I know I sometimes take it a bit too far with the organization thing. I like knowing what’s happening when. And I also like being the one to decide things. Especially when it comes to food. I have control issues, I admit it.
Last Sunday I had things nicely planned out, at least in terms of dinner. I was very excited to cook the boned rabbit I had bought at the farmers’ market the week before. Thawed out on Friday, marinated on Saturday, ready to grill on Sunday. I’d never grilled rabbit before, so I was very excited to give it a go.
My trip to the market that morning was going to provide me with some early zucchini, and a couple of bunches of asparagus, to grill as well. Some bruschetta and that would be dinner.
Well, things don’t always go according to plan. The trip to the farmers’ market was thwarted by a marathon which meant we couldn’t cross the city. And the grilling? After three weeks of gorgeous weather, of course the minute I opted to grill the heavens opened for the mother of all storms.
I know I could have rolled the rabbit up, for a roast type of thing. But somehow that seemed so wintery. I opened the fridge and found that I did in fact have some odds and ends left over from the market the week before: four spring onions, a half a bunch of asparagus, six tiny artichokes and some fresh garlic.
Although I’d never had it, I thought a spring rabbit stew seemed like a good idea. (isn’t there something French called Daube de Lapin?) Although I’d made Marcella‘s stewed rabbit in the past, it had always been with the bones in, and so was sort of fussy to eat. The huge slab of bunny meat meant I could cut it up into elegant, bite sized pieces, brown it and then cook it up with all the spring vegetables.
I was tempted to add potatoes too (we had just gotten a few kilos from our friend Paolo, who grows them in Tuscany) but decided the juices of the stew would be better served by topping creamy mashed potatoes on the side.
If you can find rabbit, use rabbit. It really is delicious and has a completely different flavor from other meat. That said, if you can’t find it (or don’t want to find it) then I think this would also be delicious with chicken. But NOT just boned chicken breast please. If you must use chicken, use equal parts of dark meat as well. Promise?
Spring Rabbit Stew
1 kilo/ 2 pounds rabbit meat
6 cloves garlic
3 tablespoons chopped fresh rosemary
2 tablespoons olive oil
4 spring onions
1 bunch of asparagus (about 20)
2 spring garlics
salt & pepper
1 1/2 cups white wine
1 cup flour
Finely chop the garlic and rosemary and rub it all over the rabbit, along with olive oil, salt and pepper. Let marinate overnight.
Cut the rabbit meat up into bite size pieces, about 1.5 inches.
Prepare artichokes: take off outer leaves and choke and cut into quarters. (see here for instructions) Set aside in acidulated water until ready to use.
Wash the asparagus and cut into 2 inch pieces until ready to use. Discard the tough part of the stalks.
Place flour in a dish, and generously season with salt and pepper.
Pour olive oil into a saute pan with high side. Pour in enough olive oil to cover the bottom by about 1/4 inch. Coat rabbit pieces in flour, shake off excess and add to hot oil. Brown well on each side. This should take about 4 to six minutes. And you’ll probably have to do it in a few batches. You don’t want the meat to crowd. You want it to get a nice golden color. Set aside the rabbit as it is browned.
After you’ve taken out the rabbit, add the chopped spring onion. salt and pepper, to the pan, stirring and scraping up the browned bits. Add the artichokes, and stir. Add about a cup of water, stirring and let the artichokes cook for about four minutes.
Add the rabbit and spring garlic and stir well. Add the wine, and let this cook off for about 4 minutes. Add a bit more water, stir, and cover. Let cook at low heat for about 25 minutes. Add a bit more water if you think you need to.
(In the meantime make your mashed potatoes)
Add the chopped asparagus and cook for about another 8 minutes, until they are tender. Taste and adjust for salt and pepper.
Serve with mashed potatoes.
Note: Like most stews, it is even better the next day. But if you do hold it over, you may want to postpone adding the asparagus you reheat it, since they lose their vibrant green color very fast. If you don’t that’s ok too. You just won’t get those lovely green spears.