Chef Walter’s Flavors + Knowledge: Tuscan Rabbit Stew
Wednesday, October 04, 2017
Master Chef Walter Potenza, GoLocalWorcester Food Expert
Before you get all weak in the knees and start humming a Disney tune, let’s examine the facts about eating rabbit meat. Rabbit meat is tender, lean, delicious and as versatile as chicken, to which it can also be compared in taste.
When rabbit meat is on the menu, expect controversy to follow. It is socially acceptable to use farm animals, such as cows and chickens, as food; however, many people balk at the idea of eating rabbit, according to a July 2008 "Washington Post" article. Despite this resistance to consuming rabbits, this lean meat serves as a healthful and nutritious alternative to beef and pork. But let’s begin with some positives:
Rabbit is the highest protein% of all meats. Rabbit has only 795 calories per pound. As compared to Chicken 810, Veal 840, Turkey 1190, Lamb 1420, Beef 1440, Pork 2050.) Cholesterol level in rabbit meat is much lower than chicken, turkey, beef, pork. If you are not convinced by these stats, you can always use chicken and lamb in this recipe following same steps.
1-3 pounds fresh rabbit, cut into 8 pieces
Salt and black pepper to taste
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
4 cloves garlic, smashed
2 tablespoons fresh rosemary, plus extra for garnish
½ cup white wine vinegar
½ cup dry white wine
¾ cup beef broth, reduced sodium
1 teaspoon butter
1 teaspoon all-purpose flour
Pat rabbit dry and season with salt and pepper. In a large skillet or Dutch oven, heat oil over medium heat. Add garlic and cook until golden, about 1 minute. Add rabbit and rosemary and cook, turning, until rabbit is browned on all sides, about 6 minutes. Increase heat to high, add vinegar and cook, scraping up any browned bits, until vinegar is almost evaporated, 5 to 10 minutes.
Reduce heat to low, add wine and cook, uncovered until wine is slightly reduced, about 5 minutes. Stir in beef broth; cover and simmer, turning rabbit once or twice, until tender, 25 to 30 minutes. Add some water if you see that is getting too dry. Transfer rabbit to a warm platter and tent with foil to keep warm while you prepare the sauce. In a small bowl, mash butter and flour into a paste. Add to pan and simmer, mashing garlic into the sauce, until lightly thickened, about 2 minutes. Spoon the sauce over cooked rabbit. Garnish with rosemary sprigs and serve hot.
Rabbits have likely been hunted and eaten since before recorded history, though we do know that around 1000 BC the Phoenicians reached Spain and started to domesticate the wild rabbits they found there. These Old World rabbits were native to North Africa and Spain, but human exploration spread them around the globe. Now rabbits exist on nearly every continent --though they haven’t invaded Antarctica yet. Eating rabbit is quite common in the Mediterranean, especially in Italy and France, who are responsible for the highest production and consumption of rabbit in Europe. Typical menus in Italy feature rabbit in cacciatore, ragu and lasagna. Because rabbit meat can also be very dry, it is often found in stews or recipes that involved simmering or braising in an aromatic broth. The mildness of the meat is often accented with the bold flavors of fennel, mustard, olives, anchovies or tomatoes. In France, rabbit is classically served with mustard, either Dijon or a coarse, grainy style. In the United States, this is the dish most likely to appear on the menus of French restaurants in the early days of their influence. Today, there is a rabbit renaissance going on. Chefs who have been influenced by the nose-to-tail philosophy, and who are interested in issues of sustainability are discovering that rabbit is right in so many ways. If we eat pigs and chickens, there seems to be no logical reason to recoil at the thought of rabbit on the menu.
Master Chef Walter Potenza is the owner of Potenza Ristorante in Cranston, Chef Walters Cooking School and Chef Walters Fine Foods. His fields of expertise include Italian Regional Cooking, Historical Cooking from the Roman Empire to the Unification of Italy, Sephardic Jewish Italian Cooking, Terracotta Cooking, Diabetes and Celiac. Recipient of National and International accolades, awarded by the Italian Government as Ambassador of Italian Gastronomy in the World. Currently on ABC6 with Cooking Show “Eat Well." Check out the Chef's website and blog
Address: 141 Highland Street
WooBerry is locally owned and is the home to 19 delicious flavors of frozen yogurt. This place is the epitome of everything that is right in this world - delicious and low in calories.
WooBerry is one of the few actual places on this list where you can't go wrong with anything you get. Don't forget about the literally millions of toppings to choose from (not literally).
