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Monday, January 23, 2012

“Old-Fashioned Home Cooking, Pt. IX: ‘Fricassee of Rabbit—a Delightful Dish from Long Ago’ by Chef V. Vicky Mazarotti”



Our new band for the next month or so is one of the best bands to come out of Los Angeles in the 1960’s: the Byrds.  They went from Electric Folk to Psychedelic to Country Music and shined each and every step of the way.  Their ninth album—“Preflyte”—was released on July 29, 1969 and is still as wonderful today as it was then, more than 40 years ago.  We love it and think you will, too, so go out and buy it by using the handy link to Amazon.com, the world’s largest online retailer and get it now! You won’t be disappointed! [Unfortunately, the link may no longer be possible due to the fact that the Amazon.com Associates’ Program’s status is up in the air due to the fact that our home base is in California—you can still go there and BUY it!] Thank you, the Elemental News of the Day.



                                                                               

Here's the countdown to December 21, 2012: from today, we have 333 days to go until the End of Days, the End of Time, Armageddon, and the End of the Mayan Calendar!  Everybody, beware!


                                                                                   


STINKBUG 2012

                                                                                   

Chef V. Vicky Mazarotti

END Commentary 01-24-2012

Copyright © 2012 by MHB Productions

Word Count: 1.965.



CULINARY POLITICS



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Elemental News of the Day Commentary-Opinion-Sports-Foodservice for Tuesday, January 24, 2012 by Chef V. Vicky Mazarotti

OLD-FASHIONED HOME COOKING, PT. IX

Old-Fashioned Home Cooking, Pt. IX: ‘Fricassee of Rabbit—a Delightful Dish from Long Ago’ by Chef V. Vicky Mazarotti



Bakersfield, CA, 01-24-2012 T: Today, we are going to take another trip down “memory lane” to a time when my grandmother and mother ruled their kitchens and whatever they cooked came out tasty and delicious.  I remember my mom fixing rabbit, a delicacy to me that seemed to be more widely available back in the 1960’s and early 1970’s than it is today.  Sure, German restaurants fix it and it’s a standard item on most of their menus but to find it in the grocery store in modern-day America is difficult.  But if you can find it, by all means, buy it and prepare this recipe as it’s one that you’ll never forget.

Back in the day, we had a truck that used to drive about the neighborhood in much the same way as the old Helm’s Bakery trucks plied their courses through middle-class suburbia selling rabbits.  I have no idea what the name of the company even was as I was just a kid back in those days but the drivers sold rabbits that had already been dressed and prepared for sale.  My mom would go out there; her money clutched in her hand, and would haggle with the driver over his prices.  She used to tell me that it was an important part of the culture to be able to haggle with a salesperson because many times, they increased the mark-up on their prices so as to make a little side money.  Where she garnered this information from, I have no idea, but maybe she was involved in a similar business in her youth.  Nowadays, there aren’t ANY trucks driving through neighborhoods selling anything more than ice cream and frozen novelties.  So, you’ll have to scour the stores in your area or perhaps go online and find your whole rabbits there.  If you do, you’ll want to cut them into serving pieces always making sure that you’ve rinsed them well.  Smell the meat—it should have absolutely NO smell other than the clear clean smell of fresh-dressed meat.  Note, too, that it’s very low in fat which means you always have to take great care in preparing it lest it come out tough and chewy like shoe leather! Let’s do it:

FRICASSEE OF RABBIT





Yield:  4 servings / Mis-en-place: 1.25 hours:




Qty.
Measure
Item
Other
The Rabbit:
.25
Cup
Vegetable oil

1-2
3.5-4# (total)
Whole rabbits, cut into serving pieces

Seasoned flour

4
Strips
Thick maple bacon, chopped

2
Ribs
Celery, chopped

1
Each
Carrot, peeled and chopped

1
Each
Yellow onion, peeled and chopped

1
Cup
Chopped leeks

1
Teaspoon
Whole thyme

.75
Cup
Reserved bacon fat/rabbit drippings (divided into the following):
.25
Cup
Reserved drippings

.5
Cup
Reserved drippings

.25
Cup
All-purpose flour

2
Cups
Half’n’half

.5
Cup
Chenin blanc

3/8
Teaspoon
Kosher salt

.25
Teaspoon
White pepper

3
Cups
Sliced button mushrooms

.125
Cup
Freshly minced parsley
Rinsed
Steamed Rice:
1.75
Cups
Boiling water

1
Cup
Long-grained white rice

.5
Teaspoon
Kosher salt

.25
Teaspoon
White pepper

.25
Teaspoon
Whole thyme




Method:

1.      Mis-en-place: have everything ready with which to work. Preheat standard oven to 325°F or a convection oven—fan “on”—to 275°F.  Note: always pay close attention to the cooking of rabbit as this meat is nearly-fat-free while being high in protein. It is important that you cook it low and slow—braising it—so that the finished product is easy to cut and a pleasure to eat.

