Laura and I are relatively adventurous eaters. Not at the level that Andrew Zimmerman, that freak, occupies but we are pretty open to new foods. We’ve found that, interestingly enough, in our very rural area, that most of our neighbors (I use the term “neighbor” to describe anyone who lives within five miles of us) are not adventurous eaters. I’ve been saving oyster shells for our future chickens by placing them beside Laura’s Lilly garden. Laura’s Lilies! One of our closer neighbors drove up the other day to deliver a package left at the general store and caught site of the oyster shells. He asked what they were, where we got them and how did I cook them. When I explained we ate them raw he shuddered and beat a hasty retreat.
I’ll likewise never forget being at a celebration at the Palisades Restaurant and observing people scarf Foie Gras. A friend of mine had both hands and his mouth full and asked me what it was. He nearly barfed. More for me!
I get similar reactions to one of our favorite foods, rabbit. We rediscovered it a few years ago and have a great local source for it out of Riner, Virginia. Laura has affectionately dubbed it “Nunny.” It’s sweet, lean, humanely and carefully raised and falling-off-the-bone tender. It doesn’t taste anything like chicken, although we neglected to mention it was rabbit to our guests children last week (at the request of the parents) and the children were eating seconds and marveling at how good the “chicken” was.
It has started making me wonder, why don’t we eat rabbit? Nearly every other culture, from Asian to Italian, treats rabbit as just another staple. They are easy to raise, pound for pound they are one of the cheapest animals to grow to harvest. They are docile, easily harvested, easily dressed and their waste is excellent fertilizer.
During some brief research I discovered that rabbit production in the U.S. declined sharply right after WWII. I’m guessing that the push to mass production of grain animals to utilize artificial fertilizers developed by arms corporations funded by the government played a large part in this decline. I also suspect that anthropomorphism after Bambi was released was part of the reason. I mean, really, who wants to eat Thumper? Well, I do.
For whatever the reason, the general public is missing out. Here is our favorite recipe, adopted from La Cucina Italiana magazine:
Ravioloni Con Coniglio:
The original recipe calls for ravioloni, but Laura prefers homemade linguini style pasta instead. Any pasta that you like will work.
Cut a 3 pound rabbit into 4 pieces, place in a shallow bowl and cover with white wine. Allow to marinate at room temperature for about an hour.
In the meantime, chop one onion, a couple of carrots and two celery ribs into a medium chop.
In a large pot, combine carrots, onion, celery and about two tablespoons of good olive oil. Cook over medium high heat until the onions are translucent.
Drain the rabbit and add to the pot. Add four cups of good chicken or veggie stock.
Bring to a boil, and then reduce heat to low and simmer partially covered for one hour.
Uncover and simmer until the liquid is reduced by about half and the rabbit is falling off the bone, about another hour.
Use a slotted spoon to transfer the rabbit to a cutting board. Shred the meat and discard the bones.
Bring the liquid in the pot to a boil and cook for about ten minutes.
Add the rabbit, season to taste and smother your favorite pasta with it. Enjoy!