22 October 2008

Benito vs. the Inca Empire: Conejo con Verdejo

My friend Grace is a scholar of pre-Columbian history, and since I'd gotten my hands on a box of Inca Red Quinoa (pronounced keen-wah), I thought it would be a fun opportunity to make a meal inspired by the Incas and incorporating as many traditional ingredients as possible.

The research phase was a little discouraging, as I don't have ready access to llama meat or any of the various critters that swim, fly, or crawl through the Andes. Guinea pigs were a delicacy of the Incas that are still enjoyed today, but I had a feeling that stopping by the pet store to pick up a few of them for dinner would get me thrown out of the store or thrown in jail. So as a compromise, I swung by the International Market at Winchester and Kirby to grab a frozen rabbit. After defrosting I cut the lagomorph into quarters and removed the spine, and dunked all of it in a buttermilk marinade for an overnight soak.

The quinoa (hidden in the shadows behind the rabbit) was cooked with chicken stock and canned tomatoes until tender, and the blue potatoes were roasted in bacon grease with garlic until nice and crispy. Quinoa, or at least this variety, has a flavor and texture right at the intersection of couscous, wild rice, and Russian buckwheat kasha. The rabbit was simply rinsed, dusted with a chili pepper blend, and grilled outside over fire.

For the wine I decided on the 2007 Paso a Paso Verdejo from the La Mancha region of Spain (the name means "step by step"). $11, 13% abv. Great pear and floral aromas with a flavor reminiscent of canned fruit cocktail. That's not an insult--it reminds me of how much I liked the combination of grapes, pears, and cherries as a child. It's slightly off-dry with a round mouthfeel.

Purely by accident I got a nice little rhyme for the title of this post. With the Spanish for rabbit and the name of this grape, I've got Conejo con Verdejo. It rolls off the tongue so well it should have been an entry in my favorite foreign language phrasebook, Spanish Lingo for the Savvy Gringo.


fredric koeppel said...

haha, you rhyming fool...... quite a flashy label on that wine.. why not a light red with the rabbit, a Beaujolais-Villages or Dolcetto? I do love rabbit, though I seldom order it in restaurants (the few that ever offer it) because they tend to cook it too dry.

Benito said...

I'm pretty sure that the label is a polished cross section of malachite but it's hard to tell without a sample in hand.

A Dolcetto or Cru Beaujolais would have been great, but I was in the mood for a white. I think a rabbit stew with a darker broth and a light red would be nice once it gets cold.

For anyone else curious about the rabbit, it weighed 1.75 lbs., cost around $5, and did not include the head, heart, kidneys, or liver.

Kristin Runnels said...

How long did you roast the rabbit?

Benito said...


The rabbit was on the grill for maybe 15 minutes, five minutes on each side over flame, and then set off to the side and covered for another five. Pretty much anything that applies to chicken will work for rabbit.

Kristin Runnels said...

awesome, Thanks! :-)