Sunday, December 11, 2011

Hunter's Stew

I'm a guy who loves game meat.  My former father-in-law and myself used to raise chickens and rabbits for meat.  We had coveys of quail that nested and fed in his backyard.  Wild turkey roosted in the trees down by the river where the deer also bedded down during the heat of the day.  Wild pig rooted on the hillsides up the ridge.  Needless to say that I've had my fair share of game meat.  Pig roasts were common for weddings or graduations and when folks took a deer or a bear, there was often a cookout that followed.

A few months back, I'd picked up a couple of whole, trimmed rabbits from a local butcher who carries them and I finally decided to pull one out and do something with it.  It's been getting colder here of late and a nice hearty stew seemed like the perfect thing to do with a rabbit.  I figured the slow cooker would be a perfect way to break down the meat off the bones and impart a good savory flavor to the meat as Jen isn't too fond of the "gamey" taste of many wild meats.  Personally, I like it.  It also helped me clean up a few leftover veggies I had sitting around and I made up some barley to serve it over.  A great old-timey comfort dish.  Jen said it reminded her of some sort of hunter's stew so that's what I decided to call it.

Note:  If you have an aversion to eating Bambi, Thumper, or any other cute, cuddly woodland creatures, poultry may be substituted for rabbit but your cooking times will be much shorter.  Probably no more than 6 hours or so.

A little Jawbreaker "West Bay Invitational" seemed apropos as I would gladly have invited everyone to the West Bay, or Humboldt since I then wouldn't have to drive, to a kick-ass party where I would serve much cerveza and plenty of rabbit stew.  With kick-ass live music of course. - justin

Hunter's Stew

Time: 8-9 hours
Servings: 6-8
Difficulty: Easy
  • 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 cup shallots, chopped
  • 1/2 cup carrots, chopped
  • 1/2 cup celery, chopped
  • 1 cup mushrooms, chopped
  • 1 tbsp garlic, minced
  • 2 tbsp kosher salt
  • 1 tbsp seasoned salt
  • 1 tbsp ground black pepper
  • 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 1/8 tsp Chinese Five Spice
  • 1 tsp Herbs De Provence
  • 1/4 cup fresh basil, chopped
  • 2 cups chicken stock
  • 2 cups water
  • 1 cup very dry sherry
  • 1 whole 3lb rabbit, trimmed (paws, head, fur, skin, tail, and innards all removed)
  • 1/2 cup wild rice
  • 1/2 cup red wine
  • 1 cup fresh scallions, chopped
  • 1/3 cup of raisins
Thickening the Broth
  • Liquid from the slow cooker
  • 1 cup chicken stock 
  • 3 tbsp butter
  • 3 tbsp flour
Get your oil, shallots, carrots, celery, mushrooms, garlic, kosher and seasoned salts, black and cayenne peppers,  Chinese Five Spice, Herbs de Provence, basil, 2 cups chicken stock, water, and dry sherry in the slow cooker and set it to low for 8 hours.  Every 2 hours, turn the rabbit if the liquid doesn't cover the entire animal (we have a 7 qt slow cooker so my liquid left half my rabbit exposed).  After 6 hours stir in the rice, red wine, scallions and raisins.  After 7 hours, remove the rabbit and pull the meat from the bones.  Most of the meat is located in the hind legs but don't forget the back straps, the shoulders, and the breasts hold a good bit of meat as well.  I find the easiest way is to pull as much meat off with a fork as possible and use your hands for the rest, once the meat has cooled a little, that is.

Add the pulled meat back to the slow cooker for the last hour.  When the 8 hours is up, place the butter in a skillet over medium high heat and melt.  Add the flour and cook for 2 minutes or until the roux is a light brown color.  Strain the liquid from the slow cooker into the skillet, add the last cup of chicken stock and whisk quickly until thickened.  Add the thickened sauce/gravy back to the veggies and meat in the slow cooker and serve over rice or barley.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Smokey Squash Soup

So we have all of these autumnal veggies sitting around the house and in an effort to use them before they start to go bad, I decided to make some squash soup.  I'd already been on a mission one day to make soup stock out of a chicken carcass and ended up going the extra mile to make a pork stock as well.  It seemed like the perfect base for a squash soup.  I went the smokey pork rout for the stock and tossed in a smoked pork femur, some trimmings off of a ham steak, and a healthy dose of bacon.  The result was awesome.  Some crumbled bacon and fresh chopped scallions made this an amazing comfort dish, perfect for a cold day or for the morning after a long night of debauchery when your body needs nutrients other than hard drugs and alcohol.  Hearty and filling, healthy veggies, smooth and silky texture.  Warms you from the inside!

