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In 1722 Edward Kidder published his cookery book, called “The Receipts of Pastry and Cookery”. At this time he was already teaching the techniques of cookery in his school in London and to wealthy ladies in their own homes.
His receipt for A brown Fricassee of Chicken or Rabbit, was going to be my number two Rabbit receipt. As you know I was not happy with the first one. After reading this receipt, I decided to alter it to my taste. Instead of white wine I would use sherry, and, because we have enough rabbit tenders to eat, I would eliminate the ‘Shiver’d Pallats’ (sliced cooked beef) and savory balls. Yes, this will change the taste somewhat, however I’m not feeding an army just the two of us. And I do want to have the flavor of the rabbit to really be the highlight of the dish.
One of the treats growing up was to bake potatoes in the fireplace. They were wrapped in foil and everyone took turns rolling them around so the sides baked evenly. We did this every week. And ate them by the fire while we watched Lawrence Welk, Ed Sullivan Show or Ted Mack’s Original Amateur Hour. Once we even watched my sister Phyllis sing and duke it out with another contestant. My sister came in second.
I haven’t done potatoes like this in a long time so with a brisk fire going and coals ready, Allan made a nice pile of them in the corner and I put the foil wrapped-potatoes on the coals. Okay, back to Kidder.
Earlier in the week I took out all the packages of chicken gizzards, and backs I had cut from Cornish hens and tossed in the freezer. They come in handy when you need a quick gravy. I put them in a pot with some chicken broth, onion, parsley, garlic and salt and pepper then simmered them (with the exception of the liver). This cooked for about 45 minutes then I strained it I then made a roux and added it to the broth and I had a nice gravy ready for the Rabbit Fricassee .
In the afternoon, I took out from the freezer, the French rolls that I had made the week before. I put four on them in a dish covered with a cloth and let them defrost. When they were beginning to warm I dampened the cloth and put them in a warm place to rise. I must say I was surprised how much they rose, and I was really happy with the results. When the potatoes began to get soft, I brushed the tops with butter and started them in a bake kettle.
I floured the rabbit tenders, and sautéed them in browned butter in the skillet. When they had a nice color, I removed them to a plate to keep warm. I poured a little broth into the pan to deglaze it than added more butter, the leeks, mushroom, thyme, garlic and parsley. I let this all cook over the heat until the mushrooms and leeks were soft. While the pan was hot I added the sherry and burned off the alcohol, the taste would remain in the sauce. The gravy and some chicken broth went in next and then another lump of floured butter to thicken it up. After I mixed this about, I squeezed a little lemon juice on it.Allan poked the potatoes and they were ready. The beans were al dente, the way we like them, and the rolls a wonderful golden hue. The rabbit was cooked to perfection.
Well, I did not hold true to Kidder’s receipt. However, I think the beef and savory balls would have perhaps added a overwhelming flavor to the delicate rabbit. I likes this dish and will make it again.
Coming up: Savory and Sweet Workshop blog. Stay tune.
“You cook good rabbit, pilgrim.” from the film Jeremiah Johnson (1972)
Pastry and Cookery 1722