(a.k.a. Rabbit Sausage with Vinegar)
I love cookbooks. I love recipes. I have more cookbooks and recipes than I could realistically ever use in my lifetime, and still one of my favorite places in the world is the cookbook section at Borders. It’s fascinating to see what ingredients different chefs combine to create unique dishes, and it blows me away to think of all the trial and error involved in creating a new recipe.
So, when I “tweak” a recipe based on what is at hand or what I have time for, I feel a bit of guilt that I’m not doing proper homage to the process, but sometimes it’s about getting food on the table with a minimum of fuss and mess. And occasionally it works out really well! Sometimes not so much. But we just don’t talk about those.
Mario Batali is an award winning chef, owner of multiple restaurants in NYC, L.A. and Vegas. So to even think of “tweaking” one of his recipes is pure hubris, but good rabbit recipes are hard to come by, especially ones that revolve around sausage. So we had to give it a try.
Here is the recipe as Mario wrote it:
Now, the average person’s eyes probably glazed over at deboning the rabbit legs, let alone grinding and mixing your own sausage, and for sure rolled up in your head at the mention of sheep sausage casings. Great for Mario, who has a staff, not so great for the average home cook who not only has to get the kids home from soccer practice, make sure they have clean undies, clean up after the dog, and any one of 6000 other tasks staring us in the face at the end of the day.
So we used our fabulous Rare Hare Barn bratwurst sausage instead. (What, you weren’t expecting a plug for a Rare Hare product? ;o) Already made, no deboning or sheep parts involved.
We used red onions, because that was what I had. And only used one half of a large red onion. I also used 2 tbsp dry white cooking wine, and 2 tbsp red wine vinegar, rather than the larger quantities. The recipe calls for balsamic vinegar, which I was out of, and since according to my handy dandy food encyclopedia balsamic is a wine vinegar, it wasn’t too much of a stretch to try the red wine vinegar.
Also, rather than open a whole can of tomato paste for one tablespoon, I used a tablespoon of the ketchup I canned this summer from the garden. We cooked the onions according to Chef Batali’s recipe and then added the bacon and brats, which had been cut up into small pieces, and then sautéed everything together for a minute or so.
It was actually quite good. (I’m sure it would have been 100% better cooked by Chef Batali at his restaurant but he didn’t return my calls. Can’t imagine why!) It was fairly fast, too.
Thoughts for the next round:
The pancetta was likely included to add a little fat and a little seasoning to his rabbit sausage. Just throwing the crisped bacon in with the onions was a little random, but hey, now we have leftover bacon for breakfast tomorrow. Personally, I’d leave that step out. Using the homemade ketchup gave it an interesting flavor which I found tasty, but probably would have gotten me laughed off of Top Chef. It helped make a nice sauce for the onions and next time I’ll add some mushrooms, use white onions and the real balsamic vinegar.
So, basically the only thing I retained intact from Chef Batali’s recipe was using rabbit sausage. I doubt he’ll be too worried about my version replacing his anytime soon.
(This post was originally scheduled to appear on Friday. My appologies for the delay.)