After four years of feeding that dog, he’s finally returned the favor…

We let him out around 9:30pm for his last potty break, but then became so entranced with Josh Gates hunting down the Yeti in Nepal, that we’d all forgotten about the dog.
Around 10pm, Our ten-year-old jumped after having seen the dog through the french doors, swinging a rather limp hare from his chops.
The five-year-old shrieked, "Calvin killed the Easter Bunny!", lamenting the loss as a very personal one, a death that could cost him Peeps next year.
We all went onto the back deck where the beautiful grey specimen male proudly displayed his gift to our family. He continued to sniff it up one side and down the other, inspecting his kill as if the USDA would arrive at any moment.
My girl dog, a German Shorthaired Pointer, was unimpressed. After all, she’d already killed three groundhogs this spring, one of which weighed in at an astonishing nine pounds. She was jealous of the attention that bunny was getting from me.
She didn’t understand the stark contrast between the three groundhogs she produced vs. that solitary hare. Namely, that fresh rabbit is a delicacy whereas I have no desire to taste groundhog, unless forced.
My husband patted Calvin on the head then asked the kiddos to grab a pair of rubber gloves. He was tired as are most adults of four children at 10pm…and not at all interested in butchering the animal but rather finding a lawn bag to bury it in so Calvin doesn’t attempt to redeliver.
A little background…My husband did a German exchange while a young cadet at West Point. It could be the fact that my husband and his family are thoroughly German already but the exchange went so well that over the years, the families made a point to visit one another. During those trips my husband particularly enjoyed the more rustic German foods such as stewed wood-dwellers.
A profound gastronomic experience was how he described the humble "hasenpfeffer". He still talks about it, twenty-five-years later. So, to entice him enough to clean and butcher the still-warm bunny, I offered to make his favorite Bavarian dish (he happily relented!).
I zeroed in on a recipe after surfing epicurious.com, my go-to site for new ingredient prep ideas. Over the years, epicurious has guided me through acquisitions of venison, bison, pheasant, and chucker, skate wing, rockfish, oysters and cactus pears.
But the fun is often in making the standard recipes my own. So for the hasenpfeffer, instead of bacon I used prosciutto, and in place of the current jam I substituted black raspberry preserves made with love by my dear mudder-in-law. In place of the dried herbs, I tossed in finely minced rosemary, chives, greek oregano, and lemon thyme. But I did keep to the recommended shallots. My preferrable red onions would have been too pungent for the young Argentinian Malbec that would be both acid and braising liquid in which to steep a small handful of black peppercorns.
Rabbit and crispy prosciutto being added back to the wine/shallot/herb/peppercorn reduction (below).
My kids couldn’t wait for dinner despite the fact that the dissection was rather graphic. They went to school the next morning and told their teachers that they’d be eating a critter that the dog brought home. Sounds a little country, but we’re far from sophisticated anyhow. I gave up on that years ago when my husband introduced me to camping, country music, and truck nuts (which I am still not a fan of).
To say the hasenpfeffer was good is a gross underestimation. It was crazy good atop of buttered noodle dumplings and there were no remnants of the poor thing after dinner was over. It was a good lesson in self-sufficiency and so enjoyable that the kids suggested we eat from the yard once a month, which may just become a new tradition in our family…
As long as we avoid the Easter Bunny.
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