Monday, September 20, 2010

Jerk Rabbit with Wild Rice n' Peas

Dinner tonight combined jerk (a classic Jamaican and Caribbean process for flavoring and grilling food, usually chicken) with rabbit (an animal that hungry prairie people have been known to stew, barbecue, or cut up in little pieces and put into casseroles). I remember my mom cooking rabbits for a dinner party when I was in elementary school, to serve to my father's friends Clyde and Irene. And, jerk chicken is actually THE reason I quit being a vegetarian (after 10 years), after I moved to Toronto in 2003.

Rabbit meat is an acquired taste - but quickly acquired! The first few bites felt like we were eating chicken that had gone off; then, before I knew it, we had devoured both the hind and fore legs and were happily gnawing the bones. Thanks for dinner, Mr. Bunny! The jerk rabbit turned out spicy-sweet and fantastically tender.

I sided the jerk bunny with another Caribbean classic, rice n' peas, prairie-i-fied by substituting Canadian wild rice for the usual white rice. The coconut milk, onion, garlic, thyme, and hot pepper gave a fantastic party-time flavor to the chewy, substantial grains.

Healthy, too: rabbit is apparently a source of high quality protein and lower in fat than beef, pork, or chicken. Wild rice has tonnes of good stuff, like fibre, iron, and B vitamins. Which are good for your stress. Rabbit farming is increasing in Canada, and you can easily get locally produced wild rice anywhere from the rockies to Dryden.

Verdict: Superlicious! Didn't even need any hot sauce. The boy-toy liked it too - "Delicious!" - and remains my willing guinea-pig.


Jerk Rabbit
Serves 4-6.

3-4 lb rabbit, cut up into pieces (note: the rabbit was surprisingly easy to butcher; quicker than a chicken and also way more freaky! you end up with hind and fore legs, 2 racks of little ribs, and a big fleshy belly that is referred to as the saddle, split into two halves.)
1 large onion, chopped
2 jalapeno peppers, seeded and chopped
4 sprigs thyme, leaves removed from stems
1.5 c soy sauce
1 c white vinegar
0.5 c vegetable oil
4 tbsp brown sugar
1 tsp each cloves, nutmeg, and allspice
(note: some people like to use green onions in their jerk. I'm not into that sort of thing, but if you are, add 6-10 chopped green onions.)

1. Place rabbit parts in a bowl.
2. Combine all ingredients except rabbit in a blender for about 15 seconds.
3. Pour mixture over rabbit.
4. Cover and refrigerate at least 4 hours.
5. Preheat oven to broil and place rack at the top.
6. Broil about 20 minutes, turning meat 2-3 times until browned and crispy on all sides.

Wild Rice n' Peas
Serves 6.

2 small onions, chopped
4 cloves garlic, chopped
2 sprigs thyme, leaves removed from stems
1 tsp oregano
3 tbsp vegetable oil
3 cups chicken or vegetable stock
2 tsp pepper sauce
1 c coconut milk
2 c wild rice
2 c red kidney beans (canned or cooked)

1. Saute garlic, onion, thyme and oregano in oil until soft.
2. Add stock, pepper sauce, coconut milk, rice, and salt and pepper to taste.
3. Cover and simmer for 20-25 minutes.
4. Add beans, mix, and simmer for another 20 minutes.

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