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Brodu tal-Fenek

David Darmanin of Taverna Sugu grows disillusioned with the idea of trusting butchers flaunting fresh local rabbit, and uses an imported imposter for broth.

 
Brodu tal-Fenek

Information

Main Ingredient Rabbit
Preparation Time 3-4 hours: Slow Cooking
Cooking Time 3 hours
Course Main: Meat
Recipe Serves 4
Recipe Type Traditional: Maltese
One thing I learnt from Italian kitchens (apart from translating 567 swear words in six different dialects of the centro-sud) is to hold your friends close and your food suppliers closer. It becomes so much easier when you actually befriend farmers, fishmongers, butchers and Charlene - the 22-year-old brunette cashier at the food market (hehh).
But as hard as I try, there is one category of small-time tradesmen I absolutely abhor – and that category is best described as ‘the arsehole who lies about stocking fresh local rabbit’.
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 butcher’s. If you find one that’s crouching, chances are that it’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 butcher’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 liver… Erm, that’s not local.
AWLASFLT: X’not local, ‘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 you’re a good AWLASFLT. Can I see the certification please?
AWLASFLT: I don’t have it, and I don’t have to have it. This is rabbit, not pork. But I assure you, it’s local. Do you want it or not?
DD: Yes, but if it’s local, how come there’s a plastic label hanging off the shoulder advertising the address of a Conejo producer in Catalonia?
AWLASFLT: My ‘imghallem’ told me it’s local and it’s local. Now stop being a pain and buy it, can’t you see the queue? Do you want it?
DD: Just one please, I’ll cook broth with it… you dick.
Ingredients
What you need: ¼ cup extra virgin olive oil 1.2 kg rabbit, chopped 2 medium sized carrots, diced 1 medium sized local red onion, finely chopped Celery stalk, finely chopped 1 tbsp concentrated tomato paste Rock salt 100g anellini pasta Bay leaf Thyme Seasoning
Method

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 sauté 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.

Shopping Tips
For genuine local rabbit, visit the rabbit producer’s stall at the farmer’s market in Ta’ Qali on Tuesdays and Saturdays. Each animal comes in a labelled bag, with batch number and date of slaughter. The stall-keeper is usually stoned, so allow for a good 15 minutes to be served. Budget an additional 15 minutes for every other person waiting to be served before you.
 

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Mauro
January 07, 2011
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There is another rabbit farmer who has a rabbit farm and you can buy directly from him in Birzebbuga

 
 
Anthony Cachia
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.

Thanks
Anthony
My email is toniocachia@yahoo.com

 
 
Deb
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:)

 
 
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