Charcutepalooza and I'm finding myself inspired. Inspired to take chances with cooking. It also inspired me to take on my own challenge. Each month I will take a new ingredient - one I'm not familiar with but is readily available at our farmers' market or in our garden (yes, I'm growing things that I've never even tasted before - such as salsify) and create one dish a week with it. They will be completely my own. I will take inspiration from other places - be it online or in cookbooks - but they will not be the same. Some may be spectacular and some might be total flops. But I will post them here. I will take chances and no longer be intimidated by foods I'm not familiar with.
I chose Fennel - by accident really. It had always intimidated me - which makes the challenge that much more interesting. To be honest, I had only eaten Fennel twice and both times it was marinated (great recipe by my friend Leslie that I would love to get from her sometime). While last week's recipe included the bacon I had cured, I wanted something that incorporated more bacon! We also had a fresh rabbit in the fridge waiting to be eaten.
So I set out to combine fennel, bacon and rabbit. In my opinion, the dish was simply ok. Nothing spectacular. Tom, however, practically licked his plate clean. I guess, for me, the problem was the bacon <gasp>. I've never been one to like to eat animal fat. I always trim it off of meat. I only like my bacon cooked until extra crispy. So with this dish, the bacon is not crispy, so I didn't really get to enjoy it as fully as someone that likes to "chew the fat" so to speak. However, if you like your bacon anyway you can get it, then you may actually enjoy this dish, like Tom did. I do have to say that the rabbit came out great and the fennel added a subtle touch of acidity. The bacon fat did help it quite a bit, since it is such a lean meat. We served this recipe with mashed sweet potatoes and sauteed Swiss Chard with garlic.
1 dressed rabbit - 3 to 3 1/2 lbs
1 c flour
1 Tbs Marjoram
1 Tbs Garlic Salt
1 tsp fresh ground black pepper
3 Tbs oil (we used bacon fat)
12 slices of bacon
2 fennel bulbs, thinly sliced
1 Tbs Herbs de Provence
1 c chicken stock
1 c white wine
2. Add oil to a dutch oven over medium heat. Combine the flour, marjoram, garlic salt and pepper. Dredge rabbit pieces in flour mixture and sear in dutch oven, placing done pieces on a paper towel lined plate until all pieces are seared.
3. Place as many pieces of rabbit on the bottom of dutch oven as possible. Cover each piece with 2 slices of bacon and then half the sliced fennel. Repeat with second layer of rabbit.
4. Sprinkle Herbs de Provence over fennel and then pour over chicken broth and wine. Cover and place in oven. Cook for 1 hr 30 min.
5. Let rest for 5 min. then serve.