As I mention on the Button Soup rabbit page, my first taste of rabbit was in Greece. Rabbit plays a fairly important role in traditional Greek cooking. A stew called stifadho, which is practically the national dish of Hellas, was until recently most often made with rabbit and pearl onions. Rabbit meat appears in several other dishes, often paired with fruit, especially dried currants and prunes.
One of our favourite restaurants in Greece was Portes, in Hania, Crete. “Portes” means “doors”, and the stone walk approaching the taverna is lined with brightly painted wooden doors, leaning against an adjacent fence. After our meal, the bill came with a recipe for rabbit stew with prunes printed on a souvenir bookmark. … Continue reading.
…a “break” from tradition…
Rabbits are not traditionally butchered by neatly separating the joints, as you would a chicken. They are broken into forequarters (shoulder-foreleg), hindquarters (hip-hindleg), and a saddle (backbone, with surrounding loins, tenderloins, and belly) by cleaving right through the bones. In a rustic preparation, all these parts, with bones, would be thrown into a stew.
Chefs often bitch about the tedium of cutting rabbit, “especially since there’s practically no meat on them.” Their words. Not mine.
The problem with cleaving is that you’re bound to splinter the bones. I’ve bitten down on a fragment of rabbit bone in restaurants more than once. Taking the time to properly butcher the rabbit by cutting through the joints and not … Continue reading.
The term “barbecue” is used pretty loosely around these parts. Most often it refers to an outdoor grill, but I have also had “barbecued” items in restaurants that haven’t been anywhere near an outdoor grill. In fact, these items, usually ribs or pulled-pork, have been braised or even stewed in an acidic solution called “barbecue sauce”.
True barbecue is meat, usually pork, that has been smoked at low temperatures for several hours. Tough cuts that stand up to lengthy cooking are the most common, especially pork shoulder and ribs, as well as beef brisket. The home of true barbecue is the American south, notably the Carolinas and Tennessee. True barbecue is unlike any other meat. It is transcendent. Complex, aromatic … Continue reading.
My dad grew up in eastern Ontario, in sugar shack country. The most common applications of maple syrup in his home were pouring over pumpkin pie and cornbread, or, if he was especially well-behaved, as a dip for white bread. These dishes win for most direct conveyance of syrup to mouth without drinking from the bottle, but I need something (slightly) more refined.
My Québécois dessert of choice is pouding chômeur. “Chômeur” means unemployed. Here it functions as a substantive, so this is “unemployed person’s pudding.” “Poor man’s pudding” is a more natural sounding translation. Whatever you call it, it’s a fantastic, unadulterated way to enjoy maple syrup.
A simple batter of creamed butter and sugar, eggs, … Continue reading.
Slow-cooked pork that is mixed until creamy and spreadable. It is very similar to the French rillette. Rillettes are traditionally sealed in ramekins with rendered fat. This is great for potted pork, too. Especially in winter, as the fat looks like a skating rink once it sets, and because with the addition of a sprig of rosemary and some peppercorns, you can imitate holly.
- 3 lbs pork shoulder, diced to one inch pieces
- 1/2 lb bacon
- 1/2 lb smoked ham hock
- 1 pork bone
- 1 bundle thyme
- 3 bay leaves
- 1 medium onion, roughly chopped
- 1 stalk celery, roughly chopped
- 4 peppercorns, tied into a cheesecloth bundle
- 1/8 teaspoon ground cloves (I didn’t have whole cloves on
… Continue reading.
This was the first year that I had a hand in preparing the Thanksgiving turkey. Subsequently it was also the first time that I came in contact with the infamous giblets: the neck, heart, liver, and gizzard of the turkey, stored together in a bag in the cavity of the bird.
First things first: I needed to know what I was dealing with. I was familiar with the general shape and function of the first three items on that list. The gizzard, however, I embarrassingly thought was the flap of skin hanging between a turkey’s beak and neck. Turns out this is the wattle, “an organ of sexual dimorphism” (Wikipedia), whatever that means. The gizzard is actually a stomach with … Continue reading.
Today Judy showed up with a bag of Canada Goose wild rice from Fort Assiniboine. Wild “rice” is actually a misnomer: it’s the seed of zizania grasses, which are not part of the rice family, though they are closely related. Anyways, it’s indigenous to lakes across Canada and the northern United States.
The harvesting of wild rice is a pretty interesting affair. Here’s a video of some hippies in Maine taking a canoe into the rice marsh.
Because of the high moisture content of the grain, wild rice actually goes through a good deal more processing than its true-rice cousins. After harvest wild rice is left in large, damp piles to mature for about a week, then dried over a … Continue reading.
Ever since Neil brought me a recipe for limoncello from Capris, I’ve been eager to try some sort of fruit infusion of alcohol. My surplus of raspberries from Roy’s seemed like divine providence. Here is my recipe for raspberry liqueur.
adapted from a souvenir-bar-towel recipe for limoncello
•750 g raspberries
•750 mL Everclear grain alcohol
•750 mL water
•750 g granulated sugar
•500 mL fresh lemon juice, strained of pulp and seeds
- Pour the grain alcohol and raspberries into a large glass container. Mash the berries, cover the mixture tightly, and leave for two weeks. This is the infusion.
- Pour the infusion through a wire strainer to remove the berry pulp. Discard said pulp.
- Make a
… Continue reading.
In the last few days I have learned a lot about oats. For example: whole oats are called groats. Not impressed? Fine. Here are the main “styles” of processed oats:
- Rolled oats: steam-rolled flat. I think the most popular style.
- Steel-cut oats: each groat is cut (by steel, I guess) into a few pieces. Sometimes called Irish oats.
- Quick Oats: the oats are steel cut and then steam-rolled, even flatter than rolled oats, reducing cooking time (hence the name).
Why have I become a scholar of oats? This week Judy brought us a 20 kg bag of rolled oats and a 20 kg bag of quick oats, both from the Can-Oat mill in Manola, and each costing about $25. While … Continue reading.