Saturday, November 20, 2010

A Wild Hare for Stew

Bunnies. They're cuddly, fuzzy, adorable - and oh so delicious! And they are definitely on the menu tonight!

Every now and again, one of our local markets brings in some rabbit. I've been getting a strong craving for a good rabbit stew for some time now and so I jumped on the opportunity to pick up a little while I had the chance. Unfortunately, I could only get a 2 lb. rabbit. I would have preferred more like 3 lbs.

There are several methods of going about making Rabbit Stew. Having just acquired a couple of cases of 2006 Mia's Playground Pinot Noir, I thought it would be appropriate to use that as a base for the stew. I added a bit of homemade chicken stock as well, as I thought it might compliment the flavor. If you do this recipe at home, you should know that I make my chicken stock strong - a 1/2 cup of mine is the same as at least a cup of store bought stock. I also thought that using sweet potato instead of Yukon Golds. (Note that when I say sweet potato that I am not referring to yams, which are orange in color, but to white colored sweet potatoes which are a different species entirely.) With fresh herbs from the garden and double-smoked bacon from the Russian market down the street, I was ready to prepare a mean pot of rabbit stew!

To begin, take a stock pot and, over medium heat, rend the fat from:
6-8 oz. slab bacon, cut into 1/4" cubes
Once the bacon is crispy and the fat has been rendered, remove the bacon and set it aside, leaving the fat in the pan. In a large plate, whisk together:
1/2 c flour
1 t kosher salt
1/2 t black pepper
Clean, dry and then dredge in the flour:
3 lbs. rabbit
Brown the rabbit in bacon grease over medium heat. You may have to do this in 2 or 3 batches. If you need more fat, use bacon grease if you have it or vegetable oil if you don't. When rabbit is nice and brown, remove it from the pan and set aside. Add to the pot:
1 medium onion, coarsely chopped
1 c chopped celery
Saute in stock pot, stirring up the fond from the bottom of the pot. After about 5 minutes or so, when the onion and celery begin to become tender, add:
4 large garlic cloves, minced
Stir the garlic into the onions and cook for about a minute. Add:
a bottle of good Pinot Noir
4 c water
1/2 c chicken stock
1 t dry mustard
Increase the heat until the liquid begins to simmer and add the rabbit, bacon, and an herb bundle consisting of:
2 large sprigs rosemary
2 sprigs thyme
1 bay leaf
Cover and simmer for about 2 hours. Open a second bottle of Pinot and drink it while you wait. It was about this time that a couple of friends dropped by, one of whom brought a bunch of chanterelle mushrooms that he had picked. They were beautiful and fresh and I couldn't resist the idea of adding them to the stew.
After 2 hours, remove the herb bundle from the pot. Make a beurre manie by mixing together:
2 T melted butter
2 T flour
Mix well and add in some of the liquid from the pot. Continue to do this until the beurre manie is runny, then whisk the mixture back into the soup. Add in:
2 medium sweet potatoes, diced
2 carrots, sliced
In a saute pan, cook over medium heat:
1 T butter
1 c chopped chanterelle mushrooms
a pinch of salt and a dash of pepper
Cook the mushrooms until they are heated through but still firm. Just before the vegetables are cooked (which should take about 20 minutes), add the mushrooms. Adjust seasonings as necessary. Remove from the heat and serve with lots of napkins!

The mushrooms were just the ingredient the stew needed. It gave the stew an even more rustic flavor and reminded me a bit of boeuf bourguinon. The unfortunate thing was that the rabbit I purchased was rather lean on meat and left us working hard for minimal return. Still, it was delicious and went well with the pumpernickel rolls I had on hand. All in all, a very tasty meal!


  1. A cup of chanterelles! Oh you Pacific Northwesterners. That one breaks the bank for the rest of us. But our rabbits are plump.

  2. What we seem to be lacking in plump bunnies we have to make up for with wild mushrooms. Gotta do what ya gotta do, right? :-)
    Thanks for reading!