TAIL OF TWO RABBITS

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PART ONE

                                                                   Francisco Goya

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.

Dinner was ready.  With everything on the table, we began to plate.

We sat  leisurely eating while the custard heated up in a warm kettle by the fire. I like my custard warm. After I took them out I toasted the top with a hot iron out of the fire.

With the custard ready I placed a mini Madileine on it. Allan was in heaven.

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.

Sandie

“My dinner is still in the woods.” -Unknown

Receipt

William Verral, 1775

“The Complete System of Cookery”

 

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About Sandie

Since I was a small child I have loved early fireplaces and the smell of smoke in an old house. However it was not until about Fifteen years ago that my journey into hearth cooking began. It all started at the Hurd House Museum in Woodbury Ct. I was the director of the Junior Docent program and among the programs each week we cooked. At about the same time a group of us started the Culinary Historians of Connecticut meeting once a month to discuss equipment used, receipt (18th century term for recipe), and anything between the late 1600 to late 1700 that had to do with hearth cooking. We were fortunate to try our hand at cooking at several Museums throughout Ct and many more private homes. We made cheese; we held a late 1600 dinner and shared our knowledge with others. Our group designrd our own tours such as the Kitchens of Old Wethersfield. In 2000 we were delighted to host the Historic Foodways group of ALFAM at the Hurd House during their conference at Mystic Seaport. We put together a great workshop of Puddings, Sausages, Brown Bread, Beverages you name it we offered it. I am now a member of the ALFAM foodways group. Then it was off to Colonial Williamsburg for the seminar The Art of 18th-Century Cooking: Farm to Hearth to Table. During the years I joined many workshops in Sturbridge Village plus their Dinner in a Country Village and breakfast at the Freeman Farm. So I was pretty much hooked on heart cooking and the 18th century way of life. I joined a wonderful group of ladies and we started the “Hive” a place to improve and grow your 18th century impression and offer research about material culture in 17070’s New England. We also travel with friends and have displays of clothing and teas at Museums in Massachusetts. Many events are held at the Hartwell Tavern at Minute Man National Park. They have been gracious enough to let us play there and entertain and share our knowledge with their visitors. Please visit our “Hive” site if the 1700 interest you. Then the move to New Hampshire and a job at Strawberry Banke in Portsmouth as the co-coordinator of the Junior Role Playing workshop and eventually cooking in front of the hearth at the Wheelwright house. Not only did I enjoy making my evening meals at the hearth to take home but also talking with the visitors. I am an entertainer after all, check out my program page. Most recently I am working at the Museum of Old York in Maine as an educator, hearth cook and organizer of the Junior Docent cooking program in the summer. See some photos in the archive file Because I do make food with the docents and serve food to the public at our Tavern Dinners I took the National Restaurant Association tests called ServSafe and now have my Certification as a Restaurant Manager. I look forward to the Museum of Old York opening again this March 2012 and getting back to the hearth and teaching, however for now I’m cooking at home and enjoying doing so.

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