As you can maybe see in the previous post, we nailed us a rabbit on the last bird hunt. I hadn’t eaten a rabbit in a lot of years, so it brought to mind an old recipe that I hadn’t thought of for a lot of years. Wild game stew… best with rabbit or venison… Mmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm. Borepatch posted up a discussion of how he learned to cut up a rabbit, which cued me to write up my recipe for all to use. I’m a very giving person.
Rabbit is best stewed in the crockpot. Like most wild critters that have to earn their living the hard way, they are very lean and very tough (but much healthier than farm-raised beef and totally organic, so there’s that), so the crockpot is the bomb for cooking them. Try this:
Don’t worry about de-boning the rabbit. Cut the legs off, cut out the backstraps, and discard the ribs and backbone. Throw the legs with bones in and backstrap aside for a little bit. Cut up a big onion, a bunch of green onions, stems and all, about 3 to 5 sticks of celery, and if you like a little kick, a bell pepper (you can leave this part out if you like a more traditional stew, but with the bell pepper, this dish meets the requirements of the Cajun “trinity” and can technically be considered a Cajun dish, especially if you add a bunch of red pepper to spice it up). Heat 1 cup of cooking oil (peanut, canola) in a 5 quart stockpot until it is good and hot, over high to medium high heat. Whisk in 1 cup of flour to the hot oil to create a roux. Turn the heat down to medium. Stir the roux constantly until it is about the color of dark chocolate (about 5 to 10 minutes). Throw in the onions and celery and peppers and cook them in the roux until they get all translucent and release their aromas. You may have to turn the heat back up once you put in the veggies. I also add a couple cloves of chopped garlic at this point (forgot to mention that earlier). Throw in the rabbit pieces, a palm full (1 to 1.5 tbs) of crushed rosemary, and the same amount of dried oregano. Stir around to coat all the pieces in the roux, then put about 6 cups of water into the mess (or more if needed to completely submerge everything). Add ½ to one tablesppon of salt (start low and add once it’s cooked and you can taste it). About 7 or 8 turns on your black pepper mill. Reduce heat and simmer for 2 hours, to reduce the water or alternatively, take it off the heat, refrigerate overnight, then dump it in the crock pot the next morning on the 8 hour setting so it’s ready to eat once you get home. Either way, right prior to eating, pull the rabbit pieces out one at a time, and strip the meat off back into the stew and discard the bones.
My wife likes to add a pouch of onion soup mix to the water before she adds it, too. I’ve also added cut up potatoes to the stew about one hour before it’ done cooking. Don’t add them too soon or you’ll end up with potato mash instead of potato chunks. I’ve also added richness to the mix by substituting some of the water with cans of undrained diced tomatoes and/or tomato sauce. If you added the bell pepper earlier, once you’ve added the tomatoes, there’s no going back; you’re officially a true Cajun cook because you’ve very officially made an official Cajun Sauce Piquant now. Officially. And rabbit as the meat couldn’t be more authentic Cajun (except maybe for alligator). Mais, ami you might as well throw in a teaspoon of cayenne pepper and finish it off right at this point…
If you do it right, you’ll have a thick, meaty stew to eat that will make you wish you’d never ever run out of rabbit ever again. I make this on the weekend and reheat it during the week for quick after-work heartiness. You can also use any other kind of meat you can imagine, too. Beef, chicken (add the chicken in the last hour – overcooked chicken is awful), other wild game (this recipe is absolutely amazing with venison). Anyway, you get the point. Happy eating.