Jacques Pepin has a cooking show on Public Television. He makes some elaborate dishes and presents them in a simple, and easy to understand way. So here’s Jacques Pepin’s Rabbit with Mushrooms.
Start by cutting the rabbit (if your butcher didn’t do it for you). Remove the hind legs, separate and cut in two. Remove both shoulders together with the front legs. Separate the ribcage and cut in two. Remove the flanks and cut the saddle into two or three pieces . Save the liver and kidneys to add toward the end of cooking.
Heat the olive oil in a pan large enough to hold all of the rabbit in one layer. Add the pancetta. When it starts to brown, add the rabbit pieces. Remove the rabbit when it’s browned.
Add the onions and garlic to the pan and cook for a few minutes. Add the mushrooms and sprinkle the flour over everything, stir and cook for a few minutes. Add the wine and water and bring to a boil. Add the bouquet garni and return the rabbit to the pan. Simmer on low for 60 minutes.
Add the liver and kidneys (if you want) and the cream. Cook for 5 minutes.
Place in a serving dish and garnish with chives. Rabbit with mushrooms is good served with noodles or spätzle.
Spezzatino (pronounced spet-tsa-tino) is Italian for stew and in this case it’s veal stew with peas.
Bring veal to room temperature and season with salt and pepper. Lightly brown it in olive oil and remove from the pot. Add more oil, and sauté a chopped onion with S&P until it starts to brown. Add tomato paste and stir with onions until it darkens. Add the potatoes, S&P and fry lightly. Add the rosemary, beef stock and deglaze the pot.
Return the browned meat, stir and simmer uncovered for ½ hour. Check for seasoning. Add the peas and wine and simmer for another ½ hour.
My mother always got her meat balls to a uniform size just using her hands. I cheat, using an ice cream scoop.
If you’re using dried currants instead of raisins, soak them in some warm water for about 15 minutes. Trim the crust from the bread and break it into pieces. Put it in a bowl and add enough milk to soak it.
After the bread absorbs the milk and softens, squeeze it to remove the excess milk. Drain the currants if you’re using them. Put the bread, beef, garlic, egg, parsley, cheese and raisins or currants, pinoles and salt and pepper in a large bowl. Mix it thoroughly with your hands.
Shape the meat balls and fry them in oil a heavy pan. Turn them gently to brown all sides. Remove them from the pan and drain them on paper towels.
You can eat them just like this. We always did when my mother was frying them until she threw us out of the kitchen. More traditionally, serve them with tomato sauce. A simple marinara sauce would be good. I would deglaze the meat ball pan with a little red wine and add it to the sauce. You can either just spoon some of the sauce over the meat balls or simmer them in the sauce for 5 or 10 minutes.
I used to order Pork Chops and Vinegar Peppers every time I went to Patrici’s on Kenmare St. in Manhattan. I got this recipe from my sister Nicki when they closed.
Season pork chops and bring to room temperature. Fry them in a little oil and remove from pan when browned. (If you want, you can also use boneless and cut into bit size pieces). Fry the potatoes, season and remove from pan. Fry the onion and add the peppers.
Put the cooked chops back in the pan and the potatoes, onions and peppers back on top of the chops. Add the red wine vinegar and liquid from the pepper jar. Sprinkle oregano on top. Cover the pan and cook for 5 minutes more.
If you can’t get vinegar peppers locally, they’re available on line.
Pörkölt (pronounced per-kelt) is a stew made with beef, pork, game or even tripe. In its simplest form it would be just onions, paprika and meat. This recipe is more elaborate and calls for beef. Everyone’s grandmother makes it a little bit differently. Pörkölt is similar to goulash but not as soupy.
Heat the lard in a pot over medium-high heat. In batches, so the pot isn’t crowded, brown the oxtails and beef. Remove from the pot.
Add the onions to the pot and cook until lightly browned. Stir in the garlic, Remove pot from the heat, add the paprika and stir. Then return the meat and drippings to the pot. Add the peppers and tomatoes, if using, sauté briefly and add the wine and water,
Raise the heat and bring it to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer, covered, for about 2 hours. Add water if it gets too dry. Check for seasoning and serve with sour cream and spätzle or pasta.
