This recipe is a German classic and it comes from the fabulous The German Cookbook: A Complete Guide to Mastering Authentic German Cooking. I have been really loving this cookbook and all the recipes I have tried from it so far. I also really like rabbit and bought one earlier this summer with the intention of using it to make Hasenpfeffer as soon as the weather cooled down a bit. So this past weekend, I gave it a try. It is a very interesting dish where the rabbit is marinated in a pickling liquid and then pan-fried and and simmered in a sauce. The English name of the recipe in the cookbook is "jugged hare" which I imagine refers to the pickling marinade. And while the color is a little bland, the sauce is tangy and rich. It pairs nicely with the dill dumplings to sop up any remaining sauce. We also had some cucumber salad to round out the meal.
I have never seen a rabbit for sale in a grocery store. If you have trouble finding a rabbit, visit some farmers' markets in the area. We have found two farmers so far that sell rabbits. Rabbits are very lean and taste like a gamier version of a chicken, in my opinion. They can be a little tough because they are so lean, so they are best slow-stewed or braised. I'm still learning to cook them, but enjoy them every time I do. As we continue to move toward more sustainable and local foods, I think game meat and hunting will have more of a resurgence. This meal will serve about three people.
Hasenpfeffer with dill dumplings
for the Hasenpfeffer:
1 rabbit (about 2.5 lbs), cut into serving pieces
1/2 cup white vinegar
1/2 cup water
3/4 cup dry red wine
1 large red onion, sliced
10 peppercorns, crushed
4 juniper berries, crushed
1 bay leaf
4 whole cloves
1/2 teaspoon pickling spices
3 tablespoons butter
3 tablespoons flour
freshly ground black pepper
1/3 cup sour cream
for the dumplings:
1 cup flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
2 teaspoons fresh minced dill
1 tablespoon cold butter, cut into small cubes
1/4-1/3 cup cold milk
Place the rabbit in a large bowl. Heat the marinade mixture (vinegar through pickling spices) in a medium pot until it comes to a boil. Reduce and simmer for 15 minutes. Let cool to room temperature then pour over the rabbit. Cover and refrigerate for 1-2 days, turning over the rabbit pieces at least once.
Remove the rabbit from the marinade and place it on a large plate. Pat dry with a papertowel and then sprinkle it with salt. Heat the butter in a large heavy bottom skillet. When it is hot, add the rabbit and brown on all sides. Sprinkle in the flour and stir well. When the flour is browned and absorbed by the fat, strain the marinade mixture into the skillet. Let the marinade come to a boil. Gently boil for about 5 minutes and then reduce to a simmer. Season with a few grinds of black pepper. Give the rabbit a good stir, cover, and cook for about one hour. Stir the rabbit occasionally and add a touch more water if the sauce gets too thick. Place the sour cream in a small bowl. Add a few spoons of the sauce to the sour cream and stir it well. Then pour it into the skillet and stir. Let it warm through, but not come to a boil.
Make the dumplings when the rabbit is almost finished. Bring a medium pot of salted water to a gentle boil. Whisk together the flour, baking powder, salt, and dill in a medium bowl. Cut in the butter until it is evenly distributed. Stir in the milk, starting with 1/4 cup, until the dough comes together. Roll the dumplings into balls (about ping pong ball size). Gently place into the boiling water. When they float to the top, continue to let them cook for about 5 minutes. Remove with a slotted spoon.
Serve the rabbit and sauce with the dumplings. Serve with a cucumber or green salad, roasted carrots, and/or cranberry sauce.
What was I cooking one year ago?: baked potato soup
Two years ago?: zucchini bread
Three?: roasted brussel sprouts with cranberries and hazelnuts