Sunday Night Special: Rabbit Etouffée & Cheese Grits
It’s a two-fer. Man cannot live on pie alone so there had to be prequel to the baked apple dessert. Around Thanksgiving I was surprised to see rabbit prominently displayed on an end shelf in the walk-in meat locker at Western Beef. I don’t recall seeing it there before, but really, I’ve never looked. Rabbit’s a weirdo meat (though hardly in the realm of pony flesh) that I’d order in a restaurant but don’t consider cooking at home. But I think that’s just because it’s not typically in stores (I thought I was remembering incorrectly, but I could’ve sworn being mesmerized by a tidy box labeled Pel-Freez Rabbit in the lean-over not stand-and-face freezer case when I was a kid. I used to wonder if it was really rabbit or a misnomer like Welsh rabbit. I’m thrilled to see that this product is real) that I patronize.
Presented with the opportunity, we had to snatch a plastic-wrapped hare up to freeze for later. Later came last night when we decided to give it the etouffée treatment. Many rabbit recipes could be interchangeable with chicken. Matched with the recommended cheese grits, this was a rich, Cajun-ish (I won’t say Creole since that’s become hotly debated in the past month) stew that seemed just right for rabbit. Of course, practically any protein would taste good smothered in buttery bacon laced gravy. I didn’t notice until after starting the recipe that it was from Jacques-Imo’s (their website hasn’t been updated in eons and was as such pre-Katrina) a New Orleans restaurant that cooks incredibly creamy, sauced and decadent dishes like alligator cheesecake. I knew the rabbit etoufeée would be good based on its roots alone.
Not only have I never made rabbit, I’ve never had a grit set foot in my house either. This recipe combines a pot of quick cooked grains with two types of cheese (I broke down and bought some six-year-aged Quebec white cheddar [there was also a 3 ½ year version and I was torn] instead of going for the cheapo Tropical brand like I might normally do because I don’t eat cheddar with any frequency. That makes no sense, right? My new thing is that if I buy something rarely I can justify spending more on it. Like I don’t eat eggs often so I bought the pricier brown organic ones. I’m still not clear on why brown equals healthier to consumers, though) milk and eggs and gets baked until semi-firm and browned. Grits purists might object, but it was a nice treatment of ground corn.
This very second I’m working the night shift and eating a dreaded grapefruit (yes, I brought other things to snack on—I’m not a total citrus martyr). All I can think about is getting home for a post-midnight snack of grits and rabbit.