01 September 2009

your new favorite Greek word

My knowledge of the Greek language is pretty rudimentary, even though I did have Ancient Greek at school for a few years.

But, there is one word I haven't forgotten since I was a little kid - 'lagos' means 'rabbit'.

Very tasty rabbit at that, for 'lagos' showed up at my parents' place usually in the form of 'lagos stifado', a Greek rabbit stew with almost as much onions in it as there was rabbit.

I vaguely remember the original recipe being somewhat complicated, with ketchup and tomato juice and lots of frying and braising involved. But this here is the 'family version', a user-friendly, stunningly simple recipe that has evolved (or been stripped to the core) over the years in both my mother's kitchen and mine.

Basically, it is just rabbit, onions and canned tomatoes in roughly the same proportions, cooked until all starts falling apart.

But it is so, so very good. Especially good, actually, on home-made pasta, as we had it this weekend. I intentionally overcooked the rabbit a little, ending up with an almost dissolved rabbit and a very thick sauce that went so smoothly with my papardelle it was a joy. It was one the very rare cases that I was entirely satisfied with something I had cooked.

Try it, you'll see, 'lagos' might just become your new favorite Greek word, too.

lagos stifado (greek rabbit stew with onions)
(serves six)

1,5 kg rabbit (with bones, preferrably thighs)
1 tablespoon olive oil
200ml dry red wine

1kg onions
3 cloves garlic, optional
1,5kg canned tomatoes (more or less)
2 tablespoons honey
1 tablespoon salt
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
a generous amount of black pepper (about a teaspoon)
some tabasco or similar
1 tablespoon butter

Clean and pare the meat, if necessary.

Peel and quarter the onions. Peel the garlic.
Don't forget to uncan the tomatoes.

In a large, cast-iron pot, brown the rabbit meat in the olive oil.
This is just for the meat to catch some colour and taste, not to cook.

Deglaze with the wine, then add all the other ingredients except the tabasco and the butter.

Bring to a gentle boil, then put into the oven at approximately 170°C and braise for 1,5 to two hours, depending on how loose you want the meat to be.
I cooked mine for about two hours, as I wanted to use it as sauce on my pasta, and didn't need any extra-large chunks of meat.

Occasionally check if there is still enough liquid in the pot.
Ideally, the sauce should be thick on the verge of dry, but not burned, once the meat is done. Either add a bit of water if too dry or braise with the lid askew if too wet for a while to correct.

Right before serving, take out of the oven and adjust the seasoning. A bit of tabasco works great here. Add the butter for some luxurious taste in a still very lean dish.
Also, a pinch of cinnamon and / or anisseed would be typical and very nice, but as this is the plainest version possible, I usually leave it as it is.

Goes great with pasta or potatoes, but crispy bread will do just as fine. Serve with a salad and more of the wine you used for cooking, or try a glas of pastis or similar, as it goes great with the onions in the sauce.

Keeps great for a few days in the fridge or almost indefinitely in the freezer, though it might look a little worse for the wear once heated up.


Wic said...

It looks mouth-watering.
How I love a good little bunny on my plate.
To bad there’s only me in this family that things so.

Reuben Morningchilde said...

Thanks, Wic! It was this dish actually that convinced my wife that she does eat rabbit after all. Maybe you try it too, and see if it helps to convert your people as well...