Monday, August 8, 2011

rabbit 101 was a hit!

I got a new percolator. I love it. Google Rapid Brew Stainless Steel Percolators and pick one up if you're looking for a nice electricity-free way to pump your mud. My old faithful (a little 6-cupper I bought at an antique store for eight dollars) fell into the garbage can that was full of dog hair and other vacuum debris. It needs to be bleached to all get out before I use it again (I know what happens on those carpets). So I found this replacement at the Vermont Kitchen Store in Manchester and while they are not in any way a sponsor of this blog, this thing is the bees knees. I sprung for the 12-cup model with the wooden handle and it served the workshop yesterday well.

I think every kitchen unquestionably should have two things
1. A cast iron skillet
2. A stove-top percolator.

The rest is just details.

Yesterday's Meat Rabbit 101 workshop went well. I had ten attendees from as far away as Brooklyn and as close as down the road. We had a nice time even though the entire day was a muggy heat squall, threatening serious rain. But it held off, and gave the lot of us plenty of time to walk around the farm and rabbit barn all day.

The workshop started in the farmhous, with quiche, coffee and donuts. Folks arrived in groups, bearing gifts like pie filling, honey, squash, and coffee (all ways to my heart). After introductions and some beginning words we all headed outside to the animals. After a sheep and pony show, we turned to the trio of rabbits in a wagon in front of the house. I went over what to look for in stock, from ears to topline, and signs of ill animals. Everyone got their hands on the rabbit, felt what was correct and healthy. (Everyone also got to see me getting scratched open from plenty of feisty animals.) There was a lot of notepads being scribbled, and I was pleased to see people truly diving in. No one was shy. Questions shot out like crazy.

There was also a live slaughter/butchering demonstration. It started with killing the rabbit, a small doe. It was done quickly as possible, using a method of instantly breaking the animals neck through a slip-knot noose tied to a door frame. One yank and the animal's neck is broken. I still shake when I take a life. It's not a shake of guilt, or sadness, but awareness of what I have done and how, someday, it will happen to me, too. I'm a farmer. My entire life is about dirt, sex, and death, now. You can church it up if you want, but the base elements of food and creation come down to that holy trinity.

Then it was hung from the barn door, skinned, gutted, and broken down into loins and legs. It could have went smoother, I didn't have a good skinning knife, but it worked and everyone got a realistic demonstration of the job. Ian, a 10-year-old of Cathy's, kept the pelt to tan at home. The meat is in my freezer.

Right after the animal was harvested, we all came inside for a late lunch and conversation. We ate rabbit Alfredo with over pasta (recipe below) and enjoyed everyone's gifts of food. It was so nice to see the farmhouse buzzing with conversation, from rooftop bees in NYC to how one person manages a market. Everyone seemed to already have their foot in the farming door. One woman was changing her father's Dairy farm into a small homestead. A fellow who came with his girl, ran a cafe and wanted to see how to incorporate sustainable rabbit into the menu. These parts of workshops are my favorite. I savor a house full of farm talk.

got an email from Cathy and Kylie saying they had a good time and learned a lot, and Meg over at Brooklyn Homesteader is having a naming contest for the three rabbits she bought from me at the workshop. I was just happy to see that folks were interested in driving out to the farm, sharing stories, food, and coffee and willing to learn about a not-yet conventional type of dining.

Which, far as I'm concerned, is a shame. Rabbit is a wonderful, clean, meat that tastes great in roast, fried, nugget or pasta forms. It makes stews that summon spring and a family can produce 70+ pounds of meat for pennies per pound. You do have to get over that whole eating-Thumper mindset. I mean, lets be honest, America has been eating Bambi for years without qualms...

Easiest rabbit recipe in the world
take one small rabbit (2 pounds) and place in a crock pot. Cover it with a 20oz bottle of regular Coke. Add three chopped carrots, and three chopped potatoes. Turn on low and let it go all day. 8 to 10 hours later you will have a white rabbit meat so tender the meat will fall off the bone, and when it does, you know it's ready.You can eat it right out of the crock pot as a light stew, or if you are serving it to folks who might be new to rabbit, I suggest you cut off the meat and then flash brown it in a skillet with olive oil and some garlic salt. you place it over pasta with the carrots and potatoes and cover with a white sauce (I used Alfredo). It is a rich, filling, meal. Tasty and easy too!

photos Flickr's Jacob...K and Meg Paska

27 Comments:

Blogger Jennifer said...

