Rabbit in Mustard SauceIf you ask most people in the US if they would choose to regularly eat rabbit and you will most likely receive a negative answer. It’s hard for many to get past the fluffy cuteness which, though understandable, is unfortunate because rabbit can be very tasty. And, it is a much more sustainable source of protein than the other options out there.

Up until the early 1950s, rabbit was as common for dinner as chicken. Rabbit meat is what got many people through the lean times of the Great Depression. During WWII the government encouraged the raising of rabbits for meat in order to lessen the burden of the red meat shortage. After the war, the rise of big agriculture and government subsidies made raising rabbits for food less appealing fiscally.

Rabbit meat is very high in protein. A three-ounce serving of rabbit contains approximately 28 grams of protein. The same amount of beef or chicken contains 22 grams and 21 grams respectively. Rabbit is a great source of iron as well as being lower in fat and calories than chicken. It is also extremely low in cholesterol.

Another obstacle to the consumption of rabbit is their confusing anatomy—which can make rabbit difficult to eat if you are not familiar with their structure. Typically, a whole rabbit will break down into 8 pieces which consist of the front legs, hind legs, and the loin, or saddle. The saddle is the most tender part of the rabbit. The legs tend to be a bit tougher. Depending on your recipe, you might consider just buying specific parts of the rabbit instead of the whole animal. The saddle will be best for recipes with shorter cooking times. The legs are better for longer cooking times.

Purchasing a whole rabbit and cutting it up yourself is by far and away the cheaper option. Although, if you are trying it for the first time, it might be better to have your butcher do it for you. A tutorial on doing it yourself can be found here on Saveur.

A small rabbit will be enough to serve two people and a larger rabbit can serve three or four. The age of the rabbit can affect its size as well as the correct cooking preparation. A young rabbit is called a fryer and is usually 8 to 12 weeks old. They are very tender and are better prepared in a similar manner to chicken so as not to overcook them. A 15 to 20-week old rabbit is known as a roaster. These rabbits are better suited for slow cooking methods like braising or as the main ingredient in a stew.

In Europe, rabbit is eaten with regularity. And, if you are looking to try it, I would suggest recipes which reflect the great cuisines that can be found there. This recipe for Rabbit in Mustard Sauce is a perfect example.

Rabbit in Mustard Sauce Recipe
Adapted from David Tanis at Chez Panisse
Yields 8 servings Read more…

Deli Meats

Deli MeatsMeats of Mystery
Making the perfect sandwich starts with the perfect filling. We all have our favorites. For some it’s roasted turkey, for others it is ham, and still, others get even more in-depth with things like mortadella or capicola. There a lot of tasty deli meats available to make your new favorite sandwich but most of us tend to go with the tried and true because it’s a known.

Breaking out of your sandwich rut can be a flavorful eye opener. But where to start? Even the old standbys can be confusing…Virginia ham? Boiled ham? Black forest ham? Isn’t ham, well, ham?

To clear things up, we’ve made a list of some of the most common and not so common options for a sandwich and their different variations.

By far the most popular deli meat is turkey. You may see it oven-roasted, smoked, honeyed or buffalo-style (think buffalo-style chicken wings) but it’s all pretty self-explanatory.

You would think ham is ha— but that is not always the case. There is plenty of variety when it comes to ham.

Virginia Ham
A dry-cured ham from the state of Virginia, usually made from peanut-fed hogs, that is smoked over hickory or applewood. Virginia ham can also be called Country Ham.

Black Forest Ham
A dry-cured ham that has been seasoned with garlic, coriander, pepper, and juniper berries that is smoked over burning fir or other pine brush and sawdust. During the smoking process, the inside of the ham acquires a deep red color and the trademark black skin on the outside. A true Black Forest Ham comes from the Black Forest Region in Germany. Though there are many tasty versions available in deli counters everywhere, more often than not they are made domestically.

Roast Beef is the obvious choice for this category but it is not the only popular choice. Read more…

Short Ribs

Beef Short RibsWhen someone says short ribs, the first thing that comes to mind is slow-cooked, tender beef in a rich red wine sauce over mashed potatoes…or at least that’s the first thing that comes to our minds. The truth is, any search for a short rib recipe will result in hundreds of tasty possibilities. What’s interesting about that is while they all call for short ribs, the type of short rib required might be different.

