Posts Tagged ‘Friso’

Wombat (I Mean Rabbit) Stew

Monday, November 21st, 2011

For a few months now, I have been in discussions with another resident of the Récollets (a dutchman by the name of Friso) about how one would go about purchasing a rabbit from the markets and subsequently cook it. Friso had assured me that it was all possible and easy to do and that one day we would undertake this challenge. After many postponements and reorganisations, we finally settled on a dinner date – this last Saturday.

My friend Sonja was in town so she joined us on our rabbit hunting adventures. At the respectable hour of 10am, the three of us met in the front courtyard of the Récollets, asked each other how we all were and then headed off across the Gare de L’Est train station, dodging early morning joggers, homeless people and the usual Parisians who don’t look where they are going. We went to Marche Saint Quentin – a covered market, open from Tuesdays to Sundays, that is a three minute walk from my apartment. In this market you will find butchers, fish mongers, bakers, fruit and vegetable sellers, wine caves, and florists. There are also a few restaurants and speciality product stores selling food from Italy, Spain and South America.

Entering the markets we looked at the price of rabbits at the first shop we passed but continued on to an always reliable boucherie. Tom and I had once bought veal, lamb and beef mince from this boucherie and instead of the mince being a pre-ground concoction of who knows what, the butcher had selected three cuts of meat and then minced it right there in front of us. Who knew mince could be so delicious? The concept of ordering Steak Tartare (raw chopped up meat served cold on a plate) at a restaurant suddenly seemed slightly more appealing.

To our delight, rabbits (lapin) were on special for a bargain price of 6.50 Euros a kilo. It took a while for us to be served, this being largely my fault as I stood taking photos of the little bunnies and talking in English. Clearly we weren’t there for any real purpose other than being stupid tourists. But not the case! Friso stepped up and took charge, wishing the butcher a good morning and declaring he was there to buy a rabbit.

Lapin

Bunnies!

The butcher seemed surprised but accepted the challenge and grabbed one of the poor lifeless fellows and plonked it down on the scales. A three-pounder was perfect for the recipe Friso was working from and he asked the butcher to ‘couper en grands morceaux’. So while we paid our 8 Euros for a whole rabbit, the butcher grabbed his knife and chopped that little guy up into large pieces, butterflying the head and resting it on top of the meat pile. Amongst the legs and ribs and body bits were the heart, liver and kidneys, just in case we should want to add them to our stew. After a brief consultation with Sonja and myself, Friso agreed that it would be best if we left the head and bodily organs out of the stew because no one really wanted to eat them.

The rabbit purchasing process only took 10 minutes meaning we had time to grab a coffee and discuss what cheese we should bring that evening. As it was Sonja’s last day in Paris, she and I headed off to explore the city and left Friso in charge of cooking our little rabbit. We would rejoin at 7pm for the official eating ceremony.

Finally the moment arrived when we lifted the lid from Friso’s Le Crueset pot and the delicious smells of white wine, mushrooms, herbs and bunny rabbit hit our noses. Served with potatoes, I can very happily announce that our rabbit was one of the most delicious little creatures I have ever eaten. He was tender, flavoursome and down-right tasty, and I lift my hat to Friso for his cooking talents. While, yes, that rabbit may have been happier bounding across the fields and making lots of baby bunnies, I can say that his death was very well received and he went down with style, taste and good glass of wine.

This rabbit adventure and a recent cooking escapade of Tom where he bought a whole fish from the markets and stuffed it with herbs and lime and baked it in the oven to perfection, makes me want to become a bit more adventurous in my cooking. There are so many amazing foods to try at the markets but I am usually put off as I don’t know what to do with them. But it appears that simple is best and by finding a good recipe you can make miracles.

Veal brains

Maybe next time I will get the veal brains, sweetbread, tongue or kidneys...