Well, we’ve been in our new neighborhood almost a month now, and we’re experiencing the typical trials and errors of learning a new area, including misadventures in new forms of public transportation, taking wrong turns, and just generally not yet knowing where everything is. One of the first undertakings was locating the grocery stores though.
They are very different from my old ones, and now every time we want/need to grocery shop, we face the decision of closer to home but less quality, or further from home and better quality. I hate to admit it, but closer to home often wins. This store isn’t terrible by any means, it’s just lower quality than the other one. Their produce section isn’t the worst I’ve ever seen, but it can leave things to be desired at times, and it seems like no one is ever working the seafood counter. They do have one glorious section in the butcher section though.
In between the prepared chopped veggies and the ethically challenged chickens, there are a few cases of high quality and off-the-beaten-path meats from companies I love and trust. You’ll find extremely good andouille sausage, duck – sometimes whole and sometimes in parts, rabbits, pork bellies, and lamb pieces. However, I have learned the hard way that this section changes almost daily, and is very unpredictable in what they’ll have stocked on any given day. So if you see something you want, you really can’t trust that it’ll be there the next week, or even the next day.
Which is what prompted me to grab a beautiful whole rabbit simply because they had it, and then figure out what to do with it when I got home. I decided: tacos. They sounded good and I had some corn tortillas about to expire. So why not?
I seasoned the whole rabbit simply with salt, black pepper, and paprika, then roasted it in the oven until cooked through and tender. Shred the meat off the bones (which is a bit more of a particular process than with chicken, but you get the hang of it) and toss in Mexican adobo. Messy and incredible. Enjoy!
Source: adapted from Dos Caminos Tacos by Ivy Stark
1 whole rabbit, 2 ½ – 3 lbs, left whole, inside organs removed and any excess skin trimmed if necessary
4 guajillo chiles, stem, seeds and membranes removed
2 ancho chiles, stem, seeds and membranes removed
3 black peppercorns
3 whole cloves
½ stick cinnamon, preferably Mexican canela
½ tsp cumin seeds
3 cloves garlic, smashed and peeled
3 sprigs of fresh thyme
3 sprigs fresh marjoram or oregano
1 tbs white wine vinegar
8 corn tortillas, warmed
Taco garnishes of your choice (I used guacamole, minced cilantro, and crumbled queso fresco)
Preheat the oven to 325 F.
Sprinkle the rabbit with kosher salt, black pepper and sweet paprika all over. Brush with olive oil. Drizzle more olive oil all over a rimmed baking sheet. Place the rabbit on the baking sheet.
Roast the rabbit for a total cooking time of 1 hour 15 minutes to 1 hour 30 minutes – check with a meat thermometer, it should read 160-165 F when done. Baste with the oil every 20 minutes, and flip the rabbit halfway through.
Remove from the oven and let cool slightly, just until you can handle it. Remove the meat from the bones and tear it into large shreds. Set aside.
While the rabbit is roasting, make the adobo sauce. Place the dried chiles in a dry saucepan and toast over medium-high heat until fragrant, a few minutes. Pour in enough water to cover the chiles, then bring to a rolling boil. Once it is boiling, shut off the heat, cover the pan, and let steep for 20-30 minutes, until the chiles are softened.
Meanwhile, in a dry small skillet, add the peppercorns, cloves, cinnamon stick, and cumin. Toast over medium heat just until fragrant, shaking the pan several times. Place the spices in a spice grinder and grind to a fine powder.
Lift the softened chiles out of the pan and place them in the blender, along with the dried spices, the garlic cloves, and the leaves from the thyme and marjoram sprigs. Add the vinegar, plus salt to taste, and about 1 cup of the chile soaking liquid. Puree until smooth, adding more soaking liquid if it is too thick.
Place the shredded rabbit into a large bowl, then top with the adobo. Stir to combine thoroughly. If it has gotten cold, rewarm over the stove or in a microwave.
To assemble, spoon some adobo rabbit into a warmed tortilla, then garnish with whatever you choose – guacamole, salsa, cilantro, crumbled queso fresco, a squeeze of lime, pickled jalapenos, chopped raw onion…