See ya, January. Thanks for coming. Thanks for being so mild, though this has put a tremor of apocalyptic fear into my heart that is nagging and unshakeable. The dogs loved it, though, so thanks for that.
What’s up, February? Last year you carried a record-breaking blizzard in your arms, and then unceremoniously dumped it on all of us here in Chicago. Subjected us to endless variations of “look how deep the snow is” photos on facebook, that I have to admit, never got old. Snow over two feet is always a marvel, a train wreck, the step before the precipice, you cannot look away. Though, to be honest with you, February, I could do without a repeat. I wouldn’t want anyone to accuse you of a lack of originality. You are certainly anything but unoriginal. In the breadth of your weeks I have previously found –
the weight of a thousand lonely nights packed into one contrived holiday, the deepest shivering, bone deep and weary, my worst break, 10 years dissolving around my feet like melting snow, sadness thick as boot soles, drudgery, the saturated trickle of passing time too slowly, crying every day, every day, on the bus, looking out snow-stained windows, foggy with anguish, making everyone shift in their seats, find their newspapers suddenly absorbing, and the terrible burden of not wanting people to feel bad but also not being in control of myself
Don’t jump to conclusions because there has been also –
snow fights in lamplight, high-heeled black leather boots clattering on the pavement with delicious urgency, snowflakes in my hair like confetti, the promise of hot toddies, huddling cozily with strangers under the lights of train platforms, Belly plunging into drifts taller than her, coming out with a snoutful of snow, a look of wonder, then plunging right back in, her happiness so clear it was laughable.
So February is a mixed bag, and this year, I have postponed my NanoWriMo to February (November was rough, people, rough), and so tomorrow I start my third novel (unrevised, sigh) and can’t wait to take that journey.
This means I may not have time to cook/write about cooking as much as I would like, though I will try. This means also that this is a great time to bring you –
Braised Rabbit Chihuahua Quesadillas with Guajillo Tomatillo Salsa
1-2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 medium onion, medium dice
2 small or 1 large celery stalk, medium dice
2 small or 1 large carrot, medium dice
1/4 lb button mushrooms, quartered
1/2 pint grape tomatoes, halved, or 1 tomato, medium dice (but in January, grape tomatoes are the only ones that have any chance of flavor)
1 cup white wine
2 cups chicken stock (rabbit stock would be even better if you happen to have that on hand. Yeah, me either)
salt and pepper to taste
For those of you who follow the blog, or have braised before, standard braising procedure. For those that don’t or need a refresher –
Preheat oven safe high-sided pan with lid to medium-high. Preheat oven to 325. Liberally season rabbit. (I had to cut mine in half to fit). Sear to deep brown on as many sides as you can.
Rabbits are not square, so, yeah, do the best you can. Remove meat to lid of pan, and add vegetables and a heavy pinch o’ salt.
Saute until lightly caramelized. Add wine. Reduce by at least half, or until dry if desired, to intensify wine flavor. Add stock. Bring to boil, reduce to simmer. Add meat back and any juice that have collected in the lid.
Pop lid on pan and put in oven. Cook for 1 1/2 to 2 hours, turning at 45 minutes, until a fork slides in the meat and pulls out without resistance. Remove meat from pan. Rest for 15 minutes. Shred with two forks.
Now at this point, you can just put the rabbit back in the liquid, taste for seasoning, adjust, and have a great rabbit stew.
you can remove bay leaf and then ladle the liquid into a blender or food processor, veggies and all, and pulse until combined. Add liquid back to pan, add rabbit, toss to coat.
1 braised rabbit in liquid
1/2 lb chihuahua cheese
2 scallions sliced thin on a heavy bias
8 corn tortillas (you can make them if you want)
vegetable oil as needed
Heat pan or griddle to medium heat. Lay tortilla down and top with 1/4 of the rabbit meat, 1/4 of the cheese, and 1/8 of the scallions, reserving half of the scallions for garnish.
Top with another tortilla. Add enough veg oil to cover the bottom of a pan, then add the littlest bit more. Carefully lay quesadillas in pan and cook for 2-3 minutes, until crispy and brown. Flip and repeat, adding more oil if needed. Remove to cutting board, allow to cool 1 minute. Cut into quarters and serve with leftover scallions, crema, and guajillo salsa verde (recipe to follow). Try to eat with any reserve whatsoever. Rabbit is slightly less gamy than goat, but more than pork. Just as succulent. Nom, nom, nom.
Guajillo Salsa Verde
4 medium tomatillos
2 cloves garlic
1 medium onion
juice of 1 small lime
2 cloves garlic
2 tablespoons cilantro
Guajillo paste to taste
1 tablespoon crema
salt to taste
Char the tomatillos, onion, and garlic in a dry pan. Cut into large dice and place in a blender with cilantro, guajillo paste, lime juice, crema and salt. Blend until smooth.