On Easter evening Mr. Henry removed a pink package from the refrigerator shelf and slid the dressed rabbit from its plastic cocoon. Still attached to the inner cavity a plump brown liver quivered like a bird’s wing. On either side grape-sized kidneys lay snuggling. Deep behind the forelegs a little white lozenge of sweetbread obscured a surprisingly tiny heart.
Mr. Henry was about to get his Easter treat. Ignoring insults muttered by certain so-called family members devoid of appreciation for organ meats, Mr. Henry cut up the rabbit and fired up the iron skillet.
On the viscera he sprinkled sea salt, herbs de provence, and a generous few tablespoons of olive oil.
First out of the pan came the sweetbread, a nutty, mild, delicate hors d’oeuvre for one. Second came the liver, still pink inside, milder in flavor than chicken liver. Last came the kidneys and heart, their round shapes more resistant to the skillet’s heat. Admittedly their dark, strong flavor dark may not suit everyone’s taste, but Mr. Henry embraces the dark side.
Served on toast each was different, each sublime, the organs comprising a rich and savory feast grand enough to sate the hungriest chef.
Cooking the rabbit itself proved a more exacting challenge because the leg meat is dark but the saddle is white. Like with chicken, white meat cooks much quicker. When baking the rabbit you must take care to remove the white well before the dark is done. Baked in a sauce at 400 degrees the white meat is done in 30-40 minutes, for example, but dark takes a good hour.
The common solution it to braise, but Mr. Henry likes to find the uncommon solution. David Tanis’ A Platter of Figs has a marinade of crème fraiche, mustard, bacon, and garlic with fresh thyme and sage.
It was good, very good, but memories of dinners in the Piemonte kept coming back. Rabbit braised in wine sauce with mushrooms accompanied by a barolo of twenty years vintage will fulfill your every aspiration in life.
Surely rabbit is the finest meat of all. At $6.99/lb. from Vermont Quality Rabbits, it’s remarkably inexpensive, too.