Here’s pörkölt at its most basic – just onions, paprika, meat and water, and still very good.
Not everyone likes tripe and I suppose that’s understandable. Some people just eat the potatoes and dip bread in the sauce and that’s OK. It makes a very tasty sauce.
Maybe it’s something you had to grow up with. I was just a kid the first time I ate it and I didn’t know what it was. I didn’t ask and my mother didn’t tell me. For some people, their mother’s meatloaf is comfort food. For me it’s tripe.
Slowly cook the onion in ¼ cup of oil, salt and pepper, until soft and transparent. Add the tripe (cut it into 1 ½ by ½ inch strips), mix with the onions and let simmer for a few minutes. Add the wine and simmer for a few more minutes. Add the tomatoes and bay leafs, stir and check for seasoning. Cover and simmer for 20 minutes, add the potatoes and simmer for another 20 minutes or until the potatoes are tender. Serves 4 as a main dish.
Note: Buy cleaned beef honeycomb tripe. Rinse it thoroughly in cold water. Place it in a pot and cover with water and add one onion cut into wedges. Boil it slowly for 2 hours. When tender, run it under cold water and cut it into 1 ½ by ½ inch strips.
Heat olive oil in pan and brown one side of steak (or veal or pork chops). While its browning sprinkle top side with S&P, finely chopped garlic and dried oregano. When the underside is brown turn the meat over making sure that there is enough oil so that the garlic doesn’t burn. Immediately cover with a large can of crushed tomatoes and simmer for 20 minutes.
Optional – Add a small can of drained baby peas (or fresh or frozen and cook accordingly) and maybe some chopped parsley (one or the other) in the last 5 minutes.
You can serve this alone, as a main course or use some of that sauce on a side of pasta.
Some restaurants include peppers in this sauce – DON’T! (and no cheese either).
Cacciatore is Italian for “hunter” and alla cacciatora means “hunter-style,” or how my grandmother would pronounce it in her Salernitano dialect, cacciadode. The idea of this recipe is that a hunter could prepare it in one pot on a camp fire in the field. The meat was whatever game that was hunted, mushrooms and rosemary were picked nearby and the other ingredients, wine, garlic ,etc., were easy enough to carry. Alla cacciatora works well with domesticated fowl as well as game birds and rabbit.
The Cacciatore you get in American Italian restaurants is usually done with a heavy tomato sauce. This version is much more basic and simple.
Chicken or Rabbit Alla Cacciatora
Brown seasoned chicken (or rabbit) in oil and remove.
Brown mushrooms (any type available) in the fat and oil in the same pot.
Add garlic, rosemary and tomato. This isn’t a “red” sauce. The tomato is just there for moisture. You can use ½ cup of water instead. Return meat to pot.
Raise heat and add red wine vinegar and cover and steam for 5 minutes.
Add red wine, I use Chianti, and simmer for 15 minutes uncovered.
The rich got the prime cuts of beef and the poor got the organs and the tail. And they figured out ways to make that tail taste good. The tail has bone, marrow, gelatin and collagen – everything you need for a perfect stew. Serve ox tail stew with small pasta or spätzle.
Season ox tails with salt and black pepper and bring it to room temperature. Brown them in a stew pot and remove. Add onion, lightly brown then add garlic. Stir in tomato paste. Add wine, stock and water. Bring it to a boil and return the ox tail. Lower heat, cover and simmer for 2 ½ hours. Add the carrots and cook for another 15 minutes. You can end it here if you like the sauce a little soupy. To make it thicker, mix the flour with a little water and add it and the butter and stir for a few minutes.
A simple recipe that you can make on a charcoal or gas grill or a grill pan on a stove.
Start by soaking bamboo skewers in water for a few hours so they don’t burn when they’re on the grill. Season the sirloin with salt and black pepper, then sprinkle liberally with the paprika. Refrigerate for 3 – 4 hours. Cut the pancetta and pepper into 1 inch squares. Cut the onion into rough slices. Bring all ingredients to room temperature and arrange on skewers alternating meat and vegetables.