Wednesday, 23 January 2013
One of my favourite winter recipes is for Bavarian Rabbit. It is tasty, warm and filling. Can be dressed up for a dinner party, or eaten family style from big bowls with warm bread and fresh butter.
Our lovely neighbours asked me a few days ago if we ate pigeon. "Mais oui" was the response. OK, but you will have to pluck and gut them yourself..... pause.... I think he was waiting for me to cringe and make wretching noises or something. "Pas de souci!" was my response ("no worries" - in Aussie vernacular).
So this morning after Sophie and I arrived back from our little walk, I was presented with two gloriously plump pigeons.
I am a big fan of the markings on feathers. The colours and patterns are beautiful. The first few minutes were spent stroking the feathers and admiring them. Like brushing your hand across raw silk. Glossy and irridescent and soft.
Since it wasn't raining or snowing, I thought I would plumer the pigeons outside. That way, any fine downy feather could float away on the breeze into the orchard, rather than lingering for weeks in the house. I rather enjoy plucking birds. It is a relaxing job if done properly, and it gives you a real appreciation of the anatomy of the bird. So I sat and happily daydreamed of all the things I could cook and tried to decide which recipe to use. Did not count on the interest of a small grey cat though did I....
Sophie sat beside me salivating the whole time.
I really thought she must be desperate for some pigeon meat. After plucking them I dressed them, saving the legs and gésiers for her. I put the necks aside for my boys to enjoy.
Do you think any of them would even look at the pigeon when I was done.... no way! Sophie took one sniff and walked away. Guy had a tiny (and I do mean tiny) lick, then decided that if he smooged me hard enough I would take it away. Eric looked at it from about a metre away and then lifted each paw in turn and shook it... as if to say "I'm not touching that - YUCK!" Spoilt little beggers!
It has only taken a week for Sophie to become as spoilt as the boys. sigh
Whilst the furbabies have expressed their disgust in pigeon, Wayne and I will be enjoying it tomorrow for dinner. It is always best after sitting a day.
Normally I make this with rabbit, but substituted the pigeon to see how it would go. From the smells emanating from the kitchen, I think we have a success! Below is my quick version of the recipe. If you want to see a proper version, head over to http://honest-food.net/2012/09/10/german-rabbit-stew/ at Hunter Angler Gardener Cook. I prefer the veg in the dish, and also prefer to cook the meat in the stock, rather than browning first. I find this gives the stock a better flavour and makes no difference to the finished dish.
Bavarian Rabbit (or pigeon)
1 large rabbit jointed (or a few pigeons cut in half)
1 large onion diced
clove of garlic
good few sprigs of fresh thyme
large splash of vermouth or dry white wine
veg stock to cover meat
zest of 1 lemon
1/2 cup light sour cream or creme fraiche
Place rabbit or pigeon pieces in bottom of oven proof dish (I use a vintage le creuset). Add good splash of vermouth. Cover with stock by 1 or 2cm. Add onion, thyme and clove of garlic. Do not cover.
Place in oven at 180celcius till meat cooked.
Remove meat and let cool till able to handle. Then remove bones from meat and add meat back to pot.
Add lemon zest, potatoes and carrots.
Cook on low heat (around 100-150celcius) for another few hours. Keep checking liquid level - you may need to top up with water or stock.
When cooked it is delicious, however it is even better the next day.
To serve, add the creme fraiche and mix well. It should be a thick, extremely moist casserole. Not a soup, but with a good gravy to the mixture.
Fill bowls with the casserole and serve thick slices of fresh bread slathered in fresh butter alongside.