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Hasenpfeffer

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TasunkaWitko View Drop Down
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Joined: 25 January 2010
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    Posted: 06 February 2012 at 13:33

Hasenpfeffer
Braised Rabbit in Spiced Wine Sauce

I've never made this, mostly because I don't really have rabbits available to me (or, when I DO see them, I don't have a .22 handy), but it is one that I would definitely want to try someday. Being of mostly-German descent, this one calls to me and, considering the ingredients, I have a feeling that it would be really good. Someone has suggested that turkey thighs are a good substitute for rabbit, so I might give it a go sometime with those, if I can't come across a bunny or two.

As you can guess, this is a very old recipe, and has been a part of German culinary culture for hundreds of years. From Time/Life's Foods of the World - The Cooking of Germany, 1969:
 
 
A cook in a puffed-sleeve doublet, shown in a 16th Century woodcut, skins a hare in preparation for the traditional Hasenpfeffer (Hasz im Pfeffer in old German), or "hare in pepper). On the stove, a bubbling pot awaits the making of the stew, a dish almost as old as German cooking itself and still popular.
 

 
Racing hares in a hunting print form a background for the spicy rabbit stew known as Hasenpfeffer, served here with potatoes and red cabbage.

To serve 6:

  • 1/2 pound lean bacon, finely chopped
  • A 5- to 6-pound fresh rabbit or defrosted frozen mature rabbit, cut into serving pieces, or substitute two 2.5- to 3-pound fresh or defrosted frozen rabbits, cut into serving pieces
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly-ground black pepper
  • 1/2 cup flour
  • 1/2 cup finely-chopped shallots, or substitute 1/2 cup finely-chopped onions
  • 1/2 teaspoon finely-chopped garlic
  • 1 cup dry red wine
  • 1 cup chicken stock, fresh or canned
  • 2 tablespoons brandy
  • 1 teaspoon currant jelly
  • 1 small bay leaf
  • 1/8 teaspoon dried rosemary
  • 1/8 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
In a heavy 5-quart flameproof casserole, cook the bacon over moderate heat, stirring and turning it frequently, until it is crisp. Spread the bacon out on a double thickness of paper towels to drain and set the casserole with the bacon fat aside.

Wash the rabbit quickly under cold running water and pat it thoroughly dry with paper towels. Sprinkle the pieces with salt and pepper, then dip them in flour and shake off any excess. Heat the bacon fat in the casserole over high heat until it splutters. Add the rabbit, a few pieces at a time, and brown them on all sides, regulating the heat so that they colour quickly and evenly without burning. As they are done, transfer the rabbit pieces to a plate. Pour off all but 2 tablespoons of fat from the casserole and in it cook the shallots and garlic, stirring frequently, for 4 or 5 minutes, or until the shallots are soft and transparent but not brown. Pour in the wine and stock, and bring to a boil over high heat, meanwhile scraping in any brown bits clinging to the bottom and sides of the pan. Stir in the brandy, jelly, bay leaf, rosemary and thyme, and return the rabbit and any juices collected around it to the casserole. Add the drained bacon, cover the casserole tightly, and simmer over low heat for 1.5 hours, or until the rabbit is tender but not falling apart. (If you are substituting small rabbits, they may cook much faster. Test them for doneness after about 1 hour of cooking.) Pick out the bay leaf, stir in the lemon juice and taste for seasoning. The sauce should be quite peppery; add more pepper, if necessary, to taste.

Serve the rabbit directly from the casserole, or arrange the pieces attractively on a deep heated platter and pour the sauce over them.

Note: Traditionally, the sauce in which the rabbit is simmered is thickened, just before serving, with the rabbit’s blood. If you hunt and dress your own rabbit, save its blood. Stir in 1 or 2 tablespoons of vinegar to prevent it from clotting and refrigerate until ready to use. Stir the blood into the sauce after the rabbit is cooked, then simmer gently, stirring all the while, for 4 or 5 minutes, or until the sauce thickens slightly. Be careful not to let the sauce boil. Add the lemon juice, taste for seasoning and serve.

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