Monday, October 12, 2009

Rabbit Brabant Style- a Dutch disaster...

Today I had a realisation- when it comes to Dutch cooking, my mother might be right.
She maintains that the majority of Dutch food that she has experienced in her time is grey. Her comments are not to be discounted, after all she has been married to my expat Dutch dad for 30+ years- so she oughtta know right?
What she means is that it seems to end up smothered in a grey-ish sauce comprised mostly of butter and flour and that as a result it tends to look (and in some cases taste) the same.
I've been busily trying to defy her. Claiming that with culinary contributions that include Edam cheese, pickled herring (rollmop) and poffertjes (tiny little fluffy pancakes), there has to be more to this cuisine than meets the eye?

So I spent the weekend on another Dutch cooking mission- armed with a 1970's copy of 'Dutch & Belgian Cooking' from Bay Books Round the world cooking library.

Perhaps the book itself was a bad choice- but it seems to be one of so few Dutch cook books out there written in English.
I have to say that my first dish was less than pleasing to the eye. Sad considering that the ingredients were all good. So far I'm yet to find anything outstanding beyond canapes. *Sigh* I'm including the recipe here more as a documentation rather than as a recipe that I suggest you try. After all, rabbit and prunes sounds like such a good idea... it's so easy to see just how I got sucked in! But in the end, the grey sauce just let me down.

Rabbit Brabant Style:
  • 1 young rabbit- jointed
  • 1 medium onion diced
  • 1 tsp dried thyme leaves
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 cup wine vinegar
  • 1/2 cup water
  • pinch salt
  • black pepper (freshly cracked) to taste
  • 1/2 cup flour
  • 2 tblspn butter
  • 250 grams prunes (soaked overnight in water)
  • 1 tblspn brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup beer
  • 2 tblspn flour
Place the rabbit pieces in a shallow dish. Combine the onion, thyme, bay, vinegar and water and pour over the rabbit. Cover the pan tightly with foil or plastic and marinate over night in the fridge.
Remove rabbit from the marinade and dry thoroughly, strain and reserve marinade. Season flour with salt and pepper and coat the rabbit evenly.
Heat the butter in a large frypan with a fitted lid. Brown the rabbit on all sides over high heat until golden. Add the strained marinade mixture to the pan. Lower the heat, cover the pan and simmer for 30mins. Then add the drained prunes, sprinkle over brown sugar and simmer for a further 15mins.
Combine the beer and flour, mixing until smooth. Remove rabbit from the pan to a warmed serving dish, add the beer mixture to the sauce stirring continuously until the sauce has thickened.
Distribute the prunes around the rabbit and then pour the source over to serve.

It's at this point that I wonder why I poured the sauce over at all. Maybe it would have been better reserved for adding at the table to each individual plate. The dish looked okay until I poured it on. But the sauce just looked like a lovely beige clag... yum.

Patience and I stared at the final dish. He even dared to taste it and concluded that it didn't taste too bad... maybe a touch vinegary.
But the fact remained that the finished product was such a congealed mess on the plate that I simply had to call my mother (with tears of laughter streaming down my cheeks) to describe what was in front of me: "Maybe you were right." *Gasp-giggle-gasp* "... it looks like the dog threw-up all over my perfectly good rabbit and prunes!" *squeals of laughter* - my mother paused for breath; "well at least it's more beige than grey darling... well done!"

Note: not such a great Dutch dish... ahhh well, the search continues- onto the next one! And as Patience pointed out, it all comes down to that sauce, but it could have something to do with the era the cookbook is from.

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