November 10, 2011

Blackie The Rabbit

This is primarily for Charles Bradt, though anyone who is interested in slaughtering game, raising rabbits, or our trip should check this out. It's not pretty though, and it speaks to one of the key challenges of doing these things on your own farm. You raise the animal and care for it, and then you kill the animal and eat it. Cringing at this has seemed dishonest to us given that we both eat meat, and we've tried to jump right in to these kinds of experiences for that specific reason. Seeing this process in full rounds out the picture. We literally were feeding this rabbit five minutes prior to the first picture. Blackie, we called him. He was big and friendly as rabbits go and he had a beautiful black coat, hence the name. On this fateful Friday morning we were feeding him as we'd grown accustomed to, patting him lovingly all the while, when Marcel abruptly stepped out of the barn telling us to stop, that we would be having roast rabbit on Sunday, that the rabbit should have an empty stomach when slaughtered, and that Blackie was the one. The pictures tell the rest. 

Blackie, this is for you. 

It begins. Blackie was a good rabbit, and a good earthling. His passing was valued greatly and happened about 2 minutes prior to this picture.

Note the early stages look similar to a poodle haircut. Cuts along the legs allow the fur to be peeled down the body of the rabbit.

The entire pelt rolls right off the torso... 

...and catches around the head. Tree-pruning loppers came into play here, thankfully undocumented.

An incision is made into the stomach of now hairless and headless Blackie. Note Christina yawning... two weeks on the farm has hardened her, apparently.

Two days later, ready to be prepped for stew.

First, the back legs are removed at the joint. 

The front legs follow. Interesting that only flaps of skin and tendon attach the front legs,  no major bone sockets.

The strips below the rib cage are removed next, to be diced later.

Marcel locates the lowest rib and cuts down to the backbone on both sides of the rabbit.
Having separated the rib cage by severing the spine, Marcel uses a paring knife to pull "filets" from the  outside of the ribcage. And yes, he's wearing chainmail, though sadly it stops at a glove. Half Michael, half medieval. Awesome.
Strips between the rib bones have been removed. Marcel is now dicing any large boneless sections in preparation for the stew. 
Spaetzle (the 'ae' is actually an umlaut ) being made, a traditional German pasta that served as the side for our Rabbit Feast. 

The Rabbit Feast. From left to right are Ute, Christina, Dave, Sean and Marcel. Didn't realize how much flannel was happening at the time, but whatever, Sean and I are farmers now and we can do that.

A plate at the Rabbit Feast. A leg, some sauteed sweet carrots, and some spaetzle with the delicious, thick gravy made from rabbit pan drippings.  Delicious. Memorable. A night-killer - nothing to do after eating but smile and go to bed.

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