Spring is slow in coming here this year. As if it isn’t sure if we are ready.
Ready for rebirth, ready for lushness, ready for the new chances and opportunities that spring brings to nature. And symbolically to us.
Are we prepared to accept the challenge? Are we ready to enjoy and revel in the greenness of the new grass sprouting? The pretty flowers and the budding fruit trees. Are we ready to leave winter’s cold and downtrodden thoughts behind?
Nature is challenging us. To think hard. To take a closer look in order to find the sprouting newness. But also to take care by putting on a warm coat for the morning remains of the still frosty nights.
Spots of color, morning birdsong, clearer early light, and bluer skies are calling to us: to take up the challenge, embrace the newness, see the opportunities.
I say: I am ready, bring it on!! I’m done with the sadness and cold of winter, ready for the cheery newness, prepared for the challenges and opportunities ahead.
And while we wait for spring to believe us, to turn on the April showers that bring May flowers, we still yearn for the comfort of hearty dishes to take the chill off that settles like the frosty evening dew, or the cool wind that catches us when we walk in the shade.
But the time for heavy stews and casseroles is behind us, we need something that is comforting but light and like spring tastes of the promise of the delightful summer treats ahead. Not beef, or lamb, or pork or chicken, but something we don’t make a thousand times, something different.
I chose rabbit.
Rabbit is a light meat with almost no fat and therefore perfect for stewing. Letting the sauce develop its own tasty glory by mingling the flavors of new fennel and carrots, the old winter favorite leeks, the tastiness of marinated olives and a fresh white wine. With no fat except some tasty bacon, some early olive oil. No need to skim or congeal and reheat. Light, tasty, warming.
Perfect for spring and new beginnings!
Rabbit Stew with White Wine, Carrots, Fennel and Olives
Rabbit Stew with White Wine, Carrots, Fennel and Olives
Inspired among others by “Pot Roasted Rabbit” by Giulia Scarpaleggia of Jul’s Kitchen in My Grandma’s Recipes
- 1 Rabbit cut into stewing pieces – about 2.5 pounds serves approx. 4 persons
*This equals 7 pieces, if you don’t have a whole rabbit, you can also use 6 fore and hind legs. We do not like innards but if you do you can add the liver to the stew during cooking
- 2 TBSPs very fresh and light olive oil (preferably young)
- 50 grams of cubed bacon or raw dry cured ham
- 2 carrots
- 1 leek
- 1 fennel bulb
- 1 pickled red pepper (skinned and in jarred in oil or water rather then pickled)
- 3 small onion or 2 medium-sized ones – peeled and chopped
- 1 clove of garlic – peeled and chopped
- 200 grams of your favorite green olives (stone in)
*preferably marinated ones that have been “slashed”, you can also slash them yourself by making 2 cuts into the olives so they absorb the liquid when cooking
- 1 sprig of fresh rosemary, 1 twig of fresh thyme and oregano, washed and finely chopped – if you don’t have fresh herbs use 1 tsp of “herbes de Provence”
- 1 sprig of cilantro washed and chopped – optional because not everyone likes cilantro
- 1 pinch or more of chili flakes
- 1 tsp of garam masala
- ¼ tsp of pimenton (smoked paprika)
- ½ washed and chopped organic lemon
- 1 cup of light white wine
- 400 ml low-fat chicken or vegetable broth
- 2 TBSPs of flour
- 2 TBSPs tomato paste
- sea salt
- ground black pepper
- 3 laurel leaves
For preparing/marinating the rabbit:
Enough cold water to cover the rabbit pieces, ½ washed organic lemon (juiced), 3 laurel leaves
Putting it all together:
1 hour before cooking the stew – 2 hours before serving:
Fill a large pot or bowl with very cold water. Pour in the lemon juice and the lemon itself, add the laurel leaves and the rabbit pieces. Cover and refrigerate for 1 hour.
About 20 minutes before the rabbit has finished soaking:
Heat a large casserole with 1 TBSP of the olive oil. Add the onions, garlic, and bacon. Stir-fry about 3 minutes taking care with the heat that the bacon doesn’t burn but only browns. Add the carrots, fennel leek and fresh chopped herbs. Stir-fry a further 5 minutes until the vegetables are shinny.
Add the white wine and bring to a boil, simmer for 5 minutes to boil off the alcohol. Add the broth and the olives, bring back to a boil and simmer for 3 minutes. Remove the pot from the heat and carefully pour the vegetables and sauce into another bowl or pot. Set aside.
Wipe out the casserole with a paper towel, return it to medium heat and add a further TBSP of olive oil.
Remove the rabbit from the refrigerator and place the pot/bowl next to the stove. When the oil is hot, remove the rabbit piece by piece from the water, shake off the excess water and place the meat in the hot oil. Fit the pieces so that they fit in one layer. Let them brown until they no longer stick to the bottom (about 4-5 minutes). The pot will spit and make noises as the water from the rabbit is cooked off – don’t worry but watch the pot and adjust the heat if needed. When the pieces no longer stick to the bottom, sprinkle them with sea salt and pepper and turn the pieces over to brown them on the other side in the same way. Again sprinkles with salt and pepper.
When the pieces no longer stick to the bottom of the pan, lower the heat, sprinkle the pieces with the flour and stir with a wooden spoon to evenly distribute the flour – about 3 minutes. Add the pimenton, garam masala and the tomato paste. Stir-fry another 2 minutes and remove from the heat.
Pour the reserved vegetables and broth over the pieces. Stir and return to the heat. Bring back to a boil stirring all along to incorporate the flour into the sauce, scraping the bottom so nothing sticks. Lower the heat to simmering, then cover and simmer for 1 hour, stirring occasionally to turn the rabbit pieces over so that they cook evenly.
After 1 hour turn off the heat and let sit with the top on. If need be reheat before serving.
Serve with mashed or cubed broth potatoes, or noodles, kasha or anything that will absorb the delicious sauce.
P.S. We had leftover stew so I removed the meat from the bones and added it to the rest of the sauce and vegetables to warm up the next day.
Come on Spring bring it on now, my tummy is full and I’m ready for the challenge!!