All short ribs are cut from the ribs that extend from the back toward the belly. Depending on where it is cut from, it can be three to five inches thick and contains meat interspersed with a lot of muscle, fat, and tendon, which gives it a lot of strong beefy flavor.

To make sure you are getting what you need for the recipe you are using, here is a list of the different types of short ribs available.

English Style
The English style of short rib has a rectangular shape and are cut parallel to the ribs in between each rib, leaving a thick piece of meat sitting on top of one piece of bone. These ribs can be left as is in one long piece or cut into smaller, approximately 2-inch long pieces. Boneless short ribs can sometimes be found, which means that the meat is cut off the bones of an English-cut short rib.

English Style short ribs are best prepared by braising them low and slow until the meat melts in your mouth.

Flanken style short ribs are the ribs most commonly sold in stores. These short ribs are cut across the rib bones so that each slice contains a few pieces of bone. The cut pieces tend to be an inch and a half to two inches thick and, like the English version, are best suited for low and slow braising.

Korean style short ribs are basically Flanken style short ribs that have been cut very thin, usually about 1/2 inch thick. These ribs can be used Korean style to make Kalbi or in a South American style Asado. Whichever flavor you choose, these thin-cut short ribs are prepared best on the grill.

Though this style of short rib is commonly sold in Asian supermarkets, most people will have to ask their butcher to cut these for them.

Here are two of our favorite recipes for preparing short ribs: Beef Short Ribs Braised in Dark Beer with Bacon and Red Onions and Short Ribs and Red Wine Sauce.   Read more…

Grilling — Wet or Dry?

Grilling — Wet or Dry?In grilling, there are a few ways to go…but the most popular would be a wet marinade or dry rub. Both taste great and they serve two different purposes. Some cuts of meat work better with one or the other. We’re here to help you figure out what works best for your BBQ.

Dry Rubs
Dry rubs are a dry mixture of spices and herbs that you sprinkle or rub on to the meat before grilling. Typically a rub will include salt, pepper, paprika and brown sugar but that combination depends on region and cuisine.

Dry rubs can be used in two ways, either as a seasoning or a cure. When used as a seasoning, the blend is rubbed on right before grilling. If used as a cure, the rub is applied four or more hours ahead of time so it can flavor the meat more intensely. Memphis style ribs are famous for their dry rubs.

Dry rubs are better suited to more tender cuts like beef fillet because too much time in a marinade can make already tender meats mushy.

Marinades are wet seasonings that are used for flavoring foods that tend to dry out when cooking, like chicken breasts. Most marinades are made up of oil, like olive or canola, an acid like lime juice or vinegar and a whole range of aromatics like onions, chilies, spices or herbs.

The time required for marinades depends on the type of meat you are planning to cook. Chicken breasts can take as little as 30 minutes while a larger cut like leg of lamb might require overnight marinating. It is important that you refrigerate any meat that needs to marinate for more than two hours. Keep in mind that pieces of meat left in the marinade too long can lose their firmness.

The purpose of marinades is mostly to flavor meat but they also serve as a means to tenderize less tender cuts of meat like flank steaks or beef sirloin. The tenderizing properties come from the acid that is in the marinade.

One of our all-time favorite marinades is this recipe for Santa Maria Style Tri-Tip Marinade. It is quick to throw together and may become one of your favorites, too.

Santa Maria Style Tri-Tip Marinade Recipe
Read more…

How to Fillet a Fish

How to Fillet a FishUnless you are an avid fisherman and catch it yourself, it is entirely possible that you could go your entire life without ever having to clean or fillet a whole fish.

The reality is that most fish are just too large for the average person to purchase whole and then cut into pieces. If you have ever seen a tuna at the aquarium you know what I mean. They can be HUGE. It is quite possible that you might find yourself with a whole salmon after a day of sport fishing or a trip up the Copper River. But, more often than not, if the recipe calls for a lot of salmon, you will purchase a whole side of salmon that your butcher has already filleted for you—not the entire fish.

There are some fish that are commonly sold whole like snapper and trout. Though you can obviously purchase these same fish already filleted, it can be cheaper and tastier to purchase them whole and cook them that way. But, those who prefer the elegance and ease of a fillet may benefit from learning to fillet the fish themselves while saving a little money. Once you get the hang of it, filleting your own fish will take no time at all.

How to Fillet a Fish
Having a very sharp flexible filleting knife is the key to filleting any fish quickly and without destroying the fish. Once you have that, follow these steps.  Read more…