Tuesday is Valentine’s Day, and if you’re the guy in the kitchen and you’re not eating out, you probably know in advance what you plan on cooking. And if you’ve been reading this blog for any time, and if you have any sense of your own, you have already done your shopping for the big night.
But if you haven’t yet gotten ready, I have a money-saving, potentially romance-saving tip: Make a rabbit stew, it’ll be far less expensive than eating out, and you’ll have a night you’ll always remember. I’ve written before about how crowd pleasing rabbit can be. Rabbit seems to get everybody excited. It sounds so exotic and sophisticated, but it’s really as easy to cook as chicken (at least almost), as easy to prepare (almost), and as tasty (more so).
The following rabbit-stew recipe is an old one, and I’m not sure where I found it. I first made it some fifteen years ago for two close friends, and then in an unintended coincidence, I made it for the same friends again just recently. I remembered it as delicious, and it was. It’s a combination of bacon and sage, with a dash of Balsamic vinegar over a base of chicken stock and white wine.
What I didn’t remember is how simple it is. It can be made in less time than it takes to pick out a Valentine’s Day card on Feb. 13th. And don’t fret if you don’t yet have a rabbit. Check with your local butcher, and if you don’t have one near where you live, D’Artagnan can ship you one overnight. You can do it.
Rabbit Stew with Sage and Bacon
- 4 slices of bacon
- 3 or more garlic cloves
- 6 or more fresh sage leaves
- Flour for dredging (optional)
- Salt and pepper to taste
- 1 3lb rabbit, cut into pieces*
- ¼ cup olive or other vegetable oil
- 2 cups chicken or vegetable stock
- 1 tsp. Balsamic vinegar
- 1 cup dry white wine
Chop the bacon in to small pieces.
Mince the garlic.
Chop the sage in to small pieces.
Combine the bacon, garlic, and sage, and mince again until nearly a paste.
Combine the flour and the salt and pepper and dredge the rabbit pieces in the flour
Heat the olive oil in the bottom of a large casserole, and fry the rabbit until brown. Turn as necessary.
Remove the pieces as they brown. Don’t crowd the pan. Work in batches if necessary. Set pieces aside.
Drain off any excess oil, and add the bacon/garlic/sage mixture, and cook on moderate heat for about three minutes.
Add the Balsamic vinegar and wine, and simmer for about five minutes.
Add the rabbit and the stock, cover, and simmer for about forty-five minutes, stirring every so often and adding stock if necessary to keep the meat moist.
Remove the meat when it is tender and reduce the sauce.
Serve over couscous or rice, or with a piece of hearty bread.
*Cutting up a rabbit is easy. It’s just like cutting up a chicken, if a chicken had four legs. Cut the back ones off at the joint (always driving the knife through the knuckle of the joint; find it by moving the limb back and forth), and cut the front legs off the same way. Cut the legs in two at the joints. Take a cleaver, and hack the saddle (the long part with the backbone) into about three pieces. You can do it.