Since it's a healthy and hearty soup it would naturally pair with some Supersuckers which is more like country/punk with a side order of "kick me in the teeth".  A little "Born With a Tail" makes this good soup seem a little more edgy so here ya go.  You can feel a little more rock-n-roll-devil-child while you eat your healthy squash soup. - justin

Smokey Squash Soup

Time: 1 hr
Serves: 6
Difficulty: Easy
  • 2 cups butternut squash
  • 2 cups sweet baking pumpkin
  • 1 lb bacon, chopped
  • 2 cups onion, chopped
  • 2 tbsp salt
  • 1 tbsp ground black pepper
  • 2 tsp ground white pepper
  • 1 tbsp paprika
  • 2 tsp chili powder
  • 1/2 tsp ground ginger
  • 2 tbsp minced garlic (about 3 medium cloves)
  • 1/4 cup dry vermouth or dry sherry
  • 6 cups pork or chicken stock
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 2 tbsp butter
  • 2 cups scallions, chopped
  • 1/2 cup Pecorino Romano, grated 
I was working with a whole squash and a whole pumpkin so I simply cut them in half, seeded them, and roasted half of each, cut side down, on an cookie sheet covered in oiled aluminum foil in a 425 degree oven for 45 minutes.  They came out perfectly.  If you are working with diced veggies, use the 4 cups and toss them in a little olive oil and roast in a 425 degree oven and check them after 25 minutes.  Pull when they are fork tender.

Brown the bacon in a large stock pot over medium heat until the fat has rendered and the bacon is crisp.  Remove bacon and dump all but 3 tbsp of the bacon fat.  Add the chopped onion and sweat until translucent and starting to brown.  Add the salt, black and white peppers, paprika, chili powder, ginger and garlic and cook for another 3 minutes, stirring frequently.  Add the vermouth or sherry and cook for 2 minutes or so to deglaze.  Don't forget to scrape the pot with a wooden spoon or silicon whisk get all those yummy bits off the bottom.  Those are called flavor.

Add the stock to the pot along with the squash and pumpkin and add 1/2 of the crisped bacon.  Didn't think I'd forgotten that did you?  Puree with whatever method you have available.  We have a stick blender and that makes it easy but a food processor or blender would work as well.  Just work in batches.  After a smooth consistency has been achieved, turn the heat to high and bring to a boil.  Reduce to a simmer and cook for 25 minutes or so.  When the desired consistency has been achieved (continue simmering if you like a thicker soup) stir in the cream and butter.  Once they have been fully incorporated, serve with rest of the crumbled bacon, chopped scallions, and Pecorino Romano as a topping.

I also thought that a dollop of sour cream would be good on this.  Or maybe some roasted apples or something.

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Baba Ghanoush Hummus

Having just survived through Thanksgiving, I've been in the mood for stuff on the healthier side.  I decided to make some baba ghanoush, but ended up kind of crossing it with hummus.  Came out way tasty!  Makes me think of the show MXC, which is only the best show that's ever been on television, because Vic and Kenny always name one of the contestants Baba Ghanoush.  But Justin also came up in an instant with the best song EVER for this dish!  Nerf Herder's "Nose Ring Girl".  This is an awesome live version!  "...and rice cakes! Rice Cakes! Rice Cakes! Rice Cakes!"  Admit it... Nerf Herder and MXC are a beautiful union.  Just like baba ghanoush and hummus.  -jen

So awesome!
Time:  1 hr roasting/10 minutes prep
Level:  E-Z 

Roasted Veggies
  • 1 large eggplant
  • 1 large zucchini
  • 1/2 of a large onion
  • 1 head of garlic
  • olive oil
  • salt and pepper
Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.  Line a large baking sheet with aluminum foil (this helps clean up!)  Cut eggplant and zucchini in half lengthwise.  Score the flesh of each in a diamond pattern, cutting all the way through the flesh, but not through the skin.  Drizzle olive oil over each, salt and pepper.  Place both vegetables scored-side down on baking sheet.  Chop onion into large chunks, drizzle with olive oil, salt and pepper and place on baking sheet.  Cut the top off of the head of garlic to expose some of the heads.  Drizzle with olive oil, salt and pepper and place on baking sheet.  Roast all of the veggies at 400 degrees F for 1 hour.  Set aside to cooled enough to handle.

  • roasted veggies listed above
  • 1 can (15.5oz) garbanzo beans
  • 1/4 cup tahini
  • juice of 1 large lemon
  • 1 teaspoon white wine vinegar
  • 1/4-1/2 cup chopped cilantro (depending on taste)
  • 1/4 teaspoon minced garlic (or 1 fresh clove)
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon Accent or MSG (optional)
  • 1/8 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1/8 teaspoon (or a few cranks) of black pepper
  • 1/4-1/2 cup olive oil
In a food processor, combine the scooped out flesh of the eggplant (discard the skin), the zucchini, and the onions.  Squeeze out the roasted flesh of the garlic head (discard the paper/skin) and add to processor.  Then add the garbanzo beans, tahini, lemon juice, vinegar, cilantro, minced garlic, cumin, coriander, salt, Accent, red pepper flakes, and black pepper.  Process at high speed, slowly drizzling in the olive oil.  1/4 cup makes a thick dip, but you may want to add as much as 1/2 cup olive oil to your dip to thin it out more.  Blend at high speed until garbanzo beans are completely broken up and dip is smooth and creamy.

Serve as a dip with toasted pita chips, tortilla chips, crackers, or fresh vegetables like carrots, bell peppers and cucumbers.  Or use as a condiment for lettuce and tortilla wraps, burgers, or sandwiches! 

Olive oil drizzled in the center