Dining

Hasenpfeffer
Braised Peppered Rabbit In Red Wine Sauce

Rabbit. It’s the other white meat. At least that’s what Little Gretel owner and chef Denise Mazal says. I was recently granted full access to Little Gretel’s kitchen and was allowed to shadow Denise as she whipped up a dish of her delicious Hasenpfeffer. What a treat!

Originally from Czechoslovakia, Denise began developing her culinary skills from her mother at a young age while living in Prague. She perfected her cooking techniques in restaurants all over the world, learning in kitchens everywhere from Paris, France and Germany to Boulder, Colorado.

Eventually, Denise and her husband James (Jimmy) Mazal moved to Boerne to raise a family. After her four children were all grown up, Denise and daughter Veronica decided to open Little Gretel three years ago. The restaurant features dishes from Denise’s past, including many unique menu items not found anywhere else in the Hill Country.

I’ve tried a lot of different types of meats in my life -frog, snake and alligator to name a few, but I have never tried rabbit. I was leery, thinking it would be tough and stringy. In the end, Hasenpfeffer is actually tender and succulent. Garnished with red cabbage, dumplings, a fried potato cake and an appetizing sauce, the meal was so good, I had stop myself from licking the plate clean.

If you are adventurous enough to try this dish at home, make sure you have plenty of time for preparation. The rabbit stock alone takes over two-and-a-half hours to prepare. That should not deter you from attempting to concoct the dish, however. The final product is well worth it. If cooking isn’t your thing, but you still want to try Hasenpfeffer, you can always go and enjoy the dish at Little Gretel. You better hurry, though! This is a seasonal dish and it won’t be there for long.

Preparation:
– 1 Rabbit about 3 lb.
– Wash and cut rabbit into 4 serving pieces.
– 2 hinds legs
– 2 front legs – we call rabbit “Wings”
– 1 center back cut into 2 pieces
– The neck bone, the trimmings, the giblets and all remaining pieces to be used for stock

Rabbit Stock: prepare one day ahead
– 4 qt. water
– 1 small onion, carrot, parsnip (100 gr each)
– 1 celery stalk
– 5 stems of curly parsley
– 1 bay leaf
– 25 peppercorns
– 5 allspice corns
Stock:
In a stock pot combine the bones of the rabbit with onion, carrot, celery stalk, parsnip, bay leaf, peppercorns, allspice corns, stems from parsley and 4qt of cold water. Bring to boil and then simmer until reduced to 3 cups. About 2 1/2 hours. Strain the stock through the fine mesh colander. Set aside.

Ingredients:
– 1/4 lb bacon, diced
– 1Tbsp. oil
– Salt
– Freshly ground black pepper
– 1/3 cup all-purpose flour
– 1/2 cup shallots, finely chopped
– 1Tbsp. butter
– 1 tsp. garlic, pressed
– 2 cup red wine – Cabernet
– 2-3 cups rabbit stock
– 2 Tbsp. chicken bouillon Knorr
– 2 Tbsp.currant jelly
– 1 bay leaves
-1-3” stem of fresh rosemary
– 2-3” stem of fresh thyme
– 1 Tbsp. fresh squeezed lemon juice

Directions:
In a large skillet, cook the bacon with oil over medium high heat, stirring frequently until evenly brown. Drain the bacon over a paper towel and save the fat for later. Season rabbit with salt and pepper and dip them in flour. Brown pieces in bacon fat and set them aside. In the remaining fat with butter, sauté shallots with garlic until soft and transparent. Stir in red wine and rabbit stock with bouillon, scraping fond sticking to the bottom of the skillet. Add in bay leaf, rosemary, thyme and currant jelly. Bring to boil. Return rabbit and bacon pieces to skillet. Cover and place into oven for about 1 hour or until rabbit is tender. Remove rabbit and strain the liquid through fine mesh colander. Stir in lemon juice. Adjust the seasoning with salt and pepper. Serve rabbit with the sauce, potato dumplings and red cabbage.

Dobrou chut!
Denise



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