July 9, 2008

Filed under: Uncategorized, North African, Game, Couscous, Slow cooked — ros @ 12:18 pm

What a backlash I got from that last post on braised rabbit! Luckily for me, the criticism wasn’t internet based but from people I could quite happily argue with face to face, namely my father and one of my students. It appears that the problem is not that I cooked a rabbit but that I used a picture of a bunny that was cute.

That’s it. If I’d used a picture of an ugly rabbit, no one would have cared. So, I did a long and tedious internet search to find a picture of a rabbit that wasn’t cute and fluffy to appease my father, but all I could find were these.

rabbit1

See my problem? Rabbits are naturally adorable despite being pests. After a lot of searching I did however manage to find a picture of the rabbit that is the one exception to this rule.

giant rabbit

Hmm…somehow I’m not entirely convinced that this rabbit really exists. 

Cuteness aside, there are a lot of good reasons for cooking up wild rabbits (I specify wild for a reason, see this post for more detail). If you avoid butchers and go for farmers’ markets, you’ll often find rabbits for around £4 each. That’s enough to feed at least two people, possibly three (or twenty if the rabbit is anything like the one in the last picture). The meat may take a while to cook but after a good long braise it will fall off the bone and it has a strong earthy taste that isn’t overpoweringly gamey. It’s versatile too. It works with light lemony flavours over pasta, in a cream sauce with paprika, in a curry (I’ve yet to try this but I believe it will work) or, as below, in a stew with aromatic North African flavours. 

I got the idea for this recipe on one of my many long walks through Islington. Once I mustered up enough cash to afford a trip to a restaurant (more on that later), I decided on the place I should visit by reading a lot of menus and deciding which one had the most dishes I couldn’t attempt myself. A Moroccan restaurant on Upper Street had an intriguing idea for a tagine of rabbit with pears and currants which I promptly stole before deciding to visiti the Latin American restaurant on the next street.

Rabbit ‘Tagine’ with Pears and Sultanas

 

fruity rabbit tagine

 

Ingredients

  •  wild rabbit, cleaned and jointed
  • 1 pinch saffron
  • 1 small/medium onion, finely diced
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 level teaspoon freshly ground cumin
  • 1 level teaspoon freshly ground coriander seed
  • 3 level teaspoons freshly ground cinnamon
  • 2 cubic inches ginger root, grated coarsley
  • enough chicken stock to cover the rabbit in a large saucepan (400ml or thereabouts)
  • handful of chopped coriander leaves
  • 1 tablespoon runny honey
  • half a handful sultanas
  • 2 pears, cored and cut into 6 or 8 slices, depending on size
  • couscous to serve

Method

  1. Wash the rabbit joints and pat dry
  2. Get a large saucepan really hot and then use it to brown the rabbit joints one, or two, at a time. Set the rabbit aside
  3. Turn the heat on the pan to very low. Add a splash of olive oil and the onions, garlic, ginger and spices.
  4. Allow to sweat gently for 5-10 minutes until the onion is soft.
  5. Add the stock, honey, saffron, sultanas and coriander leaf. Stir well, turn up the heat slightly and allow the mixture to bubble gently for a couple of minutes.
  6. Taste the sauce and adjust spicing.
  7. Add the rabbit to the saucepan and arrange to the rabbit is covered (or as close as you can manage) completely by the sauce. Bring this mixture to a simmer.
  8. Simmer for 2-3 hours, until the rabbit is tender.
  9. Strain the liquid off into another saucepan. Boil vigourously (well, as vigorously as you can without it spitting) until reduced by half. Add the pears and the remaining sultanas and boil gently until the pears are soft.
  10. Taste and adjust seasoning.
  11. Serve the rabbit joints with the sauce, pears and some couscous with almonds and/or vegetables.

March 30, 2008

Filed under: Uncategorized, Mediterranean, Game, Slow cooked — ros @ 11:09 pm

My food blog has had an unintended side effect since I started work as a teacher. It wasn’t all that suprising that my year 12s found their way to my blog from the maths pages I wrote for them but, how the year 9s discovered this place so quickly, I’ll never know.

I guess that’s the power of Google for you!

My newly acquired year 13 class have also become aware of the site and on occasion will use it as an excuse for avoiding practising statistics questions. The following conversation happened three quarters of the way into a practice lesson at the end of last term.

“So this food site of yours, what’s that about?”

This comment came from a student I’ll refer to as J. He is a confident lad who, on occasion, has succesfully confused me by switching places with his identical twin brother and who isn’t easily persuaded to get down to work. However, the Highgate maths department handbook had taught me the exact  phrase to use in this situation. Pity it never works.

“I don’t think my blog has anything to do with Binomial Hypothesis Testing.” 

As expected, J ignored my attempt to redirect him back to his work. “Are we ever going to try your cooking?”

“No, the school hasn’t got a kitchen. Otherwise I’d be running ‘Cooking at Univeristy’ courses for you lot.”
“You could bring us a cake?”
” I don’t do cake!”
“Or a casserole?”
“Get on with the worksheet, J!”
“But I can do all these questions, Miss.”
“J, you’re in Set 6*. The only reason you aren’t in Set 7 is beause we don’t have enough staff free to teach seven year 13 groups now. You need all the practice you can get.” At this, J started writing again. Around 30 seconds later, he’d given up.
“What’s your favourite restaurant?”

As I considered reaching for my book of detention slips, another student piped up.

