Monday, February 20, 2012

Culinary Adventure Series--Rabbit Stew

When I picked the boys up from school, Jackson asked the question I hear every day from at least one of the kids: what are we having for dinner tonight?  When I was a kid and asked that question, my mom would answer, "Poison."  (love you, Mom!)  That annoyed me as a kid, but now I can totally relate.  Today, when I said we'd be having rabbit stew, he said, "What does that mean, is it stew that has lots of carrots in it?"  I told him no, we weren't alluding to rabbits by having a carrot-filled stew...we were actually having a rabbit in our stew.

Prior to living here, I had never thought about eating rabbits; I had a grey lop-eared rabbit (aptly named 'Fluff'--I was quite the literal child, and clearly lacked creativity) as a pet when I was 8.  I'm not particularly fond of rabbits per se, and in my mind, meat is meat is meat, so if you're going to be eating one you might as well eat the other (with some exceptions--I'm not keen to eat a squirrel or a rat).  I really had no idea people even ate rabbits, until I happened upon a whole, skinned rabbit in its package on my first trip to an Australian grocery store.  Even though rabbits are not a quintessentially Australian animal, I do want to spend this year eating as many new foods as I can, so rabbit stew hopped (ha! see the creative pun!) its way onto our weekly dinner menu.

I like the fact that both kangaroo and rabbit are wild-caught; no kangaroos or rabbits spend their lives in terrible, cramped conditions with the sole purpose of being killed for food like the vast majority of cattle used for beef sold in grocery stores.  That alone makes it worth trying, in my book.

Armed with a few different recipes that I took a little bit of this and that from, I set to work.  And work it was, in the beginning--I've never dealt with the dismembering of an animal before (other than peeling and deveining whole prawns), and it's a bit uncomfortable and awkward to hack with a knife, tear at joints and separate vertebrae and ribs, etc.  I'm saying this, even though I spent a semester in college fully dissecting human cadavers, examining every inch of the bodies, inside and out.

ANYWAY; that is a whole other blog post.  This introduction has surely whet your appetite, so let's get going.  I've included my recipe just in case you find yourself with a whole, skinned rabbit anytime in the near future...
Chop carrots, onions, and bacon (I would have also used celery but I didn't have any)
*side note--Australian bacon isn't nearly as tasty as American bacon; it's one of the things that all of us miss here.*
Cook the bacon, and then sear the rabbit until browned.  Remove from pot and set aside.
Add the vegetables and some garlic and cook, stirring, for a few minutes until softened.  Add about a cup of red wine and deglaze.
Place the meat back into the pot, along with a bundle of fresh thyme, marjoram, a bay leaf, and a cinnamon stick.  I also added about a cup of chicken broth because Sam likes his food saucy.

I left it to simmer, covered, until the meat was cooked through, about 45 minutes.  Add salt and pepper to taste.  Meanwhile, I made polenta for the base.
A scoop of polenta, a scoop of stew, and dinner was served.

The verdict?  The stew was amazing; delicious, flavorful...the rabbit meat was great where the meat was thicker, but a little chewy on the thinner parts by the ribs.  Not gamey at all; it really resembled chicken and I think if the meat was off the bone I wouldn't be able to tell the difference between the two.  I loved the polenta.

Sam ate the meat--he's no animal activist but couldn't quite get past the cute rabbit side of things, so although he thought the stew was wonderful, he'd prefer to have it with veggies only or with chicken.

Jackson, who is thrilled by free airplane breakfasts, ate his whole portion.

Alex ate the meat and stew but wasn't a fan of the polenta.
Kenyon wasn't a fan of the polenta either, but man, he knows how to put away the meat!  A massive rabbit boneyard was heaped next to his bowl.  And I'm guessing he didn't have a problem with the fact that ate an adorable, fluffy little creature, either--while brushing his teeth tonight, he said, "Mom, there's bunny between my teeth that won't come out!"

If that isn't a ringing endorsement for this dish, I don't know what is!


  1. I am SO making this recipe soon! Our nearby Asian supermarket has rabbit (albeit frozen). I'm looking forward to having bunny between my teeth, too.

  2. that's disgusting! and for your information, rabbits are kept in intensive battery conditions in Australia, too: