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Curious Romantics & Passionate Investigators: Louisiana Culinary Preservationists

New York Public Library

If you sit down with Joey Fonseca to discuss alligator hunting, he'll let you know that governmental regulations make his blood boil. But you'll also quickly learn that his excitement for alligator hunting is contagious. Joey is one of this week's guests whose work preserves culinary traditions.

Another is Dr. Oliver Houck, an environmental professor at Tulane. His frequent visits to the Mississippi River batture have taught him to love that mysterious place and give him a handful of stories to share. We'll also speak with Jim Heimann and Jarred Zeringue — men who have indirectly documented a time and place by preserving restaurant menus and grandma's recipes, respectably.   

Louisiana Rabbit Fricassee (Serves 6)

4 tablespoons oil

6 rabbit hind legs

4 cups chicken stock

2 bay leaves

2 1/2 teaspoons thyme

1 onion, sliced

1 onion, diced

2 carrots, diced

2 celery stalks, diced

1 garlic clove, minced

1/2 teaspoon sage

4 tablespoons flour

Salt and pepper

6 cups of cooked rice

Season the rabbit legs with salt and pepper. Heat 2 tablespoons of the oil in a heavy skillet and brown them on each side. Remove the legs and reserve them.

In the same oil, sauté the sliced onion until tender and translucent. Return the rabbit to the skillet and add enough chicken stock to just cover the legs. Add the bay leaves and 1/2 teaspoon of thyme. Bring it to a boil then cover and reduce the heat to a low simmer. In about 40 minutes, the meat will be tender and falling off the bones.

Remove the legs and let them cool until you can remove the meat. Reserve the meat and discard the bones.  Heat the remaining 2 tablespoons of oil in a heavy, 5 quart Dutch oven. Add the chopped carrots, onions and celery ​sautéing until tender. Add the garlic, thyme and sage. Sprinkle the sautéed veggies with flour and stir together for a couple of minutes till the raw flour taste is gone. Stir in the cooking liquid from the rabbits and their meat. Season with salt and pepper and serve the fricassee over rice.

Poppy is the host and executive producer of the weekly show, Louisiana Eats! Food personality, culinary teacher and author, Poppy Tooker is passionate about food and the people who bring it to the table.