Being a jazz musician is no bed of lollipops. We make no money, we get no respect, and the general public has a special brand of disdain reserved just for us, which frankly is fair enough, considering our hunted look and indifferent attitude to personal grooming and hygiene. And then there’s all the berets and finger-snapping– people really hate that. But one of the major perks to the underground life is not having to deal with the tedious mundanities of the normal world: rush hour, credit scores, family picnics, insurance, savings accounts, trips to Disney World, any hope of upward social mobility or financial security… And then one night you find yourself on all fours assembling a couch.
Like, with screws and an allen key and whatnot! This is not what I signed up for! This is one step away from taking your kids to a ballgame on the weekend! I’d have to have kids, and remember when the weekend was! Three hours of scrambling around on hands and knees, losing bolts, chasing after rolling widgets, swearing at slats; I nearly packed it all in when I found myself pinned under a mattress while scrambling for an absconding sprocket. The only things that kept me going were the Dexter Gordon on the stereo, and the rabbit coming up to temperature on the counter.
I really don’t understand why rabbit is not a more popular meat around here. It’s easy to cook with, the flavour is mild and pleasant, and they breed like rabbits. Seriously you could release a few into the wild, and by next week we’d all be catching them in the backyard. Instead, they’re hard to find, and four times the price of boring old chicken. But occasionally my local supermarket produces a couple of D’Artagnan beauties, and I snap them right up.
This was to be my second bite of the bunny. My main concern is that rabbit tends to dry out pretty easily- all that hopping and humping doesn’t leave much fat on you (there’s probably a lesson there)- so there needs to be plenty of moisture involved. Last time, following a Jamie Oliver tip, I chopped the little guy up and deep fried him, which was delicious; Bourdain’s got a lovely looking recipe for rabbit with olives in his Les Halles cookbook, but the missus has an irrational but violent aversion to olives, so this time I decided to go the braising route, via this recipe from Food and Wine: http://www.foodandwine.com/recipes/casserole-roasted-rabbit-herbs.
It’s a good, easy-to-follow, no-nonsense recipe, and I know my kitchen is appallingly under-equipped, but who the hell has a casserole pot big enough to hold two whole rabbits? I was only cooking one, and the only thing that would hold it was this big wide pan, which ended up working fine. I’m not sure how you’re expected to brown its “inner legs”, but I did it by manoeuvering the poor guy into a face-down, legs-akimbo position that made me wince slightly. And I don’t know why we tie the hind legs together, but as I mentioned in the last post, trussing things makes me feel dead professional, so I’m down for tying up almost anything.
Keeping your bunny juicy calls for low, slow cooking. So aside from regular basting (which you should definitely do), you’ve got plenty of time to throw on a record and start drinking. Rabbit was the nickname of the great alto saxophonist Johnny Hodges, so he seemed an obvious choice. I briefly considered carrot juice before slapping myself and cracking open a bottle of Portuguese red. This is also a perfect opportunity to make use of your rabbit’s liver, if it came included…
After the approximately 2 hours cooking time, our rabbit was falling off its bones. Herby and garlicky and tender, it was bloody delicious; and served alongside some mashed root veggies and buttered steamed chard, was a hit. We would have eaten it on the couch but that thing really doesn’t look stable enough to support any weight.
How bout you? How do you boil your bunny? Roast your rabbit? Erm… confit your cony? Let me know in the comments. More soon!
Here’s a leporine playlist to keep you company: