I get several complaints about the meat of rabbits
being rather dry on the table, and I think (from past cooking efforts)
that this can be as they say.
Cook it any way you like – especially fry
or bake – and it can be dry, even when steamed slowly after it is browned
the first time, then re-browned after steaming. But this procedure does
make it more tender, even an old bunny. Then, if you want to go whole hog
(make that whole rabbit), a pan of nice, dark milk gravy (even water gravy)
will further tenderize it and help the dish moisture-wise. Gravy does not
have to be made with milk. If there is good moisture when the steaming
process is done, just stir in two or three tablespoons of flour, stir it
until it cooks a few minutes with all of the skillet “gougings,” and soon
you will have a beautiful gravy. Stirring the gravy will dislodge the gougings,
but a good metal spatula helps. Don’t let it thicken too much.
To assure these fine eating qualities, I also
throw in from the start of any rabbit dish a brace (even three) of short
ribs of beef with a good amount of fat. Make each rib two or three
pieces so it gets around well. The ribs (flat bones in) eat just about
as well as the rabbit.
Of course, side dishes (dishes like fried potatoes
with onions), a good green salad, and sundry other dishes will go a long
way toward making the meat seem more moist.
In the case of an old rabbit being tough when
steam-fried, there always is the option of plopping it in a saucepan, dicing
an onion on it, and cooking it (covered, so the moisture won’t steam away)
very slowly with chicken broth (commercial OK), and half an hour before
dinner, enriching it with a flat of homemade, rolled
out dumplings. The flour involved will create a rich white gravy, that
smacks of excellence as it dribbles down the chin.
All of these rabbit dishes will be made a tad
better by a pan of hot buttermilk biscuits for sopping up the dumpling
juice or the gravy.
SIGNS OF SPRING –
The first evidence of squirrels getting bald spots on the back pointed
a telling finger at the coming of spring a few days ago, so more are apt
to follow. To deliver a foreword on the culprit that causes this natural
phenomenon we will shoot down the romantic explanation that those affected
animals are lining a cozy den for little fellers. Taint so!
What it is is gibberellic acid hair loss in spots
on Mr. or Mrs. Bushytail’s back. The acid can develop in old corn on which
the effected have eaten.
More romantic is the fact that it is not a big
thing yet, but I am seeing some paired off geese that seem to have broken
from larger flocks and are investigating possible nest sites on the White
River island behind my house.
Some maple trees have swollen buds now, too.
Then, of course, there is the Indianapolis Boat,
Sport & Travel Show on our threshold (Feb. 20-March 1) There could
be – often is – open-water fishing in Indiana during this show. It is,
as always, in several buildings at the State Fairgrounds.
– In last weelk’s column this department lamented what seemed to be certain
that the sub-zero nights had either frozen the Carolina wrens out or sent
them carpetbagger style back home. We hoped it was not true although we
know they don’t like cold feet.
Well, I am happy to report I saw at least one
in very heavy cover later, so my fears may have been unfounded. At any
rate we would like to hear about the species from around the state.
Rich brown bodies and white stripe over the eye
will help identify the bird.