We had a share in a meat CSA for six months.
We joined as an experiment – we were leery of committing to something where we couldn’t actually control what meat we received in each monthly shipment. But we wanted to try. The cost was $50/month, for ten pounds per delivery. Five dollars a pound is a lot for some meat, not too much for others, and we figured it would all balance out in the end.
It didn’t. Every delivery had at least two pounds of ground beef or pork, which is tasty, but we can get both (better quality, too) for less money from other suppliers. But we stuck with it because we’d been told that there would be some game meats, and hubby was keen to try them.
(I was less so. I don’t love game meats because, well, they’re gamey. They can be tough. They’re tricky to prepare and the taste is so strong that kids usually just can’t stomach them. I’ve eaten venison, moose, and caribou – caribou is delicious. Not the other ones so much.)
But! if we are really going to get on board with sustainable eating, I can concede that we need to branch out from beef, pork, and chicken. So I was braced for experimentation.
After six month, we only actually received two kinds of meat I’d never used before: a duck and a rabbit. This made me think of this cartoon:
Although that probably has more to do with how I was raised than anything.
Anyway, the duck a l’orange I made was a dismal damn failure. The recipe was fine, and everything seemed to go the way it should, but the meat was very strong-tasting and quite tough. Not to mention it seemed to be a lot of fiddling around for not very much meat, so even if it had tasted good it wouldn’t have been a success, because for the number of hours I was messing with the dark, oily bird I should have had lots of meat left over.
Tonight I took a deep breath and tackled the rabbit.
I asked around and a friend on Facebook recommended I make “hasenpfeffer” or German rabbit stew. (She heard of it via yet another Bugs Bunny cartoon. Oh, Bugs. Is there anything you can’t do?) Anyway, I looked around and settled on this recipe. Red wine! Fresh herbs! Bacon! These are all delicious things.
First thing. I opened the package and ewwww, the rabbit’s dark brown organ meats were all clumped together on top of this curled-up naked-looking fleshy thing. There was that gamey smell, and it looked just a little too much like an actual rabbit for my liking. At this point I had to call my mom and ask what exactly I was supposed to do at this point. “Just think of it as a chicken,” she said, “and chop it up as best you can.”
I enlisted hubby in this task. Lesson one: we need a stronger, sharper knife.
As hubs was chopping (and thumping, and pulling, and yelling) I took a look at some of the finished pieces. And EWWWWWWW one of them had a tiny bit of fur. Like, sometimes when you get a turkey there’s a pinfeather or two? Like that. EXCEPT IT WAS FUR. That was nearly the end right there. My sister had a pet rabbit named Crayola for awhile, and suddenly all I could picture was that rabbit, except that this rabbit was a) bigger; b) raised for eating, not petting and b) not Crayola, who’s been in the Great Rabbit Hutch in the Sky for probably 20 years.
Once the meat was cut up and dredged in flour, it looked less like a rabbit and more like chicken cutlets, or something. I started putting together the rest of the recipe. The smell was fantastic. Did I mention the red wine? And fresh herbs? And bacon? Also the browning rabbit actually smelled just fine. I started feeling cautiously optimistic. Lesson two: all things are better with red wine, herbs, and bacon.
We then had 90 minutes of waiting while it simmered. I decided to make mashed potatoes to serve it with, and throw some carrots into the stew as well. I peeled and chopped and sliced and fretted. The smell was still really good. The kids were getting antsy as dinner was taking too long and I made hubby check to make sure the pizza shop next door was open (it was) – because I was convinced that anything needing that much time to prepare would certainly ending up being not eaten by anyone. Lesson three: cooking for young children seven days a week has given me kitchen-related PTSD.
Finally it was time. And it tasted… SO GOOD YOU GUYS, OMG. Like chicken, but richer. No gamey taste at all. Harry devoured his portion. Ron’s had the stomach flu for the past couple of days so he didn’t eat much, but even he insisted on tasting it and proclaimed that he “loved to eat rabbits and bacon”. It was one of those meals where it’s so rich and good you know that if you keep eating you’ll be sorry when a half hour later it’s just sitting in your stomach, but you can’t stop eating it regardless because the taste of it in your mouth just overrides your common sense. Lesson four: trying something strange and a little scary can work out sometimes.
Would I make it again? I probably would, if someone else agreed to once again chop up the meat for me. Would I ever take the next step and, say, hunt my own rabbit? Nope. Turns out I am a giant, possibly-hypocritical wimp. Hey, I love to eat lobster too, but I hate the act of dunking them into the boiling water. And I’ve never had a lobster as a pet.