Saturday, February 7, 2015

Rabbit Stew

This is the time of year I see a lot of rabbit damage on our trees and on any exposed greens tucked in the corners of the beds. We are lucky enough to have a neighbor who hunts the multitude of cottontail rabbits that threaten to eat my entire garden and reduce my fruit trees to barkless sticks.

The neighbor and his buddy shoot with muzzle loaders – one uses an antique musket. When they shoot, it sounds like cannon fire instead of gunshot. They bring a rabbit dog [beagle] and they spend a happy afternoon roaming the brush on our place scaring out the rabbits. This past weekend they scored four rabbits. They skinned and prepped them and then brought us two of them to eat. We love rabbit stew!

We brine it overnight and then slow cook it all day the next day. Here are the details.

Rabbit Stew

Brine [Enough for 1-3 rabbits]

1 rabbit, skinned and cut into parts [4 legs and the back section]
3 cups water
1/3 cup salt
2 garlic cloves
1 bay leaf

Coating [Enough for 1 rabbit. Multiply for more rabbits]

Ground pepper [a few grinds. More if you love pepper]
½ cup flour
2 teaspoons dried thyme

Stew [Enough for 1 rabbit. Multiply for more rabbits.]
Bacon grease or butter
3-6 mushrooms [or more]
1 onion
1 quart water
3 cubes chicken bouillon

Cooking directions:

Day 1: Brining
Mix the brine and soak the rabbit pieces in it overnight. That is enough brine for 1-3 rabbits. Keep it in the fridge.  Discard when finished.  Do not use the brine to cook with; it's way too salty.

Day 2: Stewing
Cut up the mushrooms and brown them in a large skillet with some of the butter or bacon grease.

While they are cooking, make the coating. Mix the flour, pepper and thyme in a dish. Coat the meat on all sides.

When the mushrooms are done, put them in the crockpot and brown the rabbit with more grease in the skillet. You’re not trying to cook it all the way, just brown it.

While the rabbit is cooking, slice up the onion and drop it in the crockpot.

When the rabbit is browned, put it in the crockpot with the bouillon cubes.

Pour the water into the skillet to deglaze and get the crispies all out of the pan. After a couple of minutes, even the really stuck ones will come right off the pan. Once they’re soft, scrape the water and everything into the crockpot.

Cook on high for 6-8 hours. We have also cooked this in a cast iron pot on the stove all day.

Once the meat is done, decide if the gravy is thick enough. You can whisk more flour in if you need to thicken it up. OR, you can drop in some noodles or rice and let them soak up the gravy as they cook.

You can drop some veg in there for the last hour if you like – chopped carrots, peas, potatoes, etc.

Nota Bene: If your hunters are using shotguns, make sure you watch for shot pellets in every bite. You don’t want to chip a tooth.

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