Saturday, January 22, 2011

Rabbit stifado and a year of imperfection.

2011 is going to be my year of imperfection. In fact, it is the only resolution that I made this year and so far it is going well, I have to tell you.

Today is the perfect case in point. I have the flu. I have no appetite. My taste buds are refusing to register anything of consequence good OR bad. And I am blogging.

Normally, I wouldn't. I like to craft my words, pausing and deliberating. A state that has often lead to lengthly procrastination and then abandonment. But under the mandate of imperfection, I have to write. That's the point.For all you self-confessed perfectionists, you will appreciate the radicalness of my gesture. To embrace imperfection is to expose your mistakes and recognise that waiting for perfection can be a very long waiting game instead.

So rather than wait, at least until this flu subsides, I did what I had planned to do all weekend - cook Rabbit stifado. This is Greek peasant dish, earnest and rustic, that uses either chicken or rabbit. I went for the rabbit supplied by my local butcher at Highgate.

I love Greek food - from the spices used you can trace the histories of discovery, invasion and colonisation. The sweetness of cinnamon meets the smokedness of all spice in the dish, while also using the essentials of Greek life - olive oil and oregano.

Rabbit stifado (as borrowed from Australian Gourmet Traveller)

As you can see this is not a hard dish nor a particularly expensive one. This rabbit would have easily served four.
A rabbit cut into six pieces by your local butcher; 4 tbsps of olive oil; 5 large shallots, left whole; 1 tbsp of tomato paste

150 ml red wine; tbsp red wine vinegar; 2 garlic cloves; 3 fresh bay leaves; 1 cinnamon stick; 4 cloves (which I forgot to put in - as I said I have the flu); 1 tbs of dried oregano (if you can get your hands on the wild greek stuff that would be my preference. The flowers are tigher and the aromatics are wilder and more intense); 1 tbsp of whole allspice berries.

Now to the cooking ... As I suggested earlier, Greek cooking is not hard; well not in my experience of it. There is no particular care required and by that I mean technique. Food was meant to be sustaining in a life that was already hard, so what you see if often cheap ingredients cooked well and made with care.

Begin by marinating the rabbit, preferably overnight. Return to either stir marinate occasionally or use a flat dish.

Using your oil, cook the shallots until softened; remove from the pan and then add your rabbit and brown.

Once browned, return your onions to your cooking pot and add the marinate, tomato paste and enough water to cover the ingredient.

Cook for between 1-1.5 hours or until rabbit is tender. Serve with crusty bread according to GT or cook some polenta like I did to mop up the juices.

Sunday, January 02, 2011

Merry Christmas 2010

With all the hope that Christmas brings, Merry Christmas 2010 from Sloweater.

This is a photograph of the beautiful Christmas decoration that my loving co-conspirator brought for me. It is a piece of silver mistletoe.

12.14 pm and seven hours

It is one of those strange winter days in London. Everything seems dulled after the festivities of Christmas and the New Year. So what's the solution for a day like this - seven hour lamb.

So back from our local supermarket, I am armed with a very small boneless piece of lamb. Not ideal but my thinking is if you cook something for long enough it always tastes good.

Besides I'm in the mood for some nuturing slow cooked goodness. Good food feeds the soul and for me to cook is about love.

So, here are the ingredients - perfect for any larder.

4 anchovy fillets
1 1.8 - 2 kg leg of lamb
3 large cloves of garlic, quartered
Pepper and salt
Olive oil
2 bouquets garnis
1 cup chicken stock
1 cup of dry white wine

Pre-heat your oven to 120 degrees. Dry anchovy fillets on kitchen paper and cut in half. Make six deep incisions into each side of the lamb. Insert a piece of anchovy and a sliver of garlic. Do your normal seasoning with pepper rub in some salt. Seal your lamb and then place in a large french cooking dish in the oven with your stock, wine and bourquet garnis.

That's it. Well it normally is but my piece of lamb is just over a kilogram as there are only two of us and it is also boneless, so I'll check mine around 4.14. I'm let you know.

Anyway, you normally serve with mashed potato. It is a fabulous French dish. The anchovies and garlic combined with the long cooking process turn this dish into butter. Incredible and as I said perfect for the day after new years!

Christmas day 2010 menu

  • Chilled pear-infused vodka served with buckwheat blinis with beetroot-cured and orange-cured salmon.
  • Ruinart champagne with brie and carmelised onion tartlets and slice of Christmas pork pie with cranberries from Borough market
  • Rolled pork loin stuffed with apple, cranberries and fresh walnuts with roast carrots and parnsips and baked apples and beetroot.
  • Yuletide cake

Many many thanks to Al and Luke for such a wonderful and special Christmas Day!