Hey, you got rabbit in my chocolate!

So, rabbit: It’s a pain in the ass. A lot of hassle for not much meat, and because it’s so lean it’s very easy to dry out.

However… I really wanted to try the “Hasenpfeffer” recipe from Mark Bittman’s The Best Recipes in the World. I’d made it once before, substituting chicken for the main ingredient, and liked it, and so I thought I’d see what the full-strength bunny version is like.

Don’t worry, kids, it’s only BAD rabbits who get eaten.

You start by cutting up the rabbit out of sight of impressionable children and marinating the pieces overnight in a mix of red wine, parsley, and aromatic vegetables:

“General Woundwort’s body was never found…”

On cooking day, you cut up four slices of bacon and heat them in a big pot until you’ve rendered most of their fat. Remove and reserve the bacon bits, then toss in 2 cups chopped onion (I used red onions), 1 cup each of diced carrots and celery, and half a pound of chopped button mushrooms. Cook, stirring, until soft, then remove and reserve.

While the vegetables are cooking, pull the rabbit pieces from the marinade and pat them dry. Strain the marinade and reserve. Dredge the rabbit pieces in flour and brown in the cooking pot, seasoning with salt and pepper (for the browning, I added a little oil to supplement the residual bacon fat). Then add the bacon bits, vegetables, and marinade, stirring lightly. The final ingredient is a finely chopped ounce—one baking square—of unsweetened chocolate.

Simmer, covered, for about an hour, taste and adjust seasonings, then serve over egg noodles:

The finished dish is delicious. The chocolate adds a richness to the wine sauce. Plus, you know, bacon! As for the rabbit, it turns out nicely—not too dry—but I have to say, for me it’s the least essential part of the dish. Skinless chicken thighs, either on the bone or cut up into bite-size pieces, would work just as well.

My final verdict: Try it with chicken.

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