Archive for stock

Cooking the Easter Bunny

Posted in Home cooking and more with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on April 21, 2009 by restaurantouring


A couple years ago, I was driving a friend’s car (she was too tipsy to drive) when I accidentally ran over a rabbit that was running across route 10, in East Hanover.

Damn thing came outta nowhere.

I felt pretty bad about the whole crushing-a-skull-under-the-driver’s-side-wheel thing, and the fact that it was Good Friday only made things worse. It was like I just killed the Easter Bunny.

So, this year, I decided to kill a bunny rabbit on purpose.


After severing the forequarters and cutting off the hindquarters, I trimmed the loin from the ribs and left the belly meat attached. I stuffed the loin with some caramelized onions that had been sauteed with some garlic and fresh sage leaves. I wrapped it all in some duck bacon that my good friend, Jose, bought me, seared it off, and finished it in the oven. It ain’t too pretty, mainly cuz the duck bacon was too thick and not nearly long enough, so the whole package unraveled by the time the food hit the plate. I will probably stick with good ol’ pork bacon next time.

I should note that the rabbit did not come with the liver, kidneys, or heart for some reason. I generally like offal, and I try to make an effort to eat it whenever it is available, if only so that it does not go to waste. For this dish, I was actually counting on some rabbit liver, so I was pretty upset when I discovered that this thing came with no offal whatsoever. Bummer.

While the rabbit finished cooking, I sauteed some potatoes in the rendered duck fat from the bacon, and seared some oyster mushrooms to go along with it. I deglazed with some chardonnay that I had laying around and added some fairly concentrated, gelatinous, deeply caramelized duck stock that I also had lying around. I reduced it to nappe consistency and lightly sauced the loin with that. A la minute.

Voila: dinner.

I hope everyone had a happy Easter!

P.S. I’m a big fan of total utilization. As I write this, the remaining bones and carcass from the rabbit is slowly simmering in a pot of water for stock. I threw in some chicken bones I’ve been saving up for the past couple weeks, too. I just threw the bones into a zip top bag in the freezer and took them out to make a batch of rabbit/chicken stock.

check my Flickr account for higher-quality and larger-sized pictures, especially since WordPress does this annoying thing where the right side of all my pictures gets cropped out of the frame (I’ll figure out how to fix it one of these days, I swear):

to learn more about breaking down bunnies into marketable consumer cuts, search for Michael Pardus, longtime instructor at the Culinary Institute of America, on YouTube. His user name is MPardus, I believe. Or, just click here.

A Cook’s Job is Never Done, Part I

Posted in Culinary ruminations and other random thoughts, Home cooking and more with tags , , , , , , on October 25, 2008 by restaurantouring

A cook’s job is never done.  That, I think, is a fact that most serious cooks need to understand and accept if they really wanna cook in the kitchen.

There’s too much to do.

There’s not enough time.

You gotta eat every day anyway, right?

A cook’s job is just never done.

This week, I worked as usual.  I also cooked a lot.  A friend of mine comes and visits me on Tuesdays, so I spend my Mondays prepping all the food.  This week, it was the beef short ribs I talked about in my “About Me” page.

Shopping.  I found a pack of Flanken-cut short ribs.  Not my favorite cut, but still good.  And cheap.  Two bucks and change per pound, cheaper than a fancy steak, and damn tasty to boot.

So, slice and trim them.  Salt — ALWAYS KOSHER — and pepper.  Heat the cast iron (clad pans work too).  Sear.  Flip.  Repeat on all sides.

Meanwhile, I retrieve the bag of beef bones I’ve been saving in the freezer.  Every time I have a steak or some ribs or oxtail or anything, I save the bones.  Them’s good eatin.  Well, not really. . . not YET anyway, but you’ll see. . . .

Boil a big pot of water.  Rinse bones.  Dump them into the boiling water to blanche for a minute.  Dump.  Refill the pot with cold water.  Bring up to temperature.  Skim that nasty foam.

Too complicated already?  Too bad.  That’s the way you make stock, so pay attention.

Bring the mix up to a boil for a minute and turn the heat down low.  Way low.  I don’t want to see my stock boiling anymore, but I want it piping hot.  Collagen starts to break down and turn into gelatin at around 140 degrees, so I want it anywhere from 140 to 180 degrees if possible.  Gelatinous stock is delicious.  Leave the lid off, since keeping it on will make the liquid boil even with the lowest possible flame.

Some people call this simmering.  I think it’s more like steeping, like tea.  Steep them bones for a few hours.  Then toss in your aromats.  Thyme, parsley, bay leaf, rosemary.  Celery, carrots, onion.  Classic French Mirepoix.  Maybe some garlic.  An hour later, you’re good to go.

Strain it.  Chill it.  Refrigerate.  You’re done for the night.

Well. . . almost.

Gotta clean.  Gotta do the dishes.  Damnit.

The downside to living in this apartment is that there’s no dishwasher.  In a restaurant, you have a dish washer.  After service, you might have a night porter that cleans everything else up for you.

I don’t have a night porter.

I don’t have a dishwasher.

Well, technically, I AM the dish washer.  Ah well.  I clean things better than any machine anyway.  Suck it up.  It’s relaxing and meditative anyway.

Soap. Rinse. Dry dishes. Put them away.

Wipe down the stove top. Wipe down exhaust hood, top AND bottom (that grease gets EVERYWHERE). Wipe down handle of the oven. Wipe down knobs and panel.

Wash the counter.  Spray with disinfectant (cleanliness is next to not-being-sickliness).

Quickly wipe the floors.  That grease gets EVERYWHERE.

Wipe eyeglasses.  That grease gets EVERYWHERE


Wake up.

Shit. Shower. Shave. Brush. Rinse. Get dressed.

Grab my shit: wallet. cell. keys. keys for work. work id. messenger bag. lunch.

Hungry. Eggs. Toast. Maybe some bacon. Maybe I’ll settle for milk and cereal instead.

Bust out the slow cooker. Peel carrots, wash celery, grab an onion.  Chop. Dump em in cold.

Take out the ribs from the fridge.  Dump em in cold.

Pull out a bottle of red.  This time it’s a Barefoot merlot.  I like cooking with cheap wine — the taste is more balanced once the liquid’s reduced.  Fancy wines just taste off-balance.  Drink the fancy, cook the cheap.

Pull out the stock from the fridge.  Remove the hardened fat on top (DON’T YOU DARE THROW IT OUT) and stick it in the fridge or freezer for when you make savory pastries or beef patties (I lived in Jamaica for a year and a half.  I’ve got a soft spot for beef patties).

Add both the stock and the wine to a pot.  About equal portions.  A little more of the stock than wine, maybe.  Boil.

Pour the hot stuff over the ribs and aromats until they are just covered.  Maybe a little more to account for evaporation.  Lid it.

Here’s the kicker: don’t turn the slow cooker on high.  Or low.  Turn it onto “keep warm”.  Remember what I said about collagen?  My slow cooker keeps things warm at 188 degrees.  I tested it.  Thermometers are awesome.

Here’s the downer: wash the dishes you just dirtied.  I don’t like leaving shit in the sink.

Time check: Damnit.  Five minutes late for work again.

Run, don’t walk.  Speed, don’t cruise.  Don’t get caught.  You’ll be great.

Check back for Part 2, folks.