While I haven’t really been counting, I knew I was fast approaching a glorious century of posts – 100 food related musings. And, I suppose, I’d been thinking about how best to celebrate this achievement. Should I follow conformity and bake a cake? Perhaps a perfectly cooked steak frites with a béarnaise sauce would be more appropriate? Or maybe just a little mention, like above?
Ultimately it proved to be a moot point because according to my records, the last post I made was, in fact, my hundredth. I managed to forget my own blogging birthday. But in hindsight maybe it is better that way. There was no fanfare, no bunting and no over the top glorification. Just a simple pasta dish eaten in the sunshine, which is perhaps more in keeping with my general philosophy.
However, I’m not willing to let this milestone go completely unmarked so it is my great pleasure to welcome you to this, the 101st Just Cook It culinary tale. And how did I celebrate this epic feat? I barbecued a bunny.
A while back we were driving through the vast countryside of East Anglia and inadvertently came across a sign pointing the way to a game dealer. It was advertising all sorts of delicious items and there was little we (I?) could do to resist the lure of the wild. We followed the sign. And another one. And another one until a fourth directed us to a large farm.
We were greeted by a smiling and buxom woman who was a living caricature of a stereotypical farmer’s wife. I reckoned she had milked many a cow and churned countless churns of butter. She led us to a large outbuilding containing five enormous chest freezers which were flung open with happy abandon to display the staggeringly vast array of game within.
All the usual suspects were there – pigeon, pheasant, rabbit – but amongst the vacuum packed bits of flesh were other, more unusual animals like squirrel and boar. I was almost rendered silent by excitement before the disappointing realisation that I had just ten pounds in my pocket punctured the happy reverie I was in.
We chose judiciously, vowing to come back with deeper pockets and an empty freezer at home. Our final, but small, haul contained a couple of pigeon pies, a selection of mixed game with which to make a casserole, and a wild rabbit, which I had never cooked before. The pies were eaten that very night, complete with mashed potato and baked beans and the casserole cooked long ago but the rabbit remained in the freezer until last weekend.
We waited for an opportune moment to cook this magnificent creature. Having only eaten rabbit once, I was a little unsure what to do with it but was certain I wished to keep it as unadulterated as possible, much to the chagrin of my girlfriend who had her heart set on satay bunny. Not being too keen on the sweetened peanut taste of satay, I exercised my power of veto and announced that it was barbecue time.
Although it had been eviscerated and skinned, the heart, liver and kidney had been left in situ so these were carefully removed before the rabbit was jointed into legs, shoulders and loin. The whole lot was marinated overnight in a little white wine vinegar, olive oil, garlic and rosemary.
Whilst the barbecue heated up, some potatoes were par boiled and two of the courgettes from the garden thinly sliced, ready to be grilled over the hot coals. Our little barbie, an ideal size for two, sat on the ground outside the kitchen – a chair either side of it – and we warmed ourselves in the quickly cooling summer air. The larger pieces of rabbit – legs and shoulders – were cooked for about twenty minutes, the loin for about ten and the skewers of heart, liver and kidney for no more than three or four.
These were all kept warm while the potatoes and courgettes blistered and darkened over the hot coals. The whole lot was munched down outside with the heat from the barbecue keeping us from shivering. Dressed with a little tahini and yoghurt, the courgettes and potatoes were delicious, the slightly charred flavour accentuating the sweetness of the vegetables. The offal of the rabbit was no better than ok, perhaps it had been cooked a fraction too long, but the loin, legs and shoulders were delicious with a slightly porky flavour and a pleasant chewiness.
We ended the evening huddled close to the hot coals and me promising to cook satay rabbit before too long. Perhaps it will make an appearance in the 201st post, we’ll just have to see.