A preliminary note of caution: if you (1) are six years old, (2) have a pet bunny or (3) are my mother-in-law, you’re going to want to scroll right past the first photo in this post.
You may want a parent or guardian to do the scrolling for you and tell you when you can open your eyes again. I’ll wait a minute while you go get him or her.
. . .
Ready? Okay, SCROLL!
Yeah, that’s a rabbit. Brian’s been wanting rabbit for a while, so I obliged this Thursday with rabbit sausage from Cindy Pawlcyn’s Big Small Plates.
There’s really no good way to photograph a dead bunny. It was either a photo of the rabbit curled into the fetal position or this one, which, while admittedly kinda lewd, I still found to be less depressing. As between the Morton’s Fork of Snuff Film Thumper and The Velveteen Fetus, I went with my gut. Hey, I TOLD you to scroll.
I made Brian do the main rabbit breakdown; I just diced up the boneless meat to ready it for the FoPro. Along with the rabbit, the sausage also has chicken thighs and pancetta, presumably to up the fat content a bit. Like I always say, why eat just one kind of animal when you can eat the whole barnyard? Maybe I can use this recipe as the jumping-off point for a truly all-American dish. We’ll take the rabbit-chicken-pig sausage, stuff it into a butterflied turkey breast, wrap it in strips of prime beef, deep fry it and cover it with cheese sauce. Ooh, maybe we should inject the turkey with ranch dressing to keep it moist. Thanksgiving reinvented!
(You may think I’m being hyperbolic. But we live in a world in which people bake whole pies into cakes, then frost them and sprinkle candy on top and put them out on the dessert table next to the Oreos stuffed into chocolate chip cookie dough and used for ice cream sandwiches, and these are thought to be good ideas. At least my idea is Atkins friendly, if you leave out the ranch.)
Once all the meat is diced into half-inch cubes, it goes into the freezer for a while before being ground. I don’t have a meat grinder, so I used the FoPro, pulsing until I had a course grind. FYI, frozen bunny is really hard to clean out of a FoPro. Along with the meat trifecta, the sausage is flavored with golden raisins, pistachios, fennel, cumin, garlic and brandy; the add-ins don’t get processed with the meat, just folded in.
Willingly adding the raisins was a big step for me, because I normally hew to the belief that cooked raisins are the devil’s spawn and I didn’t want to ruin a whole batch of rabbit sausage. Especially a batch made from a D’Artagnan-brand rabbit, also known as the “Why does a fricking rabbit cost so much goddamn money? Rabbits are EVERYWHERE?” brand. But it’s D’Artagnan, so I assume the cost pays for the stylish pied-a-terre in which the rabbits are housed and the petit fours they raise them on.
I wasn’t sure the finished sausage mix would hold together well – which was necessary, as I can’t be bothered to make sausage that requires casing – but with enough mashing, it did. I formed a bunch of small patties for dinner for the two of us, then rolled the remainder into a log for possible weekend grilling.
While the patties chilled, I made a batch of cheese grits for the fried grit cakes that were to accompany the sausage, mixed up some horseradish mustard and threw together the pepper relish topping.
It’s a good thing I read cookbook instructions so carefully and saw that the peppers for the relish were supposed to be roasted before being julienned and tossed with onion, basil and a simple vinaigrette. Oopsie! Thank god this is a cookbook-specific foible, and not one that applies to the rest of my life.
If I may switch gears for a moment, I have an announcement to make. Recently, I was flipping through an Avon catalog while taking a shit at my in-laws’, and noticed that they’ve introduced a line of “breakthough” skin creams called “New Genics.”* (Avon, not my in-laws.) No, really; they did. I guess the Avon higher-ups are committed to the idea that we live in a post-racial society.
Anyway, it inspired me to start my own series of goods and services. For example:
- Tired of the signs for your upcoming garage sale always falling off the telephone pole outside your house no matter how much tape you use? For longer-lasting hold, try our new heavy duty Pole Tacks!
- To curb excessive drinking, my new liquor store allows a maximum purchase of three bottles of spirits; we call it the Three Fifths Rule.
- Hey, parents: is little Joey having trouble focusing at school? Our summer program will improve his performance. Enroll him in Concentration Camp today!**
I might write Avon a letter and see if they want to back any of these. What? They’re only offensive if you believe in all that politically correct crap, am I right? I mean, we elected Obama, so it’s time to discard any pretense that oppression is still a relevant social force.
*Hi, Avon? Breaking it up into two words does not make it better.
*Okay, that was off-sides. But I live on the fourth floor now, so good luck throwing a brick through my window.
Right, I was making sausage. Here it is, perched on its bed of grits and accented with the not-roasted-pepper relish.
I’ve never felt very strongly about rabbit one way or the other; I grew up eating it because my Italian family often cooks it, but I can take or leave it. But I will say that if you’re going to eat rabbit, this is a damn good way to eat it, raisins and all. The fennel gave it a definite sausage feel, but the raisins and pistachios lent sweetness and texture that made it more interesting. I can understand how roasting the relish would have been an improvement, although I was fine with it the way it was. Brian was a HUGE fan and announced that he likes rabbit MORE THAN CHICKEN, and if you know Brian you know what a sea change that is. We smoked the leftover sausage over the weekend – also great, although I think the meat mix could have used a little more fat for the smoking process.
Unfortunately for Brian, we’re never having this again unless we find a cheaper place to buy dead bunnies. It was good, but it wasn’t THAT good.