It was a pleasant surprise to find rabbit in Elkhart County

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By: Rachel Shenk

Rachel Shenk

On a warm and sunny spring day, I’m looking forward to spending some time outside. But instead I have to go my dentist. Nothing serious; just a routine filling. And since my dentist is in Wakarusa, I’ll be able to run some errands in my old stomping grounds.

I’m glad for the drive. It reminds me that northern Indiana is not as flat as I think. I love driving through the farmland, seeing fields laid out, ready for planting.

So my first stop takes me to Martin’s Custom Butchering to get some ground pork. I need large amounts for a family gathering coming up. I walk into the shop, hoping to also buy some summer sausage. Perusing the price board, I see rabbit listed at the bottom. I can’t believe it! So I ask the young woman if they have some. She tells me they try to carry some all the time.

See, I’ve been trying to find some rabbit to buy for awhile. A few years ago, when Jim and I were in Barcelona, also my old stomping grounds, we stayed in an apartment near Plaça d’Espanya. It was a part of the city I was a little less familiar with. Our home away from home was in a untouristed neighborhood and so we walked around looking for the local grocery store, the bakery and the café. One building caught our eye. It looked like an old garage for car repairs but the sign outside its shuttered windows read “Taverna Can Magarit.” It looked like an interesting spot, so we decided to go there to eat that very night.

We arrived to unshuttered doors and candlelight. In the front room, wine barrels were piled high and among them, candles atop wine bottles were burning and dripping wax. A long table on the side held rows of little glasses. A few mismatched chairs and tables completed the decor. The owner came out to greet us and let us know that it wasn’t quite time to open. “But,” he said, “feel free to grab a glass from the table and serve yourself some wine from the barrels while you are waiting.” We did as instructed and took our time soaking in the atmosphere. Once again, the owner came out and beckoned to us. Our table was now ready. That night, we enjoyed some delicious Catalán food: bread with tomatoes, white beans in garlic, green salads, but the centerpiece was the whole rabbit stewed in onions.

Twice now, I have reproduced this dish in European settings. But I have been looking for rabbit in Goshen so I could cook it here. So, this week, with my purchase in hand, I finally had a chance to make it here. And it was as delicious as I remembered. My favourite meat right now might just be rabbit! Funny how going to other places actually expands your knowledge of your own town.

Rabbit stewed in red wine

Ingredients

  • 1 whole rabbit, cut into six pieces
  • 1 medium onion, thinly sliced
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 Portabella mushroom, chopped
  • 2 tomatoes, in thin wedges
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • ½ tsp. dried rosemary
  • ½ tsp. Herbes de provence
  • Bacon slices
  • 1 cup red wine (you might want to use Sangre de Toro)

Directions

  1. Wrap the rabbit pieces in bacon. Fry them in a shallow pot. Remove them to a plate.
  2. Fry the onions for ten minutes until they just start to caramelized. Add garlic, then mushrooms. Add spices.
  3. Stir fry for a few minutes, then add tomatoes and fry a bit more. Finally, add red wine.
  4. Lay the rabbit pieces on top, coating them with some wine. Bring to bubbling then simmer, covered, for 45 minutes to an hour, until tender.
  5. Serve with rice and a green salad.
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