and you said the magic words when you said proseco! I love game meats with fruits and nuts too, they just go so well!
Great job on the recipe swap!
Cheers
Dennis

Jacqueline - The Dusty Baker said...

Alli - welcome to the swap! This dish looks incredible - I love the combination of a savory meat with sweet fruit and nuts. Your friends are so lucky!

Alli Shircliff said...

Thank you for everyone's supportive comments...it was quite a great experience! Everyone's recipes have been so much fun to read!

Lana said...

There are few things in life that are better than the feeling of accomplishment after conquering something new. Now I need not one, but at least three rabbits, to make all these wonderful dishes!
I just love the Recipe Swap:)

Shumaila said...

Kudos to you for going out of your comfort zone and cooking with rabbit. And coming up with such a scrumptious looking dish! Love the idea of the pecan and rosemary filling. Even though I doubt I'll ever cook rabbit, I would not mind eating it if someone else has prepared it. Yum!

jennifersign said...

Great post this sounds interesting and looks delicious. I'm going to grab a bottle of Prosecco and try this dish out this weekend.

Alli Shircliff said...

Thank you! Let me know how it goes!