2.2.11 Rabbit, Run
Happy Chinese New Year! It's the year of the rabbit, which happens to be my year. Those born under this sign are said to be extremely lucky, articulate, talented, ambitious and have excellent taste. We are admired, trusted and tend to be financially fortunate. Though fond of gossip, we are tactful and generally kind. Ahem. Evidently, a rabbit year brings peace after the ferocious and demanding year of the tiger. I've never understood why people referred to "the man in the moon," when it is so clearly a rabbit. The Chinese see the Moon Hare standing near a rock under a cassia tree, holding the Elixir of Immortality in its paws. Check it out next time the moon is full; the ears are unmistakable.
People seem a bit squeamish about eating rabbit, and I must admit it can be rather difficult to see one skinned and lying in the meat case looking an awful lot like your pet cat. Although it's generally considered a “game” meat, which suggests heartier winter dining, rabbit's relatively mild flavor is suitable year round. It's lower in cholesterol than chicken or turkey, and has the highest percentage of protein and the lowest percentage of fat of any meat, making it quite a healthy choice. Rabbit is delicious roasted or braised, and the legs and loin are often cooked separately so the former does not dry out.Although I recently had occasion to eat a delicious and juicy loin of rabbit wrapped in Benton's bacon when I was at Animal in Los Angeles, it's not something that's on my plate too often. Perhaps I'll remedy that come spring. Or maybe I'll just continue to admire the little pair of ginger rabbits that pay regular visits to our back yard, and opt out of eating their relatives. Sentimental rubbish, I'm sure. At any rate, there's always Welsh Rabbit to fall back on.This delightfully comforting dish—sometimes called Welsh rarebit in an attempt to dignify its slightly silly name—is simply a thick and pleasing cheese sauce on toast. Ideal for a cozy Sunday evening by the fire: perfectly peaceful food for a perfectly peaceful year.
WELSH RABBITserves 44 large slices of excellent firm bread3 tablespoons salted butter, softened2 teaspoons flour1/4 cup porter or ale2 tablespoons milk1 cup sharp yellow English Cheddar1/2 teaspoon of Colman's English mustard powder1/2 teaspoon Worcestershire saucefreshly ground black pepper1 large farm egg yolkPreheat broiler.Use 2 tablespoons of butter to spread on one side of the bread slices. Arrange slices, buttered sides up, on a baking sheet and broil until golden brown, 1 to 4 minutes.Melt remaining tablespoon butter in a 1-quart heavy saucepan over low heat, then add flour and cook, whisking constantly, 1 minute. Add beer and milk in a stream, whisking, then whisk in cheese, mustard, Worcestershire sauce, and pepper. Bring to a simmer over moderately low heat, whisking, then simmer, whisking, until smooth, about 2 minutes.Remove from heat and immediately whisk in yolk. Serve cheese sauce on toast.