Category Archives: From Backyard To Table: Cookery & Culinary Preparations

Preparations and Recipes For The Backyard Harvest

The Yellow Farmhouse Cookbook: By Christopher Kimball

Rabbit Livers Are Da Bomb!

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a victorian painting of a chef surrounded by a variety of wild game in preparation for cooking. eating Rabbit Liver
Let the wild Feast Begin

Betting and odds making is not my forte, but I am willing to wager that even the most adventurous among you have not eaten a rabbit liver.

If I’m wrong, and you have partaken in the livery plate of heaven, then you may wish to stop reading now. You know what I am about to say, and I hate preaching to the choir or boring our readers.

The liver of the common domestic rabbit may be the most delectable liver in all the world. It’s not even exotic or overly pampered, and it can probably be found on a homestead or backyard just down the road. It certainly doesn’t hurt to know that it is really, really good for you too.

I know, it was a great shock to me also. I am generally not so passionate about innards, or “offal”, as it is more affectionately known. The word itself sounds much too much like “awful” to my wordsmith sensibilities, which makes me wonder if that was the intention in the first place. It doesn’t help to know that a common definition is “waste parts, especially of a butchered animal”, or that some synonyms include refuse, garbage, or rubbish”. Sounds so completely appetizing, or not. As a matter of course, I tend to favor the standard cuts and less daring fare, but hey, to each their own. And then I discovered rabbit livers.

To be more accurate, I can thank a friend for that discovery. He was the one that watched as I butchered and processed some rabbits for that night’s dinner. I knew that he liked his rabbit, and I was happy to oblige him and eager to get it in a pan. I had completely overlooked the livers, and he was absolutely not going to let that happen. As it turned out, he cared much more about them than he did about the rest of the rabbit. He rolled them in flour and flash fried them in butter and spices with a happy grin, and I tasted one and smiled too.

I don’t know why I should have been so surprised. I’ve field dressed a lot of game during my years as a hunter and pursuer of large and small game. You could say that I came to livers and other organ meats quite naturally, and I’ve had my share of venison liver, and such. I know that millions love it, but I must admit that I have always been a reluctant eater of such provisions. I was always a hunter first, but a cook, …not so much.

After all, what does one do with a pheasant gizzard, or the kidneys of a caribou. A responsible hunter uses all parts of the animal. But the wet, squishy parts?

I call it the “offal dilemma”, as all roads lead to the undesirables and inevitable actions. I always separated out the parts and pieces, and either passed them out to appreciative friends (or so they said) or made a half-hearted attempt to prepare and eat them. It really wasn’t too bad. That was until the day of rabbit livers, and my opinion of livers, and offal in general, made a hard right turn. I am a reinspired cook, so pass the onions and mustard, please.

Offal is no longer a tough sell. These livers are in a league all their own. They are mild and sweet, satisfying, and easy to prepare. In fact they are hard to ruin, short of setting off a nuclear explosion in your kitchen.

But don’t just take my word for it. Track some down today. Befriend your local rabbit raiser. Impress your friends with your culinary expertise – hell, impress yourself. You won’t regret it even a little bit.

Now that I think about it, I wonder if many more people know about this original delight than I suspected. After all, epicures can be funny that way. Sometimes they don’t let us in on all of their little favorites. They must protect their source, after all. On second thought, maybe it can be our little secret too.

By the way, rabbit livers can also keep you in shape. I’d walk a mile for a rabbit liver, because rabbit livers are Da Bomb!

Da Bomb: the best ~ simply outstanding; no comparison or greater value can be placed to another of similar type of manner”

Michael Patrick McCarty

Food Freedom!

You Might Also Like Rabbits Today Keep The Grocer Away.

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A Face Only a Mother Could Love…A Squab Is

Squabs: Devoted to the Practical Side of Squab Raising (Classic Reprint) (Paperback)


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A young squab pigeon, sitting in a nest box.

 

A squab is an unfledged, immature pigeon.

Once easily found and gathered in the wildlands of times past, they have been a reliable source of animal protein throughout the course of human history. Pigeons were without a doubt the first domesticated poultry, preceding even the chicken, as is more commonly thought. Once domesticated, they became a favorite menu item for every culture and society throughout the world.

Most squab grown for commercial or backyard harvest weigh one pound or less, and present a perfect serving portion for one person. Since squab are harvested at 24-28 days old and hence have never flown, they are extremely tender when properly prepared.

A succulent, dark-meated bird, squab has a full-bodied flavor with an accent of the wild, without being too rich like a duck can sometimes be. Delicate and moist when cooked, it is considered a preeminent ingredient in cuisines as diverse as French, Moroccan, or Cantonese. They offer a taste and texture truly unlike any other bird.

A favorite of homesteaders and homegrown epicures, they can be easily raised and harvested, providing a welcome source of meat throughout the year.

Food Freedom!

Michael Patrick McCarty

You Might Also Like Ode To a Pigeon

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Sometimes Your Backyard is an Ocean

It may be a while before we can get there, but we have some friends who like to spoil us with some of their Whidbey Island fare whenever they visit. Any warm-blooded foodie would be so lucky as to have some friends like these.

Today I met Michael and Carol in the parking lot of a convenience store near our home in western Colorado, as they interrupted their business trip to make sure that we received our periodic fix. We conducted our business from the trunk of their small car at the side of the building, and I have no doubt that we looked like animated drug dealers divvying up their illicit and valuable spoils.

What exactly were we hovering over? Well, I thought you’d never ask. Why, oysters, of course.

And not just any oysters, I might add. These were Michael and Carol’s home-farmed oysters, plucked from the fertile and friendly waters just outside their beachfront property. They are old, outrageously large, and a wonder of the pacific world.

That was not all of the goodies hiding in the trunk either. They also grow two kinds of mussels, and collect a third kind right off the beach. There were local clams too, which I love. Then came some bags of freshly caught Dungeness Crab, plucked from a trap not far from their house. Somebody pinch me!

A transplanted Jersey guy could barely be more thrilled, since seafood like that can be mighty scarce in the high rocky mountains. Let the shellfish feast begin!

It reminds me that there are many kinds of food growing in people’s backyards, even the salty kind. Nature’s bounty is everywhere, ready and willing to be appreciated by the sharp-eyed forager. The rewards are incredibly diverse, and absolutely grand. And sometimes your backyard is an ocean, full of wonderful treats.

I thank Michael and Carol for reminding us of that.

Food and Hospitality

Food is the natural currency of friends and family. Honest food is the cornerstone of good hospitality, and great food makes for even better friends.

Michael Patrick McCarty