David Darmanin of Taverna Sugu grows disillusioned with the idea of trusting butchers flaunting fresh local rabbit, and uses an imported imposter for broth.
But as hard as I try, there is one category of small-time tradesmen I absolutely abhor â€“ and that category is best described as â€˜the arsehole who lies about stocking fresh local rabbitâ€™.
Unlike farmed and wild fish, local rabbit is much harder to discern from the imported variety at first glance. There are some pointers, but no guarantees. Usually, the liver of a local rabbit is plump, unlike the stretched out paper-thin liver of Spanish and Italian rabbits. Imported rabbits are usually left to drain hanging head-down, which means that you will usually find them in a stretched out position at the butcherâ€™s. If you find one thatâ€™s crouching, chances are that itâ€™s local. Many local producers drain rabbits by cutting off the jugular, while imported ones are sometimes drained off the roof of the mouths (how appetizing is that huh?). This is why local rabbits often have a flushed, bloody head while imported ones look pale and are next-to-impossible to brown when sealing in the pan. Another possible give-away is that local rabbits are seen in different weights and sizes in the butcherâ€™s display fridge, while imported ones tend to be more streamlined.
That said, you can never be too sure until you have this sort of conversation with an arsehole who lies about stocking fresh local rabbit:
DD: Six fresh local rabbits please.
AWLASFLR: Whole or cut?
DD: Whole, can you lift that please? Let me see the liverâ€¦ Erm, thatâ€™s not local.
AWLASFLT: Xâ€™not local, â€˜l Alla?
DD: Why is the liver so thin?
AWLASFLT: There is more than one rabbit breeder in Malta, not everyone uses the same feed.
DD: Damn youâ€™re a good AWLASFLT. Can I see the certification please?
AWLASFLT: I donâ€™t have it, and I donâ€™t have to have it. This is rabbit, not pork. But I assure you, itâ€™s local. Do you want it or not?
DD: Yes, but if itâ€™s local, how come thereâ€™s a plastic label hanging off the shoulder advertising the address of a Conejo producer in Catalonia?
AWLASFLT: My â€˜imghallemâ€™ told me itâ€™s local and itâ€™s local. Now stop being a pain and buy it, canâ€™t you see the queue? Do you want it?
DD: Just one please, Iâ€™ll cook broth with itâ€¦ you dick.
When chopping the rabbit, reserve the head, neck, ribs and the vertebra between the thighs (the bone leading to the tail). In a pan, toss the off-cuts on high heat until browned well. Cover in water, season and simmer for four hours. Drain the rabbit stock and reserve.
Rub the raw, meaty rabbit pieces with rock salt and in a pot, brown in a little olive oil. Set aside. Using the same oil, sweat the onions with the tomato paste and thyme. Add the celery and carrots and sautÃ© until the vegetables start to soften. Cover in rabbit stock. Lower the heat before the liquids start boiling, add the meaty rabbit pieces and bayleaf and simmer for 40 minutes. Correct the seasoning, add the pasta and keep simmering until the pasta is tender. Serve hot, on a cold rainy day.
January 07, 2011
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Deb would you be so kind as to email me the address and phone (if available) of the farmer you buy the rabbit's from. I would really like to try him.
My email is email@example.com
January 07, 2011
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I buy my rabbits from a local farmer. I go to his wife's shop and ask for the rabbit. I wait for 20 mins and in the mean time the farmer slaughters one for me there and then. (No, I don't need to watch)But it's such a "nice" feeling to feel the warm meat in the bag and knowing that i am not being taken for a ride:)