Rabbit is such a tasty meat! We had some tonight in rappie pie (an Acadian dish). yum!

The wheels in my head are spinning...

August 8, 2011 at 10:58 PM  
Blogger Kat said...

Wow! Sounds like a great day Jenna.

August 8, 2011 at 11:49 PM  
Blogger Kyler and Sylvia said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

August 8, 2011 at 11:56 PM  
Blogger Kyler and Sylvia said...

"I'm a farmer. My entire life is about dirt, sex, and death."

Jenna, you should put this on the back of a CAF T-shirt... :) ~K

August 8, 2011 at 11:57 PM  
Blogger Paula said...

Rabbits are sort of in the forecast, but I need to get chickens down.

Out of four chicks (my city only allows five total, and we only eat two eggs a piece, so it seemed like the right number), one turned lame. She got culled at about 6 weeks.

Then the other three turned out to be roosters, so they are sitting out death row at a friend's who has forty acres.

So I'm 0 for 4 in the chicken department, but since rabbits don't crow, maybe I should rethink the order of things.

I just wish they really did lay eggs, colored or otherwise.

August 9, 2011 at 12:15 AM  
Blogger sheila said...

Paula, how about purchasing pullets that are about 15 to 20 weeks old (ready to lay). That way you are guaranteed no roosters and you haven't lost a season. Stick a small light bulb in their coop and extend their daylight during the winter by a few hours and you'll get eggs all winter. They usually cost about $15 a bird around here and are a really good deal.

August 9, 2011 at 12:57 AM  
Blogger Sylvia said...

I also started with pullets in the chicken department. I guess I am a 10 year old at heart because I needed that instant gratification of getting eggs relatively soon.
Georgia has a market bulletin from the Department of Agriculture and it lists farmers who have stuff (including livestock) to sell and that is where I got my first 5 hens.
Full disclosure: I lost one hen the first day as she got out, I chased her and she never came home. I lost one other to a possum and another to a raccoon. It seems my learning curve is very, very steep. I needed Jenna's Chicken book. It talks about things the others don't! We now have 14 layers and seem to have stabilized death by accident.
Next spring, we are adding rabbits, thanks to your suggestion Jenna.

August 9, 2011 at 6:44 AM  
Blogger doglady said...

Glad you had a successful workshop and introduced more people to a way to raise reasonably priced meat in any backyard.
I totally agree with the feeling that comes with the realization that you just killed an animal. You are right, we've been eating Bambi, Bullwinkle, and Bruin for years with little remorse.Worse yet, people don't think about the misery of the animals living their last days in CAFOs.

August 9, 2011 at 7:15 AM  
Blogger Jenna said...

K & S, I would, but I am certain I heard that somewhere else. Wish I could remember where!

August 9, 2011 at 7:24 AM  
Blogger Maria said...

That sounds like a perfect day! And the recipe sounds great too!!

August 9, 2011 at 8:49 AM  
Blogger Green Zebra Market Garden said...

I would get meat rabbits right away, but it's not legal in my city. They did however legalize backyard chickens a couple years ago (but no meat chickens) and I jumped on that opportunity.

August 9, 2011 at 9:01 AM  
Blogger grinder said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

August 9, 2011 at 9:01 AM  
Blogger Kate said...

OK, so I couldn't attend the rabbit workshop and decided that I would order a rabbit (dead) from JJ the farmer and practice cooking it instead. I was supposed to cook with my friend's mother who is sicilian but she wasn't feeling well so I tried on my own. OOOps, The kids and husband ate it but it was not super good and it was hard to get the meat off the bones (it was an internet recipe). So I'm going to try again with your recipe. Did I read correctly, a 20 oz COKE?!?!? Really? My oldest will be shocked that I would cook with Coke.

