By Tim H. Martin
I always get the blues when deer season ends. It's too cold to fish in early February and my stack of unattended honeydoos has grown into a mountain since October.
This season, I decided to beat the blues by taking advantage of Alabama's February small game season and introducing my 12-year-old son, Graham, to the art of stalking rabbits. In the evenings, rabbits graze on our deer plots and are susceptible to the skills of a stealthy boy with a pellet rifle or shotgun.
On the first outing, Graham snuck up on and collected three fine rabbits. After the hunt, he said, "Dad, this is more fun than deer hunting. You can even move around!"
When it came time to clean and cook the cottontails, I called upon a recipe from someone I consider the best of the best when it comes to cooking wild game: Chef John Folse from Louisiana.
I acquired a magnificent cookbook on Cajun cuisine from Chef Folse many years ago, and I chose his Spanish-Style Rabbit recipe from After the Hunt to cook Graham's rabbits. This dish is colorful, exotically flavorful, and a wonderful departure from traditional fried rabbit. You'll love it!
Author's Note: Chef John Folse is an author, TV host, radio personality and founder of the Chef John Folse Culinary Institute. He can truly be called the Cajun culinary ambassador to the world. And if you love Cajun cooking as much as I do, this cookbook will be the cornerstone of your collection.
Click Here To Order After the Hunt and other Chef Folse cookbooks
For more info on Chef Folse: www.jfolse.com or click here.
Rabbit Spanish-Style Recipe by Chef John Folse / Yields: 6 Servings
Comment from Chef Folse: Early Spanish settlers made hearty game stews by using a master recipe. The settlers would vary ingredients according to season, availability and tasted preferences.
• 2 rabbits, boned and cut into 1-inch cubes
• Coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
• Granulated garlic to taste
• 1 cup flour
• 1/2 cup olive oil
• 1 cup diced onions
• 1/2 cup diced celery
• 1/4 cup diced yellow bell pepper
• 1/4 cup diced red bell pepper
• 4 cloves garlic, minced
• 1 jalapeno pepper, stemmed, seeded and diced
• 2 cups chicken or game stock
• 1 cup dry red wine
• 1 tbsp red wine vinegar
• 1 (10-ounce) can ROTEL, with liquid
• 1 bay leaf
• 1 tsp saffron threads, softened in 1/4 cup hot water
• 1/2 cup pitted black olives
• 1 (2-ounce) jar diced pimiento, drained
• 1/4 cup chopped cilantro
Season rabbit meat well with salt, pepper and granulated garlic. Dredge meat in flour, shaking off excess, and set aside.
In a large heavy-bottomed pot, heat olive oil over medium-high heat. Add rabbit and cook until browned on all sides, stirring constantly. Remove rabbit from pot and set aside.
Add onions, celery, bell peppers, minced garlic and jalapeno to pot and sauté 3-5 minutes or until vegetables are wilted. Return meat to pot then stir in stock, wine, vinegar, ROTEL, bay leaf and saffron. Bring to a boil then reduce heat, cover and simmer 1 1/2 to 2 hours or until meat is tender.
Remove and discard bay leaf. Stir in olives and pimientos. Adjust seasonings to taste using salt, pepper and granulated garlic. Serve over a mound of polenta and garnish with cilantro.
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