Ravioli Roma Burger
Where: Brew City
Address: 104 Shrewsbury Street
One of many Shrewsbury Street restuarants on this list, Brew City is known for its great burgers. In our opinion, there's none better than the Ravioli Roma.
The Raviola Roma is a black angus burger with a giant five-cheese filled fried ravioli topped with marinara sauce and provolone cheese.
In a nutshell, it's a lot of great cheese.
Photo Credit: Thao L. - Yelp
Roast Beef Sandwich
Where: New England Roast Beef
Address: 33 Park Avenue, Worcester
The best roast beef sandwich in Worcester is, of course, found at New England Roast Beef (It should be though, right?).
The "Super Beef" comes loaded with roast beef and on an onion roll.
The beer battered fries and onion rings are nice addition to the sandwich.
Where: Smokestack Urban BBQ
Address: 139 Green Street
When Smokestack opened up, the fried pickles were like an exotic fruit in this city. And let's be honest, that really hasn't changed.
If you think of fried pickles, you think think of Smokestack. And we always think of fried pickles.
Salty and delicious with a special sauce (We tried to make our own at home, it wasn't the same), fried pickles are an absolute must.
Where: Dragon Dynasty
Address: 104 Highland Street
Like WooBerry (also on Highland Street, weird) we suggest everything on the Dragon Dynasty menu.
Unless you're allergic to something on the menu, you can't go wrong.
Recommendations: Szechuan Chicken, and Kung Pao Shrimp.
Do your family a favor, pick-up some Chinese food at Dragon Dynasty tonight and let's go crazy and grab some Fro-Yo down the street at WooBerry.
GoLocalWorcester = Your Saturday Night solved.
Image: Amber S. - Yelp
Where: Boston Donuts
Address: 338 Park Avenue
If this were a list of the 25 best things to drink in Worcester before you die, Boston Donuts coffee would be at the top of the list.
But we're talking donuts here. With 40 flavors of donuts made fresh daily, Boston Donuts is above and beyond the best place to get your donut fix in the Woo.
Recommendations: Jelly Sticks, Reese's
Where: The Sole Proprieter
Address: 118 Highland Street
Nothing like following up donuts with some fresh lobster. But that's what we're doing.
The freshest seafood in arguably the best restuarant in the city, the Sole's lobster is the best lobster you can find in Worcester County. Maybe even in the whole state of Massachusetts.
Splurge for the New England Lobster Bake. You can't go wrong.
Where: Wholly Cannoli
Address: 490 Grafton Street
Sticking lobster in between two desserts is crazy.
A cannoli from Wholly Cannoli = the event of the year...for your mouth.
With 44 cannoli flavors, how can you go wrong?
Address: 49 Suffolk Street
Vincent's Meatball Sandwich is the stuff of legend. It's just about the only thing Vincent's serves, but when you try one, you won't want anything else.
There's no website, but here are the hours in case you have a hankering.
Monday-Saturday 11:30 a.m.- 2 a.m., Sunday 1:00 p.m. - 2 a.m.
Where: Regatta Deli
Address: 28 Lake Avenue
This sandwich is absolutely loaded with meat on delicous Italian bread.
It's enormous and it's only $5.00.
Genoa Salami, Imported Ham, Provolone Cheese, lettuce, tomato, onion and Regatta's dressing on their famous half loaf Italian bread.
A member of GoLocal's 10 Things You Must Do in Worcester Before You Die, we wrote, "A Worcester classic. If you plan on catching the Regatta Races this summer on Lake Quinsigamond, plan on working up an appetite. Lucky for you, right across the street is the Regatta Deli where they serve their famous Regatta Italian grinders."
Where: Baba Sushi
Address: 309 Park Ave, Worcester
The highly acclaimed Baba Restaurant & Sushi Bar has been winning awards for over seven years.
And rightfully so.
Ask anyone in Worcester where you can find the best sushi, and again and again, the answer is always "Baba."
If great Sushi isn’t enough to bring you in for a taste, perhaps you’ll be interested in the weekly Sushi making classes Baba offers every Sunday.
Where: Parkway Diner
Address: 148 Shrewsbury Street
Parkway's meatballs are what make their sandwiches and entrees perfect. They're homemade and it has been the same recipe for many years now.
The best part? You can get a meatball sandwich for breakfast if you want. Or a meatball omelette.
Where: Sweet Restaurant & Bar
Address: 72 Shrewsbury Street
It's everyone's (our) dream come true - a bar filled with cupcakes and desserts.
Everything at Sweet is made from scratch, including it's famous award-winning cupcakes.
Indulge yourself - it is well worth the trip.
