It’s right around this time of year, just after I have completed all the yard work in anticipation of the first snowfall, that things go very much casserole/stew/braise-ward in our kitchen. Whilst I have been known to make such dishes throughout all seasons, it’s that crisp frisson in the late Autumnal air that has me stretching for the cast iron pots a few times a week.
By way of a celebration to commemorate the arrival of my lovely new mustard-coloured Staub oval cocotte (read: Dutch Oven), I decided to play about with the traditional Carbonade a la Flamande and introduce one of my favourite ingredients, rabbit.
This French Flemish favourite would historically be one of beef braised in Belgian ale, but last week I had the realisation last that the same method would most probably work rather deliciously with a disassembled and then carefully browned bunny.
If you’ve never cooked rabbit previously, don’t be scared, just treat it like a really lean chicken and ensure that it isn’t allowed to dry out. Dry and stringy rabbit is no fun whatsoever, in fact it is probably dry and stringy rabbit that has put some folks off eating bunnies for life… well, that and the emotional connection to cutesy, flopsy-eared pets and woodland creatures. Tasty, tasty, cutesy, flopsy-eared woodland creatures.
Naturally, a beast with this particular kind of muscle/fat ratio really lends itself to braising, and it’s this line of thinking that led to this Rabbit Carbonade adventure.
The resultant hearty supper turned out to be one for the ages, a real winner with all the family, even our little 19-month-old lad (just be careful to take out all the tiny bones before feeding to children and annoyingly picky adults).
Saying that, in my mind, there’s certainly something to be said for picking up the bits of rabbit in your hands to pick off all the last morsels of juicy meat from the small bones. It almost makes one feel as if one has upped and joined Robin Hood’s Merry Men, and I think that’s a good thing, no?
As we brace for the freezing ravages of our Canadian winter, I can see this becoming a regular menu item at Chez Drummond from here on in.
Edinburgh-born/Toronto-based Sommelier, consultant, writer, judge, and educator Jamie Drummond is the Director of Programs/Editor of Good Food Revolution… And damn that cast iron Staub is a lovely thing.