2.      Place an oven-proof, heavy-duty skillet with a tight-fitting lid atop a medium flame and add the vegetable oil and the chopped-up maple bacon.  Dust the rabbit pieces in the seasoned flour and shake off the excess; set aside.

3.      When the bacon’s medium-cooked, add the cut-up rabbit pieces as well as the celery, carrots, onions, leeks, and the thyme.  Quickly roll the rabbit around in the oil to coat it and then pull from the flame.  Clamp on the lid and place inside your preheated oven.  Cook for ONE hour. During this time, remove the lid and stir the rabbit pieces around but no more than 2-3 times as too much steam will be allowed to escape.

4.      After an hour, remove the pot and strain the liquid from it, approximately .75 cup, and reserve it, dividing it into the TWO specified measures.  Discard the vegetables.  Place the chicken pieces on a sheet pan sprayed with PAM or some such other food release spray and keep warm in your oven over the next 5-8 minutes. 

5.      Place an empty pot over a medium-high flame and pour the QUARTER-CUP measure of reserved bacon fat/liquid into it.  Stir in the flour to form a rudimentary roux and cook for 2 minutes, stirring constantly.

6.      Raise the flame to high and add the half’n’half, wine, and the rest of the reserved c liquid/grease to it.  Continue stirring until a sauce has been formed.  Bring to a boil and keep there for TWO minutes.  Season with the salt and pepper and stir in the mushrooms.  Return the rabbit pieces from the oven to the sauce, blending well, and cover with the lid.  Allow it to bubble a final minute or two atop the stove and then return to your oven for a final 30 minutes or so of cooking time.

7.      While the rabbit’s finishing, prepare the rice.  Have the rice water in a quart-size saucepot equipped with a tight-fitting lid.  Bring to a boil, add the seasonings, and stir in the rice.  Allow to bubble for 6-7 seconds and then stir it up and do so well.  Be sure to scrape the sides and bottom to keep it from scorching.  Bring to a boil once more and keep there until the liquid has reduced to the level of the rice.  Clamp on the lid and cook it in the oven alongside the rabbit container for 20-25 minutes or until the rice has absorbed the liquid.  Remove it from the oven, fluff with a kitchen fork, and allow the steam to escape.

8.      Bring the rabbit out of the oven and remove the lid.  If the sauce has broken or if there’s a lot of oil swimming at the top of the pot, quickly transfer the liquid to a saucepot and bring to a boil, stirring almost constantly.  Make slurry out of cornstarch and whisk it in, tightening the sauce up.  You can do this in a couple of minutes.  Allow the tightened sauce to bubble a few moments and then prepare to serve:

9.      Place the rice onto a large serving platter and cover with the rabbit pieces.  Pour the sauce over all and if you have any left, place it into a gooseneck and bring to the table when you serve the rabbit, family-style.  Cover the finished dish with parsley flakes, bring to the table with the rice and enjoy.

10.  Steamed, buttered peas with onions or carrots make the perfect accompaniment.  Be sure to serve your Rabbit Fricassee with fresh bread and butter and you have yourselves a complete meal.

This is the classic Rabbit Fricassee which almost all of us know and love.  You will find none better anywhere else than this family recipe.  Always note that cooking rabbit is somewhat different than other domesticated animals in that it’s extremely low in fat which means you should never allow it to boil or to cook at too high a heat.  Always pay close attention to the meat during the cooking process so that it exits the oven fork-tender.  I realize that nowadays, rabbits are not as available as once they were but if you can find them, they’re truly a marvelous treat.

Here’s the Seasoned Flour recipe you will need:

SEASONED FLOUR





1. About 2.5 cups:




Qty.
Measure
Item
Other
2.5
Cups
All-purpose flour

1
Tablespoon
Cayenne pepper

1
Tablespoon
White pepper

1.5
Tablespoon
Hungarian paprika

1.5
Teaspoons
Granulated garlic

1
Tablespoon
Kosher salt

2
Teaspoons
Parsley flakes




Method:

1.      Combine all ingredients together and store in an airtight jar, baggie, or whatever else and either keep at room temperature or in your freezer until needed.

