Introduction: Rabbit in Casserole: War Economy in Food
For my college history class, I have been tasked with recreating a recipe from War Economy in Food. This was released to the public in 1917 amid WW1 as encouragement for war efforts on the homeland. The book has a lot of tips and tricks both for cooking without rations and using substitutes at home instead of the products being shipped to soldiers. If you would like to download a copy of the book, you can do so here:
I chose the Rabbit in Casserole recipe to make for my project. The book lists using traditional meat substitutes such as game as a valuable way to assist in the war effort. Rabbits (and other game) were also hunted personally, which means they were not rationed and rations could be utilized for other valuable items.
1/4 cup drippings or other fat (I used bacon grease)
1 cup hot water
1 tablespoon lemon juice
2 cups meat stock or thickened gravy
Step 1: Prepare the Rabbit
"Dress the rabbit and separate into pieces at the joint. Season with paprika and salt."
Getting into the swing of the project, I was able to source a rabbit locally from a hunter (Thanks Greg!). It was not hunting season, but he had a rabbit from the previous season in his freezer.
Step 2: Braise the Rabbit
"Cook in the fat until a golden brown."
I used bacon grease that I had saved in my freezer. Cooking oil should work just as well, but the bacon grease both added an extra layer of flavor as well as felt more authentic. Don't overfuss with the pieces while they're cooking, let them form a nice golden color on each side.
Step 3: Into the Casserole!
"Transfer the meat to a casserole with 1 cup of hot water and cover. Bake in moderate oven about 1/2 hour."
The common consensus for "moderate oven" came out to be 350 degrees (F). This worked fine for me.
Step 4: Add the Rest!
"Then add the stock or gravy, lemon juice, and bay leaf. Continue cooking in the oven about 1 1/2 hour."
For the meat stock, I used chicken broth concentrate packets and reconstituted them with half the recommended amount of water. I also wanted a thicker gravy at the end so I added 2 tablespoons of cornstarch as well. This is optional, but I would definitely recommend it.
Step 5: Potatoes and Plate!
According to the book, potatoes were something you should use "abundantly". With that in mind, I threw together a side of roasted potatoes and garlic to go in the oven with the casserole. The rabbit is tender and flavorful and paired perfectly with potatoes and extra gravy.