Where: The Banner
Address: 112 Green Street
There isn't a bigger serving of nachos in the whole city. The Banner calls these nachos "a mountain" topped with cheese, jalapenos, olives and onions. And they aren't kidding.
Where: The Wonder Bar
Address: 121 Shrewsbury Street
One of GoLocalWorcester's 15 to Watch in 2015, the Wonder Bar re-opened this summer under new ownership and successfully fulfilled the promise that they would keep the same pizza recipe.
The Prizio family now runs the 85-year-old Worcester staple and continue to serve the best pizza in a city filled with great pizza.
Where: Coney Island
Address: 158 Southbridge Street, Worcester
One of the most obvious selections for this list, there's no better way truly experience Worcester than to have your hot dogs smothered in yellow mustard, chili sauce and chopped onions.
New York Sirloin
Where: 111 Chop House
Address: 111 Shrewsbury Street
The 111's famouse Prime New York sirloin is comes in 8 oz, 14 oz and 20 oz (that's the big boy).
You won't find a better piece of meat in the city. Like the Sole (same owners) with seafood, the Chop House rivals any steak house in the state.
Image: Kevin S. - Yelp
Where: Ho Toy Luau Restaurant
Address: 401 Park Avenue
This place may not look like an exceptional restuarant from the outside because it's a throwback to a better time (probably the 1970s).
They have the single greatest egg roll in the entire city.
As one of our writers put it, "It's unique. It's golden crusted. It's delicious."
The Ivory Tusk
Where: Flying Rhino
Address: 278 Shrewsbury Street
Served on toasted Italian bread, the Ivory Tusk is Flying Rhino's most famous sandwich. It's chicken cheese steak loaded with caramelized onions and American cheese.
Be ready to bring an appetite because the Tusk is filling...in a good way.
Where: Mezcal Cantina
Address: 30 Major Taylor Blvd
Mezcal's fresh guac is made to order and this stuff could put on a fake mustache and pose as a full meal. We recommend getting the flight - three different styles of guac with endless chips.
- HOUSE avocado, onion, tomato, lime, cilantro, jalapeño
- CRUNCHY toasted pepitas, smoked almonds, diced jicama, fried corn nuts
- MEDITERRANEAN sun-dried tomato, kalamata olive, feta, fresh herb, garlic olive oil
- THAI ROOSTER dried pineapple, toasted coconut, black beans, fiery Sriracha sauce
- TROPICAL papaya, mango, roasted cashews
- BREAKFAST BURNER bacon, hard cooked egg, bleu cheese, red hot sauce
- BUFFALO CHICKEN grilled chicken, hot sauce, blue cheese, celery and carrot
Where: Sol of Mexico
Address: 538 Pleasant Street
Worcester Fire Fighter John Tangney calls this place "The best kept secret in Worcester."
Great, now everyone knows about it.
Sol of Mexico may seem small on the outside, but once you get in you'll be thoroughly impressed by its extensive menu of authentic Mexican cuisine. It includes many chicken, seafood, beef and veggie plates with all the trimmings and all the styles one should expect. Also try their special Mexican Hot Chocolate and Churros special during the winter months as well as fruit smoothies.
Spinach Artichoke Dip
Where: Funky Murphy's
Address: 305 Shrewsbury Street
There's plenty of great spinach and artichoke dips in this city (see: The Boynton), but Funky's does something that very few places do - warm pita bread chips.
The dip is fresh and homemade and we are guaranteeing you will like it (not responsible if you don't).
Lobster Corn Chowder
Where: Bushel N Peck
Address: 643 Chandler Street
The fall is coming, and that means the cool weather, too. However, you can still warm up and enjoy some lobster in the coming months.
"Our original recipe Lobster Corn Chowder has won the competition for best chowder in Blackstone Valley two years running. We serve it at all three of our locations every Friday."- Michael Ashley, Chef/Manager
Where: Gibby's Dairy Farm
Address: 50 Sunderland Road
There's no better place in Central Massachusetts to get your ice cream fix than Gibby's in Worcester.
With more than 60 flavors of ice cream, you can't go wrong.
Indulge in several more scoops of the areas best ice cream before summer comes to a close.
Image: Thao L./Yelp
French Onion Soup
Where: O'Connor's Restaurant
Address: 1160 West Boylston Street
There's plenty to like at O'Connor's and we could've easily put Potato Pizza on this list. However, O'Connor's does something better than everyone else - French Onion Soup.
Much like with the Lobster chowder above, O'Connor's French Onion soup will be a sure-fire hit this fall.
And it's loaded with cheese on top. Which, of course, we love.