August 9, 2011 at 9:04 AM  
Blogger Jenna said...

Yes, it loses it's soda falvor, but the acids break down the meat great. It'll be succulent in the slow cooker. Cover it in a white sauce and watch their mouths water.

I only slwo cook rabbit, it gets too tough any other way for me.

August 9, 2011 at 9:08 AM  
Blogger karental said...

Thanks for the recipe. We started eating rabbit because DH had a triple bypass and rabbit is very low in cholesterol and fat. It tastes good.

I wish I could've attended the workshop. Maybe next year.

August 9, 2011 at 9:15 AM  
Blogger Megan said...

Jenna! Thanks again for having Neil and I. Your place is great, boiling over with life! The buns are set up in the barn here in the Catskills for the remainder of the season until all the farmers head back to BK for the winter. They seem happy, relaxed. I love them already. Can't wait to see how they react to one another when they are of age to start mating. Will keep you posted.

Thanks again for everything!

August 9, 2011 at 9:18 AM  
Blogger doglady said...

Megan, with buns it is bim bam thank you mam bring on another one.

August 9, 2011 at 10:24 AM  
Blogger Misty Meadows said...

Good to see your workshop was a success! We have eaten wild rabbit. it is a nice alternative to beef, lamb, chicken and pork.

I also agree with you what every kitchen should have. I have 5 cast iron frying pans and casseroles. Each one has it's purpose for specific meals. I also have a percolator-a camp stove model. Hey it does the job!!

August 9, 2011 at 11:45 AM  
Blogger Luann said...

Sounds like a wonderful day! I grew up eating wild "thumper" and "bambi". Honestly did not like it then but I am a beginning homesteader and have opened my mind again to eating something other than beef. I hope oneday to be able to attend one of your workshops. I too, work outside the homestead and right now it is hard to get off from work (we are in a nursing shortage). So from my homestead in WV to yours, Happy Homesteading!

August 9, 2011 at 12:52 PM  
Blogger Kelpie and Collie said...

Have you ever thought of becoming a travelling butcher? There is a market for that, and you could probably subsist on that income plus your workshops....

August 9, 2011 at 4:27 PM  
Blogger luckybunny said...

Sounds like everything went really well! Very interesting too.

August 9, 2011 at 5:19 PM  
Blogger Jenna said...

Kelpie, I don't think I'm good enough yet!

August 9, 2011 at 6:17 PM  
Blogger SWEETHEARTS MOM said...

If anyone is having a hard time getting over eating Thumper...go to your library and check out a book called The Family That Couldn't Sleep. After you listen to that book, you will want to raise your own or eat grass fed only.

August 9, 2011 at 6:20 PM  
Blogger Kelpie and Collie said...

I've had rabbit, and given my choices at the time (horse hearts and livers on a shiskabob stick), I chose rabbit. It was remarkably similar to chicken. This was in France, and rabbit has always been a staple there (along with horse).

August 9, 2011 at 6:31 PM  
Blogger Charles said...

Try a cast iron wok, they are incredible, and a digital electric pressure cooker.

August 9, 2011 at 9:37 PM  
Blogger Michelle said...

I raise rabbits for meat in Western Mass, Jenna, and I concur that it's simple, easy-to-raise, delicious, healthy meat!

However... I'd like to offer a different recipe for Rabbit Alfredo. I won't buy Coke for *any* reason, so...

One rabbit, any size, that will fit in your crock pot
One jar of Alfredo Sauce (or homemade equivalent)

Cover, and cook on Low for 8-10 hours. Remove the rabbit from the cheese sauce; pick the meat off the bones, and return to the sauce. Serve over noodles.

I haven't tried putting carrots in to cook with this recipe, because I don't think I can bear the thought of carrots in cheese sauce ~

August 9, 2011 at 10:39 PM  
Blogger jdecris said...

Hi Jenna,

I just got the 12 cup rapid brew percolator and am going through the learning curve. Does this percolator require you to fill it to at least the 6 cup mark or does is it capable of making smaller batches? I burned my first brew, as the water didn't seem to be turning the color of coffee. Thanks

August 29, 2012 at 9:49 AM  

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