“Is it Claridges?”
“Pah, Claridges!” said J.  ”It’s OK, but I’ve been to better places.”
I couldn’t help but raise an eyebrow to this. With my political ideologies quite firmly rooted in the right, I’d never believed in the term ‘overpriveledged’ before. However, as someone whose most distinguished treat as a child was a trip to the local Harvester, some of the boys at school were making me wonder.

“What’s your cooking speciality, Miss?”

This question came from the hard working member of this small group. At this point I conceded that no more work was going to get done that lesson and gave in. But what to answer?

“Well…. I suppose…. game …probably. ”

” Game, what’s that?”

Poor boy. What a thing to ask. When I was 18 in my own maths class, this would have been a perfectly reasonable question. However it seems that at Highgate, if you haven’t eaten game, you haven’t lived. The young lad was subject to a short torrent of abuse and a projectile pen.

Oddy enough though, the other five in the class couldn’t quite define game themselves other than to say “It’s like pheasant and stuff.” I would have said game is any wild animal that is eaten as food, but the definition is slightly wider.

“Game is any animal hunted for food or not normally domesticated (such as venison). Game animals are also hunted for sport.” (Wikipedia, the source of all knowledge)

So, for the young man in question, this is some game.

pheasant

Here is some game that I’m going to cook.

Here it is after preparation for cooking.

skinned rabbit

here is what you can make with it….

rabbit braised with red wine and olives

and here is how you do it. 

Rabbit Braised with Red Wine, Tomatoes and Olives 

Ingrdients 

  • 1 wild rabbit, cleaned and jointed
  • 400g chopped tomatoes
  • half a bottle good quality red wine
  • 20 black pitted olives, chopped in half
  • 1 large onon, ffinely diced
  • a handful of fresh basil leaves, roughly torn
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 level tablespoon fresh chopped oregano
  • 2 tablespoons tomato puree
  • salt and freshly ground black pepper 

Rough Method

  1. Preheat your oven to gas mark 2-3. 
  2. Brown the rabbit pieces on all sides. Place in a casserole dish that fits them snugly.
  3. Sweat the onions and garlic with the oregano in the olive oil until soft.
  4. Add the tomatoes, red wine, puree and olives. Stir well and bring to a gentle boil.
  5. One the mixture has reduced to a thick sauce, stir in  half the basil.
  6. Add salt and pepper to taste.
  7. Pour the sauce over the rabbit pieces and place in the oven.
  8. After three hours the rabbit should be tender. Pour the sauce off into a wide saucepan and bring it to a bubble to reduce it. At this stage you can adjust the ingredients to taste as much a you like.
  9. Stir in the remaining basil.
  10. Taste, adjust seasoning and serve the rabbit with the sauce poured over it with some soft polenta with parmesan or, if you’d run out like me, with some penne tossed in parmesan and parsley.

 

* We set by ability with 1 being the highest.

June 19, 2006

Filed under: Wild red meat, Game, Unusual meat — ros @ 8:23 am

Well, maybe it wasn’t exactly a Wellington, but it was wrapped in pastry.

Another day, another new meat to try. This time it is the South African antelope, kudu, which is steadily growing in popularity amongst game eaters in Britain. I’ve been inspired by this page at the BBC and, reading that rose flavours work well with game, I thought I’d try it out on my kudu steaks.

There is an Iranian (I think) shop on my way to college and I found a selection of rose condiments there. I got some rose petal jam to make a paste to smother on the steaks. I mixed the jam with some lemon juice and zest, wrapped the entire thing in a rosemary and thyme crepe, covered it in puff pastry and baked it. It nearly worked very well. The problem was, the pastry wouldn’t rise!

Icouldn’t understand it. Usually gas mark 7 for 15 minutes will suffice. This time  it didn’t show signs of  puffing for about 25 minutes. After 40 mintes it was ready. This was all fine apart from the fact the kudu was now well done. I wanted it rare. I was annoyed.

Apart from that it was great. Kudu is very tender and juicy. I had it with lemon and coriander cous-cous. I had a bit of rose petal jam left so I made a sauce by mixing it with some white wine, cinnamon  and half a capful of cherry brandy, just to give it extra richness. It seems that cherries+roses+game=tasty. It’s definitely one to try with venison and pigeon. 

So, for those of you who like your meat well done, this is a good way to do kudu. Full details are here.

Next time I’m making my own pastry. :(

May 22, 2006

Filed under: Uncategorized, Mediterranean, Game, Carb Based Dishes, Rice, Sausages — ros @ 3:28 pm

This happened in true “Ready Steady Cook” style last Sunday. There was a French rabbit in the freezer, chorizo in the fridge, a big pan and not a lot of space anywhere. Paella was the obvious choice. Fortunately, it turned out to be a tasty choice too, although its construction turned out to be quite stressful.

It should have happened like THIS. But that would be far too easy.

Problem number 1: No Paella rice. Solution - substitute Japanese sushi rice and believe it or not… it worked!

Problem number 2: No red pepper.  Solution- stir in  some red pepper soup and put in fresh chopped tomato for colour.

Problem number 3: No herbs. No solution to this one. I just prayed there’d be enough herbiness in the stock to make up for it.

Problem number 4: The chorizo was covered in a shrink wrap plastic that I mistook for the chorizo skin. I’d added half the chorizo before I noticed and spent a while picking plastic out of the pan.

Problem number 5: The rabbit was looking at me funny. No - not really a problem but why leave the head on the rabbit when packing it? It’s pretty useless. Isn’t that weird? Guess it isn’t in France. Also we had a freak rabbit with a disturbingly big liver.

After all that we eventually had a paella that was very nice apart from the occasional bit of chorizo plastic floating about. We paired it with a nice Rioja and some dolmades we found in the freezer.