It’s important to have a seasoned flour recipe for breading different foods and this is a good one.  It’s a smart thing to make plenty of this up ahead of time keeping it in your pantry in a sanitized, airtight container.  NEVER re-use it for anything other than the SAME meat you used the first time around and always be sure to keep used seasoned flour in an airtight Zip-Loc freezer baggie, labeled and dated as to what was in it.  Always practice food-safety in your homes or on your jobs so as to not cause foodborne illness.  Getting sick is no joke and is everyone’s responsibility in preventing it.

---------------------------------------------

As always, we have a great time around here and that is why we want all of you to become a part of the organization by submitting articles to us for inspection and full-credit.  It is a great thing if you would do this as it’s a symbiotic relationship: we give you the space to share your recipes and in return, you send us more and more people who will hopefully become dedicated followers of the END.  In this day and age of multi-diversity across the Internet, it is important that the voices of more and more people from all walks of the foodservice profession are heard—join us. We urge our readership to write to us and leave comments and if there are any of you, who would care to write an article for us, please get in touch via Magnolia Hilltop Brewers, P.O. Box 20669, Bakersfield, CA 93390-0669.  We obviously don’t pay anything but you will be given a full byline and that’s worth its weight in gold.  We want as many people who want to write to be able to do so and we believe that by presenting a forum for our fellow chefs, we are doing something for our beloved industry.  We love diversity and hope to add new and different authors to our pantheon of chefs, food and beverage directors, and culinary professionals.  Come on and join us, it’ll be fun! Expect that when all of us have run through our cycle, we will be introducing some brand-new talent or so I’m told.

Please remember to avoid doing business with AARC Technology in Bakersfield, CA.  These people don’t care about the small customer anymore but instead put all of their attentions onto their corporate customers. It’s sad to not remember why one has the success they do or from where it came.

Today, we did a “first”—we made a rabbit recipe which has never been done at the current Elemental News of the Day or at the old one.  Rabbit is one of those domesticated creatures that aren’t in vogue anymore as people seem to have forgotten all about them which is a terrible shame.  The meat is tasty, somewhat along the lines of chicken, and can be interchangeable in many of the lower-heat recipes such as this one.  It’s tasty—but I already said that!—and well worth finding.  I have no idea where to buy it neither in Taft, California, nor in Bakersfield but I’m sure someone out there knows where.  Look for it and make the recipe! You won’t be disappointed!   Anyhow—all we ask of you, dear readers, is that you please leave some comments and/or become a follower and why not spend some money and purchase an album by the Byrds and/or buy a cookbook from Amazon.com.  We are allied with them and are pleased to market their merchandise! See you next time around!  Bye!    

Thank you!

V. Vicky Mazarotti

V. “Vicky” Mazarotti
ACF, CWC, CPC, International Association of Culinary Professionals IACP.


This is me as a young chef back in the 1970's when I was working at a hotel in San Francisco. I had the opportunity to work in many different parts of the country and worked my way up the culinary ladder to become a top chef. I am both a Certified Working Chef and a Certified Pastry Chef and am a member of the American Culinary Federation, the world's top authority on everything connected to cooking.

---30---

END Commentary for Tuesday, January 24, 2012 by Chef V. Vicky Mazarotti.



Please note that everyone who writes for the Elemental News of the Day is their own person entitled to their own opinions, attitudes, and insanity so does not necessarily speak for all of us.  Thanks, Stinkbug.

REFERENCES:

This original essay was written by the one-and-only Chef V. Vicky Mazarotti.



Recipe created by Chef V. Vicky Mazarotti on May 10, 1969 in Fresno, CA.

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This is #1353 an 11” x 14" original oil painting by Beverly Carrick entitled, “Red Rock Rider." It's among her more beautiful works and is available for sale. You can see much more of her work at her Website, located at http://www.beverlycarrick.com or at Brian Carrick's Facebook page. At her Website, you will see not only more original oil paintings but also lithographs, giclees, prints, miniatures, photographs, and even her award-winning instructional video entitled, "Painting the Southwest with Beverly Carrick." Beverly has been painting for more than 60 years and is known around the world. Her work hangs in private and public galleries and is followed by a great many fans that circle the globe. We urge you to go to her Website NOW and view her work. It's possible that you will find something you like and will want to buy it for yourself, a friend, a loved one, or a neighbor! You will not be disappointed so please: do yourself a favor and go there IMMEDIATELY! Thank you, the Elemental News of the Day!

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