Growing up, every year for my birthday and Christmas, I asked for a dog. My favorite movie was “The Shaggy Dog,” and I wanted nothing more than to own a big shaggy sheepdog. One Christmas morning, I woke to find two baby bunnies under the tree. Mom said that, because we traveled a lot, our lifestyle wasn’t conducive to having a dog, so Santa gave us bunnies instead. One for me, one for the bro. I named mine Eddie, and he lived a long 8 years until he finally died of cancer and old age. Eddie was an interesting pet. I think he was a bit schizo in that he lived like a cat, barked like a dog, and behaved like he was our sibling, and was at times treated as such by my parents.
Why am I talking about Eddie? Because today I made Hasenpfeffer, or, in layman’s terms, Dutch Hare Stew. Why would I pick such a dish given my beloved childhood pet? Honestly, I like the name and I can hear Laverne and Shirley sing it out loud: “Schlemiel! Schlimazel! Hasenpfeffer Incorporated!” I also like using ingredients I’d have used before. I was curious, and today, curiosity killed the cat. Or, in my case, rabbit.
Shockingly, unlike my duck from last week, rabbit was relatively easy to find. When I saw it all wrapped up, I was pretty pleased that I wasn’t going to have to confront a situation like I did with the lobster. The packaging looked like a pork loin, all prepped and ready to cook. However, upon further inspection and unwrapping of said packaging, I was shocked and appalled to find out it was prepared exactly like a chicken, which meant I was going to have to do the deboning myself. With Michael Bublé calming me in the background, I set to work and after a few squeamish minutes, the job was done.
The rest played out like a pretty typical beef stew, with one very important exception. The sauce contained crushed gingersnaps. While the original recipe called for gingerbread, I wasn’t up to making that from scratch, so I improvised and that, with a few other tweaks made this my own. Before you shake your head at the notion of putting cookies into savory stew, think of it as a bouquet-garni or sorts, just with different spices and packaging.
The stew came out delicious. Thick and hearty, perfect for Sunday supper. If you don’t feel like eating Thumper, I’d say beef or even chicken thighs would do.
I have a thought about what I’ll be dreaming about tonight…
- 4 rabbit hind legs
- 1 large carrot, chopped
- 2 large parsnips, chopped
- 4-5 small Yukon gold potatoes
- salt and pepper
- olive oil
- 1 large red onion, roughly chopped
- 2 TB tomato paste
- 2 bay leaves
- 1 cup red wine
- 2 cups beef or chicken stock
- 1 1/2 cups crushed gingersnap cookies
- bunch fresh parsley, chopped
- Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.
- Season the legs with salt and pepper and brown in a large frying pan. Once cooked, remove from the pan and place in a large oven proof dish. To this dish, add the carrots, bay, parsnip, potatoes and top with the crushed gingersnaps.
- Back to the frying pan, add the onions and cook until soft, about 5 minutes. Add the tomato paste, wine and stock, and bring to a boil.
- Pour the wine mixture over the rabbit mixture. Cover with foil and place in the oven for about 1 hour, 15 minutes to an hour and a half.
- Take the legs out of the sauce, let cool and pluck the meat from the bones. Serve with parsley.
- If you don't want to or can't find rabbit, chicken thighs work splendidly.