Tuesday, September 14, 2010


Aah. Fall is in the air. Can you dig it? We know we can.

Last Sunday we were paging through a back issue of the Beer Advocate magazine and happened upon an article describing some scintillating food recipes perfectly in fitting with the Fall season.

We were intrigued and wanted to try one of the recipes, so we chose Chef Sean Z. Paxton's (www.homebrewchef.com) Hasenpfeffer recipe.

Hasenpfeffer, is a traditional German fricassee or stew made from rabbit or hare (hase) with pepper (you guessed it: pfeffer), usually thickened with the animal's, um, well, we won't go there--suffice to say this ingredient is not in this very appealing recipe.

We pretty much followed the same recipe as Chef Sean's, but were unable to pull a rabbit out of our hats on such short notice, so we used fresh venison tenderloin instead. Substituting venison in the recipe technically makes this dish Hirschpfeffer--hirsch being German for deer.

(Unfortunately, we can't reveal specifically where we obtained fresh venison tenderloin this time of year, but their initials begin with D and K.)

Now, tenderloin is easily the best cut of venison and we're not saying you should use all your tenderloin for this dish: by all means save some for steaks. But with the long cooking time in the Dutch oven, even more ornery cuts should come out fork-tender and work just as well.

A quick trip to the The Beer Stop to score a called-for Dunkelweizen (Würzburger Hofbräu AG's Julius Echter Hefe-Weissbier Dunkel), and we were off and running.

A German Rabbit Fricassee
1/2lbapplewood-smoked bacon, chopped
4-5lbrabbit/hare, cut into 8 pieces
sea salt and black pepper
1/2cupall-purpose flour, placed into a pie plate or dish
1cupshallots, peeled and diced
2tbspthyme leaves
1tbsprosemary leaves, chopped
1tbspsavory leaves
10eachblack peppercorns, cracked
2eachbay leaves, crushed
2eachgarlic cloves, minced
2eachcloves, whole
22ozDunkel Weisse
2cupchicken stock
2tsplemon juice
2tbspItalian leaf parsley, chopped
In a large Dutch oven over medium heat, add bacon. Stir somewhat frequently to help the bacon cook evenly and to help render out the fat. Once the bacon is lightly crisp, but not burnt, remove it from the pot. Leave behind as much grease in the pot as possible.

While the bacon is rendering, cut up the rabbit and season with salt and pepper to coat. Next, dredge each piece of meat in the flour, coating evenly on all sides, and place into the pan with the drippings. Add enough pieces to cover the bottom not letting the pieces touch. Cook for 6-7 minutes on each side to form a nice golden brown crust and set aside on a clean plate. Repeat process until all the meat is cooked. If the bottom of the pan starts to have lots of burnt flour bits, the heat is too high. Clean the pan before continuing with the dish.

Preheat the oven to 300 degrees F. Add the shallots, stirring to coat evenly in the remaining drippings, cooking for 7 minutes to caramelize them. Add the thyme, rosemary, savory, peppercorns, garlic and cloves, stirring to incorporate, and cook for 2 minutes to soften the garlic a touch. Season with salt and pepper. Deglaze the pot with the beer, scraping the bottom of any browned bits. Add the stock, cooked bacon and browned rabbit into the pot, bringing the mixture to a simmer. Cover the Dutch oven with a tight-fitting lid and place in the center of the heated oven. Cook for about 2 hours, depending on how accurate the oven temp is. The rabbit should be fork tender, but not completely falling off the bone. Remove from the oven and place onto a burner, over medium heat. Carefully remove the rabbit pieces to a plate. If there is not very much braising liquid left, add more beer or stock to the pot. Add lemon juice (to add a touch of acidity to the sauce) and sprinkle in the flour and parsley. Using a whisk, stir as the liquid comes to a boil. The sauce will thicken as it cooks for 1-2 minutes, cooking out the starchy taste of the flour. The sauce should be the consistency of gravy. Add more beer/stock if too thick or flour if too thin, to adjust the consistency. Taste and season if needed.

To serve, place a piece of rabbit atop either Hefeweizen Spätzle or mashed potatoes infused with bock. Sauce the meat, garnishing with more chopped parsley and serve with raised red cabbage.

During preparation, we cut the venison into about one inch cubes. You can cut the pieces to your liking though. We served or hirschpfeffer over mashed potatoes, but Spätzle (the Hefeweizen Spätzle recipe is in the article cited above) or other noodles could be used just as well we think. We rounded out the meal by adding steamed, fresh young carrots from D--for eyesight prowess. (Beer drinking is a sport requiring visual acuity as we all well know.) Had we thought ahead, we could have picked up some red cabbage which is in keeping with the season and would have been an excellent vegetable accompaniment.

The end result was a delightful presentation of glistening Hirschpfeffer running down a mountain range of mashed potatoes, with a colorful bunch of young carrots on the side. The rosemary, thyme and clove were subtle and there was just a touch of sweetness from the beer.


Many thanks to Chef Sean for inspiring us to try his recipe and allowing us to reproduce it here. By all means check out his website www.homebrewchef.com for other interesting recipes.

The mentioned article and this recipe were originally published in Volume II Issue IX of the Beer Advocate magazine.

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