Monthly Archives: October 2008

Cooking rabbit with white wine sauce

From time to time, when the weather gets a little cold, I remember my grand mother in our house in the French countryside. When freezing outside, we would all stay home, in the kitchen (it was the warmest room of all) and watch her cook for us. Of course, at the time, no fancy dishes or stuff like this, only what we could get from our own land. She used to have tons of rabbits. Not pets. Rabbit that she was planning on eating at some point. 

The thought of eating rabbit may very well shock some of the readers of this blog. It’s a pretty common dish in France, but I do understand why folks may think this is horrible. Rabbits are cute and lovely animals. I won’t debate this here. Now, it’s the same thing with any food you eat. You have to respect it. If you don’t care about what you eat, throw away all of it, cook it poorly, then what the hell? Now, if you do care, show respect and passion, then, at least in my mind, things are a little different. 

When you see a rabbit being killed in the sole purpose of feeding a family, or when you actually have to do it yourself (my grand mother had me do it to make sure i understand why i should always respect my food and the real cost of feeding), then your attitude towards what’s in your plate is changing. You understand the painful journey from animal to food. Every time I cook any piece animal, I always think about that (yeah, i basically had to kill myself all sort of animals for food: chicken, ducks, fish etc…). 

So when it was cold outside, my grandmother would kill a rabbit, bring it to the kitchen, and prepare it. I will skip the part where you actually prepare the animal and just focus on the cooking part. It’s comfort food, so I won’t give you any type of proportions. It has to be done “roughly”. 

First of all, ask your butcher to cut the rabbit in 6 pieces. In a big pot (use those nice le creuset ones! they’re actually authentic!), mix some canola oil and butter under high heat. Sprinkle your rabbit pieces with salt and pepper, and brown them in the pot. They have to be brown! And be very careful not to steam them by trying to put too many pieces at once. If you can only do 3 at a time, then take the time to do two batches! 

Once it’s all brown, transfer the rabbit on a plate and let rest. Throw away the oil from the pot. Deglaze your pot with some balsamic vinegar. Add some butter and then add 1 diced onion and 2 carrots roughly chopped. Cook under medium heat for 10 minutes, until soft and brown. Add some garlic cloves (i usually put at least 6-7 cloves), skinned on, and crushed. A handful of thyme sprigs, some bay leaves, and a tiny bit of rosemary. Mix all this together then lay on top the rabbit pieces. Then add some wine (i do recommend some white burgundy wine like macon villages). The amount of wine really depends on several factors: 1. how much do you like wine? 2. do you want to keep a glass for yourself while cooking? This time, i actually put the whole bottle in my dish! Mix well and let simmer (covered) for a 50 minutes to 1 hour.

At this point, you have to make a decision: do I want to eat this dish now or tomorrow? It’s actually better if you’re willing to wait for tomorrow, as the meat will then have time to rest in the juices and the braise. But you can also eat it straight away. 

Put the rabbit pieces on a plate and reduce the wine sauce under high heat. You can add some flour to make it a bit thicker if needed. 

I would serve this with fresh pasta as the combination of the pasta and the wine sauce is just phenomenal! 

Enjoy!
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What to do with a chicken?

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Last sunday, I didn’t really know what to cook. I went to the butcher to try to find some inspiration. Nada. I couldn’t get this “oh yeah” moment when you know that you’re going to have a great cooking something new and amazing. I was on my way out, thinking maybe we should go out (but in those times, i’d rather stay home!) and suddenly, it stroke me! A chicken! 

That was a brilliant idea. What I had in mind at this time was basically to do a full meal with one chicken, but different dishes. Interesting huh? My menu was still pretty straight forward: spicy chicken soup, and grilled chicken breast with salad and asian dressing. That was quite an experiment, but the goal was to use the whole chicken, including the bone for this meal! 

First, I had to cut the chicken in 6 pieces (2 breasts, 2 legs and 2 wings) and i reserved the neck. Then I used the carcass to do a chicken stock. Once the stock ready, i added some ginger, cilantro, chilies, the 2 wings and the neck of the chicken. Salt, pepper, and I let this simmer for a good hour to make sure the chicken is cooked (not that you’re going to eat it, but just in case :)). On the side, I grilled the breasts and the legs, that I had sprinkled with some rosemary, salt and pepper. I grill them skin side first, so it gets very crispy and brown, but you should start with the legs first as those will take longer. 

While this was grilling, I prepared an asian dressing. I don’t think this has anything asian to it, but the tastes remind me of asia. I mix soya sauce, rice vinegar, sesame oil, some spicy sesame oil, a tiny bit of oliver oil, some minced shallots and add it to any salad. You can go create here. Mix any type of vegetable you like: green salad, soya beans, cucumber, red pepper, chinese cabbage, spring onions, etc… Any type of combination will work great! 

Once the chicken ready, take a long p late. On one end, have a small ball with the chicken soup. In the middle, lay down some of the salad already dressed. On the right side, add one breast and one wing, sprinkled with a tiny bit of remaining dressing. 

There you go – this works quite well and is a perfect menu to use a full chicken!
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Boulevard, San Francisco

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It was about time. For ages, I’ve heard about Boulevard, at the end of Mission Street next to the Embarcadero in San Francisco. I’ve walked by it so many times. And yet, i’ve never paid a visit to one of the most famous restaurant in the city.

A few nights ago, a few friends and I decided to go. Just like that. Because when the economy goes down, you need to find a few crazy things to keep you alive: your family, your job, and of course, good times with friends. It’s on this last option that we bet on for that night. And it worked!

We called very late on a thursday night asking for a table for three. The receptionist told us that they would have a table in 30 minutes. That was perfect. Just the time we needed to move from the bar we were in, to the restaurant.

We arrived there. The place was packed. Since we were actually a bit early, we ordered a bottle of wine at the bar. Very soon after, they came to tell us our table was ready. They actually put us in one of the best table. The one by the corner, facing the Bay bridge. My friends being true French gentlemen, and knowing that this was my first time at Boulevard (they had been there at other occasions) decided to give me the best seats. So here I was. At Boulevard. Admiring the Bay Bridge at night and about to eat some amazing food.

The waitress came by very quickly and was extremely polite. We gave her our order and very soon, we were served with our first starters. As good Frenchmen, we decided to try the sweetbreads. And let me just say this: that was absolutely awesome! Just thinking about it makes me want to drive right back there and order some more! The sole was also very nice, especially accompanied by the rock shrimp and the maine lobster bouillabaisse.

As a main, I ordered the Lamb T-Bone (medium rare of course!), with some nice shiraz from california. The combination of the two was just magic, and the lamb cooked perfectly. As in really medium rare! My friends decided on the duck, and they both looked very happy. Note that at this point, we were not sharing dish anymore, as we all became way too selfish to get all we could from this amazing feast!

Finally, once we were done with our main, we decided to order all the cheeses. Yes, ALL the cheeses! We also decided to order a bottle of cabernet franc, highly recommended by the sommelier, which really pleased us.

After all this, as if we didn’t drink enough, we decided to opt for some calvados. Just to make sure we were making this dinner one of the best dinner ever. That was actually quite good, but at this point, what wouldn’t have been good?

So yeah, we had a great time. The food was delicious. The wine was phenomenal. And we had a great time. Good food, good drinks, and great company. What could you ask more?

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