I will openly admit it: I nearly cried seconds after shooting my first rabbit. Every youngster, when cutting his or her teeth on small game hunting, must come to terms with the sport and everything it entails. Tears are expected. However, I was 33 years old.
But that is the paradox for most hunters: truly loving, admiring the natural beauty of the creatures we kill. There is no convenient detachment from an animal’s death throes and what ends up on our plate. We choose to confront the reality associated with living as a carnivore. For me personally, I am nearly moved to tears at times. The sport is spiritual for me. The moments after a kill are a time for reflection—to consider the natural order of life, and where I exist among it, standing over an animal that gave its life to serve as sustenance for my family.
During my years as a cook—in restaurants, at home—I have cooked tens of thousands of plates. It is the meals with family and friends, sharing a harvest from the field or woods or water that I recall with sincere, indelible fondness. Few greater gifts exist than sharing stories from a day in God’s natural world over a dinner table, relishing the smells and flavors and company of loved ones.
I had the pleasure of sharing this dish with friends and family recently. One of the best qualities of Crock Pot cooking: it is hands off. Rabbit often requires a lot of attention to detail in order for it to turn out properly. With this recipe, it turns out amazing without sacrificing time with guests.
You are welcome to substitute frozen tater tots or other forms of potatoes instead of frying your own. Additionally, this same recipe would work great for pheasant, grouse, quail or even wild turkey, though you may to need to adjust Crock-Pot cooking time depending on size of quarry (longer for tougher and/or bigger cuts).
Once the sauce is assembled (all ingredients blended and left to simmer), keep it on low while rabbit braises. Lift the lid every so often to fill the kitchen with its aroma, and continue enjoying the experience that is a wild game dinner with friends and family.
Makes four servings.
1 rabbit; skinned, dressed and quarter (approximately 2-1/2 pounds)
Light dusting of salt and pepper
1 cup chicken stock
1 honeycrisp apple, diced
1 pound potatoes; washed, diced and fried
Irish curry sauce
1 medium onion, diced
1 Honeycrisp apple, peeled, seeded and diced
1 ounce freshly minced ginger
1 tablespoon freshly minced garlic
1 tablespoon malt vinegar
2 cups chicken stock
2 tablespoons flour
1 tablespoon tomato paste
1 tablespoon brown sugar
2 tablespoons curry powder
1 tablespoons paprika
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon all-spice
1 teaspoon cumin
1 teaspoon ground turmeric
1 teaspoon ground coriander
1 teaspoon jalapeño powder (optional)
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon black pepper
To prepare sauce: Heat a thin layer of canola oil to 350 degrees Fahrenheit on medium in a large skillet. Add diced apple, onion, ginger and garlic to skillet. Add salt and pepper. Cook until onions and apple are soft. Deglaze with malt vinegar. Add spices and chicken stock. Simmer for 10 minutes. Add flour and stir thoroughly. Put skillet contents into food processor and blend thoroughly. Once completely blended, place back in skillet and keep on low, stirring often and careful not to burn. Salt to taste.
To grill and braise rabbit: Heat barbecue grill until coals are red and flaming or propane is set to medium heat. With a field-dressed rabbit, quarter the rabbit and lightly salt and pepper all sides. Place pieces on grill and sear all sides. Remove and place rabbit pieces in a Crock Pot, add 1 cup chicken stock and 1 diced honeycrisp apple. Cover and set heat to low and timer to 4 hours. Check after 2 hours, use two forks to separate and shred meat from bones. After the total 4 hours, meat should easily flake from bones, even ribs. Be CAREFUL not to serve small bones with shredded rabbit.
To prepare potatoes: Wash 1 pound of potatoes and dice into cubes. Place diced potatoes into a large pot and cover with water. Heat pot on high until water starts to steam. Before water starts to boil, drain water. Lightly salt and pepper potatoes while they dry in large pot. Heat an inch of canola oil in a deep sauté pan on medium heat to 350 degrees. Add potatoes and turn to heat to medium-high. Turn potatoes often to achieve a golden texture on all sides. Once potatoes are golden brown, remove from oil and set on a napkin-covered plate.
To serve: Add 4 ounces of potatoes to plate and cover with 5 to 6 ounces of shredded rabbit and a helping of curry sauce. Optional: garnish with freshly minced parsley. Enjoy!