Daily Archives: August 13, 2006

Coniglio al Balsamico

I don’t know what came over me. When I do my weekend grocery shopping, I usually let the items in season dictate the menu, but once in a while, my curiosity takes over. I’ve come home with some pretty odd things – barnacles, razor clams, sea beans, fiddlehead ferns and wild asparagus are some recent purchases. (Luckily, my non-foodie husband is pretty tolerant and open to my experiments.) Yesterday, I wandered into Magnani Poultry and picked up a rabbit. I’d meant to get some kind of fish from Monterey Fish, but when I saw it under the glass butcher case, I had to try to cook rabbit. Maybe it because I’ve been reading Heat, and his description of a rabbit dish, done three ways (confit, sauteed and grilled) on top of dandelion greens titillated me. However, I had no inkling of what sort of recipe I would use, and when the butcher asked me how I would like it carved up, I didn’t know what to say. “Uh, four pieces,” I said, guessing. As it turns out, rabbit is usually cut into six pieces. Judy Rodgers, in the Zuni Cafe Cookbook, lays out a complicated method of separating the cuts, because they have “very different types of muscle” that cook differently. It was too late for me – my rabbit was already quartered into bony chunks. Rabbit is very lean, and has no skin to prevent the flesh from drying out, so I decided a simple braise would work the best. Though I don’t have the Babbo cookbook, I have the next best (or possibly even better) thing, Lidia Bastianich’s recipe for rabbit braised in balsamic vinegar. I decided to marry some of Judy Rodgers’ methods with Lidia’s. Judy says to briefly cure the rabbit by sprinkling a pretty generous portion of salt on it (plus thyme and crushed black peppercorns) and leaving it at room temperature for an hour, then rinsing off the salt and soaking it in milk for another hour. You can cure the meat a few days ahead of time; just make sure you rinse off the milk before storing it in the fridge. I cured it yesterday. When it came time to cook, (per Lidia) I blotted the moisture off the rabbit, and dipped it in flour. I browned the pieces on both sides in olive oil w/garlic cloves, about eight minutes total, then added a couple tablespoons of butter, thyme and half a chopped onion (Lidia says to use sage and omits the onion), turning the pieces of meat in the butter for a few minutes. I poured a couple of tablespoons of balsamic vinegar in the pot, and allowed it to reduce until nearly evaporated, then added about a cup of pilsner beer, and let it reduce for ten minutes. Then, I added enough stock to barely cover the pieces, and let it simmer for about 40 minutes. During the last ten minute, I removed the lid to let the sauce reduce and thicken. I served this on top of mashed potatoes with sauteed stinging nettles, and poured the sauce on top. Mmmmm. My dinner guests are now rabbit converts.

chicken adobo

chicken adobo
Originally uploaded by c(h)ristine.

This week, I was able to close my freezer door without shoving the weight of my body against it. Yay! Aside from keeping a sealed subzero environment with ease, this now means I am now “allowing” myself to buy fresh meat again. And that I can now eat chicken instead of all that frozen beef!

So what’s on my list? Chicken adobo, of course! Melanie my friend and another writer on this blog gave me her mother’s adobo recipe, and I’ve been dying to try it.

It’s not like I hadn’t eaten adobo before, but having grown up on my Korean mother’s chicken adobo, I was curious as to the authenticity of the adobo of my childhood. In our Korean household, my brother and I referred to my mother’s chicken adobo as “yummy chicken” (moniker is self-explanatory). She herself had discovered “yummy chicken” from her FIlipino nurse coworkers during one of the many shared lunches.

The stuff was sour, it was sweet, it was salty, and it was savory. Everything except bitter (well, unless you bit into a whole peppercorn). It’s a dish that satisfies all the tastebuds on your tongue! My mother’s chicken adobo had onions, potatoes, and carrots in addition to the chicken and other traditional ingredients (vinegar, soy sauce, sugar, garlic, bay leaves, and peppercorns).

And Melanie’s mom’s recipe? It was delicious. I added the carrots, because I can’t help putting my own personal stamp on recipes. With a big pile of rice, it brought me back to my childhood. “Yummy chicken” indeed. And call me a bit weird, but I like cutting up a whole chicken. (it tastes better with a whole chicken, because of the bones).

p.s. Melanie gave her mother’s recipe to a coworker of ours. He made and said, “The soy sauce is so salty.” Don’t drink the sauce, dude. You want to eat it with a big mound of white sticky rice which offsets the rich sauce. But focus on the chicken. It’s the (ahem) shiznit.

Sorry no recipe here–it’s a secret recipe…but google “chicken adobo recipe” and you’ll be rewarded.

Plus ca change…

I can’t really help myself with the French titles, what with having heard a massive amount of French over the past little while (which is what happens when your partner, his family and most of his friends are French Canadian). What the title really refers to is the same saying in English, “the more things change, the more they stay the same…” What I’ve noted this evening, however, has both to do with food and lifestyle. The more things changed, well in this case – they’ve changed.

I realized tonight that a year has gone by since perhaps one of the best summers of my life. I spent it out socializing with a terrific group of guys – all of us single, happy, free, unencumbered. We partied till the wee hours – drinking, dancing, carousing, eating, playing, flirting – until we collapsed back in our respective homes until the arrival of another weekend.

Boy, things have changed.

I spent the day running from shopping to coffee to more shopping to home to send the boyfriend off on his merry working way so I could get down to the business at hand. Making jam. Peach jam. One plain, one with ginger. Making gougeres to test a recipe for Christine. Filling them with smoked salmon and capers for a midnight snack. Freezing the rest to make for company as appetizers. Prepping ingredients for tomorrow’s dinner – Japanese curry rice. Taking pictures of coffee and my Italian ingredient centre of my kitchen. Listening to music blaring from iTunes in a somewhat disturbingly psychic awareness of my mood, playing Tori Amos when needed and Madonna (“Push”, from Confessions) just after Christine emailed to say, “Enough with the Tori!” 🙂

Yep, I’ve hit my Carlsberg years. I’d rather stay in on a Saturday night cooking cheese puffs and skimming foam off jam and drinking Illy espresso than quaffing cheap pitchers of beer and getting annoyed by the silly drag queens who insist that blue is a good colour for eyeshadow. The venue has changed, the company has gone its separate ways – but I’m still having a good time in my own little way; the best summer I’ve ever had in so many ways. Plus ca change…