Hippity, hoppity, into my belly you go!

January 13, 2010

Many things in life baffle me. Several that are on my mind right now are:
1) Why on earth the Director of Uniforms at the Pittsburgh Pirates insists on dressing the team in those heinous baseball vests. They a major fashion don't. Sure, they were big in the '70's, but now they are ugly. Maybe their seventeen consecutive losing seasons can be blamed on the fact that they hate what they are wearing. I, for one, feel better about myself when I put on a cute outfit.
2) What the hell was the person driving the SmartCar buying at Ikea this weekend? He or she was there longer than I was, and I was there for two hours. I'm sorry, but most of the SNERGS and FLOYVECS that one buys at Ikea cannot fit in a SmartCar.
3)And finally (here's where I get back to talking about food), why are so many meat-eaters skeeved at the idea of eating rabbit? Is it because you had one as a class pet? Because they are cute? Well, the ones you eat were never someone's pet, they are actually big and not-so-cute (think Bunnicula) and lambs are cute, and if you eat meat you probably eat lamb for Easter every year at your mom's house. So please consider yourself debunked of the myth that eating rabbit is weird. Because rabbit is really delicious.

Rabbit braised in wine and tomato sauce, from Gourmet magazine
Serves 4

1 rabbit, cut into 8 pieces* (you'll probably have a neck and a tailbone piece too - toss those in for flavor)
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
olive oil
2 medium onions, sliced
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
2 strips fresh orange zest

2 bay leaves
1/2 cup red wine
2 cups canned crushed tomatoes
a pinch of cinnamon
1/2 cup water

8 ounces dried egg tagliatelle or egg fettuccine
1 tablespoon butter
1/4 cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Season the rabbit pieces with half the salt and pepper. Heat some olive oil in a heavy dutch oven and brown the rabbit pieces. Remove the browned rabbit to a plate and add the onions, garlic, orange zest and bay to the pot. Cook until onions start to brown, about 5 minutes. Deglaze the pot with the wine, scraping up the browned bits. Add the pinch of cinnamon, tomatoes and water. Tuck the rabbit pieces in so they are as covered by the sauce as possible. Bring to a bubble, then cover and put in the oven. Cook for 30 minutes, then flip all the rabbit pieces over, again tucking them in under the sauce. Braise for another 30 minutes.

Meanwhile, boil the pasta. Toss the cooked pasta with the butter, parsley and salt to taste. Serve the rabbit and sauce over the noodles. (Note: my favorite pieces are the ribs and legs. Please remember this if I come to your house for rabbit.)

*If you want to see before/after pictures on cutting up a whole rabbit, click on the link below. NSFV (not safe for vegetarians)

Basic Rabbit Butchering

Here is what the rabbit looks like when you buy it. It will usually come with the organs. What you do with these is your business - I guess you could toss them in the pot, but since I didn't do that, I don't feel comfortable recommending it. I was going to make pate, but then I just threw them away.

And below, we have the rabbit cut up. To get to this point, first remove the back legs at the joints. Meat cleavers love this job, but a good solid chopping knife will work too. Then remove the front legs, also at the joints. Cut off the tail piece and the neck. Now you just have the body. Make one cut across the body under the ribs. Now you have two body halves. The top half has the ribs. Cut this in half along the spine, so you have two teeny tiny racks of ribs. For the other body half, cut it the opposite way - perpendicular to the spine. Taaa-daaa! You just cut up a rabbit!