In an attempt to get the imagery or "taste" of last week's blog out of your minds, I thought I would share a recipe that my dear friend Colette taught me last week and I also thought it could be a perfect dish for the upcoming Easter holiday. Now, you've got to be willing to try preparing rabbit which is in abundant supply over here; but if your local butcher at Vons isn't carrying it this week, this recipe works almost as well with chicken. And since I'm not quite yet ready to buy the whole rabbit and have to remove the head (complete with a little face that resembles a bad facelift) and cut the rest into morceaux (or pieces), the following recipe is based on using legs and thighs, although if you can find the derrière, Colette swears that it is the best part. Lastly, although she provides me with her recipes in neatly written French, between the translation barrier and the fact that she typically ballparks the quantities of ingredients, you might need to improvise slightly to suite your taste (i.e. for the liquid used, she used a small bowl rather than measuring cup, so I'm guessing here). Although in this recipe, I have found that it is nearly impossible to go wrong. And better yet, it is really easy to make.
Lapin Chasseur (serves 4)
4 legs with thighs (or 8 pieces)
1/2 cup flower
1 T vegetable oil
4-5 Shallots, peeled
8 1-inch size sliced pieces of thick, smoked bacon (ou 2 doigt potrine fumée cubed)
1 Bouquet Garni with parsley, thyme & bay leaf
1 1/2 - 2 cups chicken bouillon (or any other "aromatique" cube diluted in water)
1 1/2 - 2 cups dry white wine (Colette says Sauvignon Blanc is the best to use)
1 can mushrooms (champignons "de Paris")
4 - 5 garlic cloves without the germ, or sprout thingy removed to prevent bitterness...comme ça:
Heat the oil and saute the bacon and shallots for about 10 minutes. Remove from pan.
Roll rabbit in flour and brown on all sides.
Put bacon, shallots, rabbit and all their juices into a large pot.
Add bouillon, wine, bouquet garni, garlic and heat to boil.
Then add mushrooms and lower to simmer with the lid on and cook for 30 - 40 minutes.
Add fresh, parsley and serve with steamed new potatoes or pasta.
While we were preparing lunch, speaking half French and half English as we typically do, Colette entertained me with more interesting tales of her life. On this day she told me about how two German soldiers lived in her grandparents house a year and a half during WWII. I asked if the villagers were resentful as the French Resistance was very active in the area.
"Oh, not really," she told me. My grandfather was the village butcher and he made sure to save the best cuts for the villagers (that the Germans later told him they knew about but chose to allow it because it kept the people from being more antagonistic toward the soldiers). He was also instrumental in ferrying the locals across the river to the village since all of the bridges had been destroyed.
She went on to tell me how she had actually done a little resistance work herself, carrying messages back and forth in the basket of her bicycle when she was only 12 years old. I can just picture her.
So, after my weekly language, cooking and history lessons, I headed home so glad that I took a break from all the nonstop work at home to enjoy some quality time with my 82-year old bonne amie.