Smoked Rabbit Gumbo
The smoking of the rabbit adds an earthy nuance to this gumbo, but to make the dish more rapidly, you can use commercially prepared smoked chicken. Everything up to adding the file powder can be done up to 3 days ahead of time. Do not add the file powder until just prior to serving or the gumbo will be overly thickened.
- Smoked Rabbits
- Juice of 2 limes
- Juice of 2 lemons
- Fresh Orange Juice - 2 cups
- Garlic Cloves - 2, peeled and crushed
- Olive Oil - 1/4 cup
- Mixed chopped fresh herbs - 1/4 cup (parsley, cilantro, rosemary, thyme)
- Rabbits - 4 whole, cleaned
- Rabbit Stock
- Smoked Rabbits - 4 (above; smoked chicken or Cornish hens may be substituted)
- Yellow Onion - 1 large, chopped
- Carrots - 2 medium, coarsely chopped
- Celery Stalks - 3, chopped
- Dry white wine - 1/2 cup
- Brown chicken stock - 10 cups
- Garlic Clove - 1, peeled
- Black peppercorns - 1 tablespoon
- Bay Leaf - 1
- Vegetable Oil - 3 tablespoons
- Yellow Onions - 1-1/2 cups, diced
- Poblano Chili - 1, peeled, seeded, deribbed, and diced
- Serrano Chili - 1, peeled, seeded, deribbed, and diced
- Green Bell Pepper - 1, peeled, seeded, deribbed, and diced
- Red Bell Pepper - 1 large, peeled, seeded, deribbed, and diced
- Garlic - 1-1/2 teaspoons, minced
- Tomatoes - 3, peeled, seeded, and chopped
- Bay Leaf - 1
- Fresh Thyme - 2 tablespoons, minced, or 1 teaspoon dried thyme
- Gumbo File Powder - 2 tablespoons
- Salt to taste
- Cayenne Pepper - 1/2 teaspoon, or to taste
- Smoked Rabbit Stock - 7 cups
- Reserved shredded smoked rabbit meat
- Cooked White Rice - 2 cups (optional)
To smoke the rabbits: Mix the juices, garlic, oil, and herbs together and marinate the whole rabbits, covered, overnight in the refrigerator. Heat a hot smoker or light a covered charcoal grill and add hickory or mesquite wood chips soaked in water. Smoke the rabbits at 200 F for 25 minutes.
To prepare the stock and rabbit meat: Remove the meat from the hindquarters of the rabbit, take the loins off the carcass, and remove all silver skin from the loins. Shred the meat and set half of it aside for the gumbo; freeze the remainder to use at another time. Reserve the forequarters and all bones for the stock.
Preheat the oven to 450 F. Break up all the rabbit bones and brown them, along with the vegetables, for 30 minutes, turning occasionally so they brown evenly. Deglaze the roasting pan with the white wine, then pour the contents into a stockpot. Add the remaining ingredients and bring to a boil over medium heat. Reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer gently for 2 hours, skimming the surface as needed to remove the foam that rises. Strain and refrigerate the stock, discarding the fat layer that hardens on top.
To make the gumbo: Heat the oil in a heavy stockpot over medium heat. Add the onions, chilies, and peppers and saute over medium-high heat, stirring frequently, until soft. Raise the heat to high, add the garlic, tomato, and herbs, and stir constantly for 5 minutes. Add the rabbit stock and bring back to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer 20 minutes, then season with the file, salt, and cayenne. Simmer briefly and add the shredded smoked rabbit.
To serve: Ladle into sturdy bowls and serve with crusty bread. Optionally, white rice may be divided among the bowls, then the gumbo ladled over the rice.