Sunday, July 1, 2012

Shak Rabbits

Welcome back to The Shak.

So, I have this little brown brick building three-quarters enveloped in lilac and tall grass. The inside walls are soot covered. Up until recently, it, like all the other buildings I have been reclaiming, was a catch all for stuff which had outlived its usefulness. From my point of view, it benefits from its lack of size. Measuring roughly 6’ x 6’ on the inside, it just cannot hold very much; therefore, I have less to clean.

I will say this. There was a theme and logic to what found in that building. Yard/Garden. I had re-commissioned all tools of use by March, when I began cleaning the courtyard. What was left leading 
up to Memorial Day weekend, disappeared. It was burned, recycled, reused, re-purposed, composted or land filled.
Having an empty brick box with a wooden top and door in-and-of-itself is nice. But doing something with it is exciting. Especially when one has a good pile of not-too-dry apple wood, a couple whole fryer rabbits in brine and a few hours on a beautiful Saturday afternoon in May.

You may have guessed what I’m up to here. It is a smokehouse. I will use it as such.

Once cleaned, I put an old car rim on the floor. This will contain the fire. The idea is to have a small smoky fire which over time brings the meat to 160 F. Using apple wood sticks I got the fire going, eventually adding larger, wetter sticks which act to increase smoke at the expense of flames. I find the heat of coals far preferable to the heat of flames in this application.

Before any fires can be lit, the meat needs to be prepared for smoking. Earlier, I mentioned brine. The meat must first be soaked overnight. To make brine is to dissolve salt in water. I use 2 cups of salt to 1 gallon of water. Having soaked the meat in a covered, plastic container in the back hall from noon to noon, I rinsed the meat, patted it dry and seasoned it.
Lemon pepper and Tri Color Sage

Lemon pepper
There is really no limit to seasoning possibilities. I chose to season one with only lemon pepper. To the other I added fresh Tri Color Sage to the lemon pepper. This I secured with a piece of string. I also put a few sprigs inside the rib cage and belly.  With this the meat is ready to go in.
Fire is going.
Rabbits are in.
I learned that placing whole fryers on a rack is probably not the best way to do this. The front legs, being so much smaller than the rear, reach temperature sooner and dry out. I see two good solutions to this problem. I could cut the rabbits or I can wrap them in string and suspend them front legs up from chains and hooks screwed to the rafters. Next time I’ll hang them.

It took about three hours of constant vigilance before they were done. I had to monitor the fire and add wood as necessary. I spent the rest of the time on a lawn chair in the shade of an overgrown apple tree with some of the chickens.

Lemon Pepper with Tri Color Sage
Lemon Pepper
Never having smoked or tasted smoked rabbit, I was happy to find that it had the taste and consistency of ham. It was just in a smaller package. Counting my first experiment a success, I expect even better results next time. With the garden growing, I now have a good selection of fresh and dried herbs. That will be a game-time decision.

If anyone can tell me why some of the words have a white background and/or why these ad-links are showing up in the text, I would appreciate any advice on making both go away. I can find no reason for the white background and if I wanted ad-links in the body of my blog, I would put them there myself.

Thanks for stopping. Come again soon.

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