This particular winter in North Dakota has been brutal. In the last month we have had two blizzards, winds up to 50 mph, and wind chills dipping down to the –40s. Today is yet another chilly day which calls for some winter comfort food. This humble rabbit stew couldn’t be easier to make and is pure deliciousness.
By the time January rolls around, the waterfowl migration is long gone, pheasant and deer season has come to an end, but that doesn’t mean the hunt is over yet! We often take walks this time of the year (with a shotgun of course) around our local lake which has lots of small, brambly tree groves and wood piles. My dogs know exactly what they are looking for when we reach those hot spots and there’s a good chance we will come home with one or two rabbits.
Rabbit, the other white meat
I’m not really sure why, but I think rabbits are a little under-appreciated in the kitchen. When slow cooked or braised, rabbit can be just as tender and juicy as any thing else. The flavor is a welcome change from venison and waterfowl. I used cottontails for this rabbit stew, but pheasants or even jackrabbits will also work nicely (Yes, you heard me right, jackrabbits). As with most of my wild game, I always sprinkle the meat with a generous amount of salt and let it rest overnight in the fridge before cooking. This makes a world of difference and will be much more tender and less likely to dry out.
This recipe has a minimal amount of ingredients. I love the pairing of leeks and potatoes, the lemon adds a bright acidity, and the fresh dill added at the end is unexpected but goes really well with the other ingredients. I cooked this on the stove top in a dutch oven at low heat for about 3 hours, which is a great way to warm the house during the winter. I you are short on time or need to leave the house you could easily use a crockpot or pressure cooker.
Enjoy and stay warm out there!
- 4 Cottontails (substitute with 2 jacks or 2 pheasants)
- 3 Leeks
- ½ small yellow onion, diced
- 4 cloves of garlic, minced
- 1½ pounds of potatoes (Russet or Reds), roughly chopped
- 2 Quarts of Chicken Stock
- ½ Lemon, Juiced (Plus extra wedges for serving)
- ½ t. White Pepper
- 2 Bay Leaves
- Handful of fresh Dill or Parsley for serving
- Fat for cooking (Oil, duck fat, etc.)
- De-bone the cottontails and season generously with salt, preferably letting it rest for overnight in the fridge.
- Clean the leeks by cutting off the root end and the green leaves. Slice it lengthwise and rinse any dirt off in between the layers. Slice the leeks again into ¼" half moons.
- Heat a tablespoon of oil a large dutch oven or pot over high heat. Pat the meat very dry and brown it in the dutch oven, working in batches so you don't overcrowd the pan. Remove the rabbit pieces and add the onion and leeks, cooking until softened. Add the garlic and cook an additional minute.
- Return the rabbit to the pot and add the potatoes, stock, lemon juice, white pepper and bay leaves.
- Turn the heat to low and let the stew gently simmer for a few hours or until the meat becomes very tender. If your using jackrabbit this may take a little longer.
- Season the soup to taste with salt and pepper serve with fresh dill.