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I grew up eating wild game meat. My dad owned a fishing and hunting store. He, my brother Jim and sister Joan hunted all the time. It was a great way to stretch the food budget of a household of nine. One of my favorite was rabbit. My mom cooked it two ways, in a stew or deep fried. I loved them both. So, while looking through Williams Verral’s cookery book, I came across “Collops of Rabbit in Champagne wine” and it looked interesting. Being that we don’t hunt, Allan and I took a ride up RT 4 to Loudon and the Hungry Buffalo. They sell all kinds of wild game. We purchased enough rabbit tenders for two meals.
A few days before I wanted to make this I printed Verral’s receipt and read it over twice. I recommend that everyone read early receipt at least twice. This way you will understand what you need to do to change it into a modern equivalent and save yourself from a cooking catastrophe. Also, I need to decide what else would go with it. I felt that cranberries would complement the rabbit and, being that there would be a bit of a sauce, I decided to have French rolls to accompany it. Then I picked a dessert that Allan has been asking for, baked custard. Along with the custard I thought it would be nice to place a tiny Madeleine on top.
I made the cranberry sauce and the Madeleine the day before our meal and sealed them in a tight container. The next afternoon I made the Cream Custard from Lady H in Richard Bradley ‘s 1732 cookery book, and put it in the refrigerator until later.
The next day arrived and I made the custard in the early afternoon in a nice water bath. Then I started the French rolls from Hannah Glasse receipt. We are only two people here so I froze most of the rolls. This is an experiment I’ve been wanting to try to see how will they come out the next time I want to use them. I also froze some of the cranberry sauce for later use. That evening I assembled all the ingredients for the collops. I chopped the green onions and shallots put the herbs and seasoning into a small bowl and poured out the right amount of broth. I salted and floured the collops and I was ready to cook.
The fire had been going for a while and the coals were ready. I sautéed the rabbit tenders to a golden brown and then took them out and put the plate aside to keep warm. In the same pan used for the rabbit went some butter, the mushrooms, green onions and herbs, salt and pepper. When they were softened and the mushrooms had turned a nice chestnut color, I added a knob of butter mixed with flour and stirred it in to make a roux, then cooked it. If you don’t cook a roux long enough the flour taste remains. I stirred in the white wine and lemon juice and some chicken stock and let this simmer a while. The rabbit was then added in, tossed around to coat and cooked for a few more minutes. I moved the pan from the coals and covered it.
My French rolls would be baked in the new reflector oven that I recently bought, this was the first chance I had to use it. When the rabbit was out of the way, I moved it closer to the fire so they would obtain a crispy golden top.
Now the review on this meal is complicated. I loved the cranberry sauce and the rolls were flaky and moist. The custard delicious and the Madeleine on top was a perfect compliment. The rabbit sauce I did not like. They say if you’re going to use wine in a recipe use one you love. Well, I am not a fan of white wine and should have thought about this. I found the sauce to be overly sweet from the wine and the lemon didn’t help the matter. I did like the rabbit. After scraping off the sauce I found it very tender and tasting somewhere in-between white and dark chicken meat.
Now Allan, he loved it. The next day he had it for lunch and said it tasted even better after sitting overnight. Don’t be reluctant about trying this rabbit receipt, if you like white wine. You may love it like Allan did.
Our next rabbit receipt will be from Edward Kidder. I’ve read this receipt and with a change or two I’m sure I will like it. I’ll post it soon.
“My dinner is still in the woods.” -Unknown
William Verral, 1775
“The Complete System of Cookery”