Thursday, February 12, 2009

Braised Rabbit

A friend of mine who is a dedicated gourmand recently commented that it seems like I truly enjoy being gluten-free. It's true; I look upon it as a culinary challenge, and my restriction has brought me to many a recipe that I would not have found if I could just eat a sandwich every night. I actually feel like my options have expanded and that I've become a better cook since I've started this diet. That I am capable of easily digesting everything I now cook helps to reinforce my gluten-free ways.

My aforementioned friend has introduced me to some new recipes and techniques for making dishes that are traditionally gluten-free. The project we worked on most recently was braised rabbit - an animal that I had only eaten once and had never cooked. Rabbit is not readily available in most butcher shops, but you should ask about special orders at a specialty butcher shop. Or, substitute chicken, lamb, or another meat.

Braising is a technique that produces a very tender meat. The idea is to simmer your choice in a liquid over low heat for a few hours. The liquid and seasonings you use can vary widely and don't have to be done the same way twice. With this type of recipe I rarely measure the ingredients, but instead use my eye and instinct for my measure. The following is a general re-construction of how we prepared our amazing meal.

First, chop into small pieces:

1/3 onion
1 small leek

Heat in a small pot:

1-2 cups vegetable stock (most people use chicken stock)

Heat on medium-high in a 4-quart stock pot:

1/4 cup olive oil

Sear in the olive oil:

2 rabbit hindquarters

When you turn over the pieces to sear the other side, throw in the onion and leek to let the vegetables brown a little. When the meat is nicely browned on both sides, add to the pot:

1-2 cups stock
3/4 bottle of dry white wine
1-2 Tbsp. chopped fresh dill
1-2 Tbsp. chopped fresh sage
Pepper to taste

Bring the liquid to a simmer. Turn the heat down and let the liquid stay at a low simmer for 2-3 hours, covered, making sure the liquid always tops the meat. If the level of the liquid gets too low you can add more wine, stock, or water. Turn the meat at least once during the course of cooking. When you have about 30 minutes left to go, add:

salt to taste
more herbs and spices to taste

When the rabbit is done pull it out of the liquid, salt it, and let it rest for a few minutes before serving. We served ours with sauteed greens and baked polenta. I realized after we made the whole meal that the only dairy we used was a little bit of goat cheese in the greens, which could have easily been omitted for a gluten-free, dairy-free meal.


Rebecca said...

That is a good point about restrictive diets forcing you to branch out and become more adventurous. The irony! I feel the same way about being vegetarian. (I guess I won't be trying your rabbit recipe anytime soon.) So many people who can eat meat, wheat, and everything else might limit themselves to the same five boring ingredients. Jay Leno, for example, has not eaten a vegetable since the 1960s. Yes, it is true.

l'actrice said...

I agree gluten free has made me a better cook too, Gina. I'm full of new ideas. i love the way you cook a piece of meat. It's my favorite way! You are a wonderful cook!