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If you've been a reader for a bit (and if so, first allow me to thank you for your support; second, allow me to suggest that you do something more productive with your time), you may have seen my Tongue post. I'm working on incorporating more varied sources of nutrition into my diet, attempting to practice “nose-to-tail” eating while exploring all the animal world has to offer – including animals most often represented as lovable cartoon characters.
It's a strange thing at first. But the fact is, I suspect that the reason so many folks are obsessed with “plant-based diets” these days is an offshoot of an interesting de-evolution of our concept of “healthy protein.” Yes, there's that misinformed “feed the world on monocrops” argument at play, but I don't believe that's where the plant-based obsession started.
Most of us were, at least at one time, accustomed to eating conveniently-packaged lean cuts of dissassembled grocery protein: factory-farmed chicken breast, turkey burgers, and egg whites. Protein with no corresponding Disney character. I used to scoff at the idea of eating liver, tongue, or anything that wasn't available on top of a salad or at the grocery store (meaning anything the factory farming industry didn't mass-produce, I forgot existed).
I believe this is a result of the animal-fat-phobia that took hold of the USA over 30 years ago and led most of us alive today to outsource our food choices to corporations who “knew better.” We started eating these generally bland things that don't taste much different from less-complete, yet equally bland plant protein. How far removed from factory-farmed chicken breast is the taste of soy or lentils? Not far. It's not a huge leap from Tyson Chicken to Tofurkey.
But the truth is – and I beg you to check out Jennifer McLagan's work – the protein we're meant to eat – fatty cuts, organ meats, turkey drumsticks, wild game – is full of more than just amino acids. It's packaged as nature intended – with highly bio-available iron, pre-formed Vitamin A, Omega-3 fatty acids (NOT the plant-based, poorly converted precursors you find in flax), and cell-building cholesterol. These are things plant protein simply cannot provide.
I've written before about how our personal food paradigms are established from the time we're young (thanks a lot, Disney). It wasn't natural to me to eat Bambi or Thumper. But breaking free of that death-denying group think has been incredibly rewarding. And delicious.
I've intended to try rabbit for some time, but until recently I had no trusted source. When I met some of the US Wellness Meats crew at the 2010 Weston A. Price conference, I knew I'd found my people. I was able to order everything from chicken feet to rabbit, with the assurance that the animals were raised as Nature intended. And I finally got to cook up some Thumper.
To prepare the rabbit, I chose to modify a traditional recipe – Rabbit with Mustard Sauce – to make it dairy-free. After consulting with The Food Lovers, I put together a pretty decent dinner!
1-2 lbs. rabbit parts or loin
1 Can Coconut Milk (I use Native Forest – the cans are BPA-free)
2 bottles dijon mustard: One grainy, one smooth; approximately 7 ounces each
2-3 Tbs. olive oil, butter or ghee
1/2 – 1 cup leek, chopped (use only the non-leafy part)
1 cup chopped carrot
1 cup chopped celery
One “boquet garni” – sprigs of thyme, parsley and a few bay leaves tied together with cheesecloth
Chop the leeks, carrot, and celery, and saute in plenty of butter, olive oil or ghee in a heavy pot or dutch oven over medium heat. Meanwhile, mix the dijon mustards together.
Once the vegetables have softened, add the mustard mixture and the can of coconut milk. Stir. Place the rabbit parts in the pot and nestle into the mixture. Place the bouquet garni on top.
Allow the mixture to simmer, then cover and reduce heat to low. Allow rabbit to cook for about 45 minutes.
Rabbit is incredibly delicious – it's so much more flavorful than any other white meat I've had.
I made one small mistake – trying to reduce the mustard sauce by boiling it after taking the rabbit out. NOT wise. Simply scoop the rabbit from the mixture and top with extra mustard sauce.
We had some rabbit loin left over, so later in the week we coated the loins with leftover mustard sauce and cooked them on the smoker. Heaven!
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