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.

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