March 04, 2006

Bunny dinner

I eat a lot of things that are considered iffy or even downright questionable here on the west coast. I'm not particularly squeamish or sentimental about food or animals, although I prefer that any animals that are rasied for food are raised and killed under humane conditions. If you think that rabbits make better pets than dinner, you may want to skip this post.

I like French food. Thus, I am ever drawn to dishes than include things like foie gras, and happy to eat steak tartare (from a reputable source, of course), and my enthusiasm for duck is well documented. Another favourite has got to be rabbit. My usual preparation for rabbit is Lapin Dijon, which is baked in a sauce featuring white wine, shallots, and of course Dijon mustard. It is a dish that goes particularly well with freshly roasted asparagus, and to me is suggestive of spring, although I'm not ruling out some unhealthy connection with Easter running through my ragged little brain.

I am fortunate in that Palle shares my culinary partialities, because while I know some couples who have wildly divergent dietary preferences are able to overcome the hurdle and live happily ever after, I don't know that I could do the same thing. I certainly wouldn't want to have to. Not only is he interested in eating good food, however, he's also interested in cooking it.

Armed with a copy of Anthony Bourdain's Les Halles Cookbook, he set about making Lapin aux olives, a dish where the olives are so plentiful as to count as a vegetable rather than a garnish. This recipe also marked a first-foray into the world of demi-glace - the using thereof, rather than the making - and the resulting dish is entirely his. My main contribution was to dig out the instructions that I had made for him on the way to cook a perfect pot of jasmine rice, and to ask him if the tiny green picholine olives had come pitted; they had not. Fortunately, there was enough lagtime in the simmering process to give him time to get to work with on the olives, but it was certainly time well spent.
The recipe called for the hind legs only, and served four. Therfore, two rabbits were called for, and the remaining rabbit pieces are currently sitting in the freezer while we dither over whether to try the luscious-looking recipe from Book A, or the simple elegance of the one from Book B. At the moment, the forerunners are my new book Bones by Jennifer McLagan, and the always- wonderful D'Artagnan's Glorious Game Cookbook. I'll keep you posted with the winner, as always.


linda said...

I am a rabbit fan as well, but I remember how traumatised some of my classmates were when we did the lamb dishes in school and had to break down a whole rabbit...
What do you think of the cookbook Bones? I have been eyeing it a Barbra Jo's, but I am not in a position to splurge at the moment..

Dawna said...

Hi Linda - good to hear we're not alone! I haven't had a chance to cook from Bones yet, but it's next on the list, and therefore might be the winner in the Great Bunny Debate. There are quite a number of rabbit recipes in it, so I'm sure something will strike our fancy.

I love Barbara Jo's. They love Palle, who puts in a profitable appearance around Christmas and my birthday! I'm fairly sure that's where he got my copy of Bones.

Randi said...

We went to Ann Arbor a couple weeks ago and we wanted to go to the italian dinner at Zingermans. It was an all you can eat thing for 35$ a person. The main dish was rabbit so I had to pass this time because I just can't bring myself to eat it. Even if it does taste like chicken

Alice said...

I quite enjoy rabbit, especially in stewed preparations. My favourite is cooked slowly with calamata olives and balsamic vinegar and a fair bit of thyme. The only strange moment I have cooking rabbit is when I take the cleaver to it (it's never already cut up where I buy it); the cat is usually swirling around my ankles, and there is definitely a physical similarity between a cat and a rabbit.

I've been liking your posts!