Since rabbit — as one wag put it, the "other" other white meat — is riding a wave of popularity I gamely (pun semi-intended) decided to stir up a batch of Hassenpfeffer with an original gourmet recipe utilizing a couple of sources, including dear old Good Housekeeping. The New Joy of Cooking didn't have a recipe to work with though their illustrations showing how to skin a rabbit were amusing.
I have to say that I was initially put off by rabbit. At an otherwise stellar restaurant in Napa I was presented with half a grilled, naked bunny, caught in mid hop. My usually-suppressed Bambi reflex was triggered so it was a no go.
Then, while in Sienna for my cousin Andy and Paola's wedding in her family's fairytale Castello de Montalto, at a restaurant dinner I had the most delicious ragú. Mingling with the lamb and pork was another sumptuous flavor. None of us spoke Italian (our hosts weren't with us that night) nor did any of the staff speak English so efforts to figure out the intriguing ingredient were fruitless.
Back home, cravings compelled me to track down the restaurant. I got them to send me the recipe. A ha! Coniglio. Rabbit. But now comes the tragic part: I never prepared the recipe, and the fax it was sent on has since disappeared along with all records of the restaurant. My bad.
So instead, Hassenpfeffer. Some rustic recipes call for thickening the braise of aromatics and wine with the animal's blood. Which necessitates starting with a whole rabbit. Then TNJOC would come in very handy indeed. Maybe someday…
Removing the bones from the meat before serving is my strategy against possible turn-offs. Once the bones have lent their flavor to the sauce, who wants to deal with them at dinner anyway?
If just saying "We're having hassenpfeffer" isn't enough to bring a smile, this original gourmet recipe will do the trick.
CLICK FOR RECIPE FOR ORIGINAL GOURMET HASSENPFEFFER