It is November, the ‘slaughter month’. You immediately think of the pig. The boar was slaughtered at the coming of the dark days because the fodder became scarce. Pig and human have the same food. After the pig had gratefully eaten the leftovers, bean pods and potato skins, it became a competitor for humans in the autumn. So the beast went into the barn, but on a hook or in a tub of brine. To get through the winter when there were fewer vegetables.
The same happened with the rabbit. Rabbits are for science lagomorfen (the order of rabbits and hares) and therefore no rodents! Our rabbits (Oryctolagus cuniculus L) were introduced into northern Europe from Spain and the Maghreb at the time. Before that, they lived only in those areas. They were attractive because of their handy size and modest needs in the yard. Rabbits were fed grass. Grass from the side of the road. Everyone could join and that grass was not used for anything else. Often it was the children’s job to cut grass every day and take it to the rabbit hutch.
The rabbit’s head was always sold with it to prove it wasn’t a cat
Rabbits therefore also come to the table in the autumn, when the grass no longer grows. Sometimes later too. In Tournai, for example, it is customary to eat rabbit on Lost Monday, the Monday after Epiphany. Rabbit was meat for the poor. It didn’t get into the kitchens of the rich. However, rabbit has nice white flesh, sweet tasting and tender.
The big problem with rabbits is that such an animal in the display case of the poulterer weighs more than one and a half kilos. A bit much for a small family. You usually find it with the Moroccan. They still have whole rabbits with heads there. It was always sold with it to prove it wasn’t a cat. But the real enthusiasts like to gnaw on a rabbit’s head, and it also gives flavor to the sauce.
Rabbit with droppings
Chop the animal into handy pieces. The buttocks go apart, the front legs too and then there is the wonderful back. Kidneys and liver are kept aside for a while.
Roll the rabbit pieces in the flour. It will soon bind the sauce. In a large cocotte, let the pieces color in butter or malt. Turn over and over until everything is brown and then set aside. Then you put the onions and shallots in the fat, cut into pieces that are not too small. Add some flour and herbs on top: salt and pepper, parsley stems. Sage is also not bad with this white meat, the daredevils go for star anise. Add the meat and pour enough beer over it to almost cover it. For such preparations it is best to choose beer with few hops, such as Rodenbach, Geuze. Now sprinkle some dried plums on top with a generous hand. How they ever ended up in the recipe is just as big a question as the almonds in the trout. But that’s how it should be. My mother did not like it, she replaced the plums with raisins and currants. “Look,” she would say, “rabbit with droppings!”
Not like the Greek
If you use cherry beer, do not take prunes, but add a jar of cherries in light syrup at the end. Taste the sauce after a while. Maybe a touch of acid (a splash of vinegar) should be added. Sweet should be enough with the plums. Let it simmer very slowly, about an hour, I think. Turn now and then. Fifteen minutes before everything is ready, add the liver and kidneys. That liver is true food from the gods!
Do not let it simmer for too long. I have at Greek restaurants Greek Rabbit eaten that was really impossible to chew, only threads and fibers! That kept me away from the Greek for a long time. As with all traditional regional dishes: this preparation is even tastier the next day. Tasty.
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‘Rabbit with droppings’ – Grass-fed meat for the poor – Foodlog