Yesterday I made Stewed Rabbit Chassuer (Hunter Style) in the slow cooker. The slow-cooker or “Crockpot” is a wonderful invention; just throw in all the ingredients (no searing, etc., required), turn it on and leave it alone all day. The end result is meat that falls off the bone and sauce that’s thick and tasty from all the vegetables that have slowly dissolved in it. I can only guess that the nutritional value is probably higher too since it never boils and there’s no steam escaping with the nutrients attached. And the pot itself is pretty cheap to buy, about 20-30 bucks.
Lately I’ve been using a secret ingredient in my cooking (that won’t be secret anymore after this!): Maple Syrup. Yup, maple syrup! In small quantities (a couple of tablespoons) it’s almost imperceptible from the sweetness perspective, but it nicely balances out any acidic sauce such as tomato. Of course, people have used sugar to do the same thing for centuries, but the maple syrup, IMHO, is just a little bit better. Try it. I use the darker and cheaper variety of Quebec maple syrup, but of course, any type will do so long as its real.
- One large onion sliced into very thin rounds or semi-rounds;
- One large rabbit cut into eight pieces;
- Four large carrots and four large celery stalks, coarsely cut into large pieces;
- One liter tomato sauce (or canned tomatoes, fresh, diluted paste, etc. will all do);
- One cup white wine;
- Two tablespoons maple syrup;
- Vegetable broth to cover (I use Pacific brand organic vegetable broth). Water will also do;
- Spices: I like smoky paprika, bay leaves, ground chipotle peppers, salt, and black pepper. Some liquid smoke is also nice.
Throw everything in the slow-cooker, turn it on, and leave it alone. Don’t stir too often, especially towards the end as the meat will separate from the bone and look a mess. Drain the liquid into a saucepan and boil down until reduced by about half. Return to slow-cooker. Put on low and keep warm until ready to serve. Goes great with homemade fresh polenta (I use the 3-minute variety), or German egg noodles. Or just plain crusty French/Italian/Greek bread.
Polenta, for those unfamiliar with it, is just cornmeal grits. A very versatile food, it can be served fresh and soft like mashed potatoes, or put into a bowl or other form and allowed to cool and stiffen in the fridge. Then it can be sliced and brushed with olive oil and grilled on the BBQ or pan-fried. A terrific alternative to potatoes, rice, or pasta.