Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Rabbit Meat with Trappist Beer and Mushrooms

This dish is much more difficult than I thought. I had happily bought 2 kg of frozen "konijntjes" from the supermarket on Monday, intending to make a rabbit dish on yesterday. But I didn't read the "fine print" which says the rabbit has to be marinated for at least 8 hours, thus the dish has to be postponed to today.

Then as I re-read the recipe again today, it became evident that I really need a translator to help me translate from Dutch to English, otherwise I may end up with a burnt rabbit on my dinner plate. So I consulted my Dutch expert to translate all the steps before I write them out in English. Mind you, there are so many steps involved that it is really abit confusing (Put this in, take this out and put this in again...) But I hope this doesn't scare off anyone from making this dish. 

This is the first time I am cooking rabbit meat, the end result is so delicious, that I forgive myself for killing a rabbit today :) 

Rabbit Stew with Trappist Beer and Mushrooms (Konijntje met Trappistenbier en Oesterzwammen)

(Recipe adapted from "In Belgie Eet Iedereen Lekker" by Ruth Van Waerebeek)

Ingredients (for 3 persons)
Marinade :
1 carrot, peeled and cut into small pieces
1 big onion, sliced thinly
1 stalk of white celery (bleekselderij), cut into 2.5cm 
1 tsp dried thyme
1 laurier leave (laurierblad)
1 tsp black peppercorns (zwarte peperkorrels)
6 blueberries, squashed (or u can use jeneverbessen)
1 bottle of trappist abbey beer (eg. Westmalle Dubbel)
80ml apple vinegar (ciderazijn)

Stoofpot :
1 kg of rabbit (4 pieces)
a pinch of salt
a pinch of pepper
6 tbsp flour
5 tbsp unsalted butter
1 tbsp cooking oil
250g oyster mushrooms (oesterzwammen)
5 medium onions, sliced thinly
180ml chicken buillon
2 tsp sugar
1 tbsp red berry jam (rode-bessengelei)
2 tbsp fresh parsley, finely chopped

1. Mix all the ingredients for the marinade in a big glass bowl or ovendish. Place the pieces of rabbit meat inside, cover with plastic wrap and let it marinade for min 8 hours, preferably in the fridge til the next day.

2. Take the pieces of rabbit meat out and dry them using paper towel. Rub them with salt and pepper and coat them with flour. Shake off the excess flour. Set the marinade aside for use later.

3. Heat up 2 tbsp butter and 1 tbsp oil in a big pan over a medium fire. Bake the rabbit meat until brown on both sides. (Do not bake more than 2 pieces at the same time, make sure that the butter/oil is not too hot and the rabbit is not burnt.)

4. Put back all 4 pieces of rabbit meat into the pan. Add in the marinade (together with vege and spices). Bring it to a boil, cover the pan with a lid loosely and let it simmer over a low fire. (Make sure that you don't cover it completely, leave a little gap so that the moisture can evaporate and the sauce will become thicker. Let the rabbit meat simmer for 45-60 min until the meat falls easily from the bones)

5. While the rabbit is being cooked, add 2 tbsp of butter in a big pan and bake the oyster mushrooms for 8-10 min until nicely browned. Season with salt and pepper. Remove the mushrooms and set aside for use later.

6. Melt 1 tbsp of butter with the bouillon, sugar, salt and pepper in the pan. Add in the sliced onions, and cook the onions over a medium fire for about 30 min until most of the moisture has evaporated and the onions become very soft. Remove the onions and set aside for use later.

7. Once the rabbit meat is tender and falls apart easily from the bones (about 45-60 min), remove the meat from the marinade and set aside. Remove the laurier leaves from the marinade, and puree the marinade in a food processor. The pureed vegetables make the sauce thicker and give it an extra aroma. Put the sauce back into the pan and season with salt and pepper. Bring it to a boil, then mix in the red-berry jam (rode-bessengelei). If you find the sauce too thin, increase the heat and let it cook until it thickens.

8. Place the rabbit meat (step 7), onions (step 6) and mushrooms (step 5) back into the sauce. Warm everything up and mix well with the sauce. Sprinkle some parsley before serving.

Note: Rabbit meat tastes like chicken meat but is much tougher and has a stronger smell. The purpose of marinating it in beer and vinegar, is to tenderize the meat and remove the smell. By stewing it for 1 hour or so, the rabbit meat will become so tender that the meat falls off the bones. Adding red-berry jam is a fantastic idea, who would have thought of it? It gives the sauce a sweet fruity flavour, in addition to the rich taste of beer, vinegar and spices.

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