Saturday, March 8, 2014

Hobbit Test Kitchen: Brace of Coneys

I should have listened to Samwise Gamgee. He tells us, “there’s only one way to eat a brace of coneys.” Then he stews them.

I knew this. But did I listen? Well, yes… until I went trolling around AllRecipes and found one for braised rabbit with mushroom sauce. That sounds brilliant, doesn’t it? Hobbits are nutty for mushrooms! Perfect.

So I started my experiment. Usually when a recipe calls for a cream soup, I make up a white sauce of my own. It’s got less salt and less of a “can” taste. I can usually get a good flavor with the addition of some bouillon and spices.

Then, I thought I’d add some variety to our mushroom palate with this dish. I’ve only ever been known to like white mushrooms, but I hadn’t tried shitake yet, and the farmer’s market vendor who grows them did such a good sales job that I was thoroughly convinced I’d love them. So instead of mushroom soup, carrots, and potatoes, I was going to have white sauce, mushrooms, and mushrooms.

When it came out of the oven, it was beautiful. It took a lovely picture. But unfortunately, it turns out I don’t like shitake mushrooms. And of course by cooking them all together like this, their flavor was in everything.

Then it turned out that maybe we don’t like rabbit much, either. I say “maybe” because we couldn’t tell through the mushroom flavor. What was rabbit? What was shitake? It’s hard to say.

One thing was for sure: it’s possible that the rabbit lady was right, and rabbit tastes like chicken; but it sure doesn’t look like chicken. And while I can get very adventurous with meat that’s big enough to come in steak or cubed stew meat form, I’ve learned that I can get a bit funny about smaller animals that I’m not accustomed to. Although frog legs are delicious, I have a terrible time with them because you can clearly make out the shape of their little hips. It gives me a sad.

Another problem is that the texture was strange and chewy near the bone. But I think that, if I listen to Samwise like I should’ve in the first place, all these problems can be solved. Coneys can be stewed much longer than they can be cooked in a cream sauce, making them tender all the way through; and in a stew you would take them off the bone, solving my issue with their shape. And as for the shitakes, well, I just won’t use any.

Stews are simple enough that I’ll skip out on the test kitchen part, though. We’re getting down to the wire here, too. The time for experimentation is passed! 

One Shitake, Two Shitake, Three Shitake, HORK
¼ cup all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon ground black pepper
¼ teaspoon onion powder
1 dressed rabbit, cut up
3 tablespoons vegetable oil
3 cups milk
3 T. cornstarch
3 cubes bouillon, crushed
poultry seasoning
1½ - 2 cups shitakes, cut into chunks
1½ - 2 cups white mushrooms, cut into chunks

Combine flour, salt, pepper, and onion powder in a bowl, and set aside. Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Coat each piece of rabbit with the seasoned flour mixture, and cook in the hot oil for 3 to 5 minutes per side, until the rabbit pieces are golden brown. Remove the rabbit from the skillet and set aside.

Preheat an oven to 325F.

In the skillet, blend three cups of milk with three crushed cubes of bouillon, 3 tablespoons of cornstarch, and a sprinkling of Bell’s poultry seasoning. Heat (no higher than medium) while whisking until it the cornstarch cooks and it thickens. You may want to add some salt to taste, also.

I used the ceramic part of one of my crockpots to make this dish. I greased it and layered the bottom with mushrooms, then laid the rabbit on top, and put in the remaining mushrooms. I then poured the sauce over the whole thing, put the lid on, and set it in the oven. I let mine bake for 1 1/2 hours.

No comments:

Post a Comment