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My Bizarre Thanksgiving Day Memory

Fried Rabbit, recipe below
My first Thanksgiving at my Cousin Katie’s house up in Syracuse back in the early 1970s was like a scene from one of my favorite foodie shows Bizarre Food on the Travel Channel. I must have been around twelve at the time, but I still remember that in addition to the Thanksgiving regulars at most African American tables—turkey, yams, collards, cornbread stuffing, Mac and cheese etc—Cousin Katie served fried rabbit that year. Most members of my mom’s side of the family—no matter their age would agree that hands down Cousin Katie was perhaps one of the best soul food cooks in the family. But she also had a reputation for cooking road kill like raccoons and rabbits that she saw freshly killed on interstate 81. Yes wild game has a long history with black folk. That's why when you had Thanksgiving at Cousin Katie’s house you never knew what you were eating but she seasoned and cooked it to a soulful perfection. Here is a recipe from my book Hog and Hominy Soul Food From Africa to America http://cup.columbia.edu/book/978-0-231-14638-8/hog-and-hominy/excerpt.

Wild Hare in Tomato Sauce
1 young rabbit, cup of
Flour for dredging
Salt and black pepper to taste
Bacon fat
4 scallions with tops, cut up
2 gloves garlic, crushed
Sprig Fresh parsley
4 tbs. Butter
2 tbs. Worcestershire sauce
2 cups tomato juice
½ cup milk
1 tsp. sweet basil

Roll rabbit pieces in flour seasoned with salt and pepper. Brown in bacon fat. Make a sauce with sliced scallions, crushed garlic, parsley, butter, salt, Worcestershire sauce, tomato juice, milk, and basil, Pour over the rabbit while still hot. Cook 2 hours in a covered pan, remove lid and cook 15 to 20 minutes, reducing the sauce. You can thicken sauce with a little cornmeal mixed in water if it is thin.

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