Big in the sense that there was about twenty countries to choose from. From Malta to Mozambique, with the Maldives, Mayotte and many more in between. Although there was a lot of options, the winner was a mere formality with Malta winning very easily.
I think this was probably down to one person voting over and over again, but I have no proof. So Malta won and because Malta won, my colleague Tim, who was born there, tried the Rabbit and wrote a few words about the Country and Dish.
"Although the Maltese national football team lost 2-0 to England last night, they did the country proud and the same can be said of Shayan's adventure in Maltese cooking via the traditional Rabbit Stew! I've followed Shayan's virtual trip around the world and was delighted when the 'users' of Life of Shayan chose Malta as the country beginning with M whose food he should cook. I'll come clean, I's never had rabbit before and was expecting a brown gamey type meat, but was pleasantly surprised to find that it was white like chicken and fell easily away from the bone. Actually, the whole stew reminded me of Coq au Vin, a great comforting autumn dish, the meat was delicious and Shayan's right to say the potatoes and carrots really added to the dish, making it the prefect autumn stew.
Why was I so delighted that Shayan cooked the Maltese national dish? I was born in Malta and although I've only been back once I still feel a real affinity for the tiny island (population 450,000) and a pride in their achievements. Aside from the Knights of St John, one of the most notable periods of Maltese history came in the second world war when the island was under siege by Axis powers with little to defend it apart from three ancient bi-planes. British forces, with the help of the Maltese people heroically defended Malta throughout the siege and this courage earned Malta the award of the George Cross, the first time to medal was awarded to a nation / organisation, which is still seen on the country's flag today.
So Malta might not have beaten England yesterday, but as Shayan's cooking proves, does boast some world beating cuisine!
Rabbit, believe it or not, is a white meat and I have eaten it before on maybe a handful of occasions. Once quite recently by the lovely Chiara, once in Barcelona and also at Morito on Hackney Road. There is no special name for this Rabbit dish, just Rabbit stew.
- Rabbit - I had a whole one from the butcher cut up into about eight pieces, lots of bones
- Bay Leaves
- Chopped Tomatoes
- Tomato Puree
- Red Wine
- Carrots and Potatoes
- Mustard Mash- you know how to do this
A bit more info on the cooking process.
- The night before, marinade the rabbit with about two glasses of red wine, about 6-8 garlic gloves and some bay leaves.
- Then when ready, brown the rabbit first, on a high heat which is about four minutes on each side. Set aside
- Take out the rabbit and saute about two onions and more bay leaves, when translucent, add garlic and cook for about five more minutes.
- Then add the chopped tomatoes, mash these up a bit and then add the juice of the marinade.
- Now return the rabbit to the pan, add water until all covered.
- STEW for half an hour, then add potatoes and carrots and a squeeze of puree.
- STEW for another half an hour, remove the lid so the sauce thickens.
- DONE- serve alongside some Mashed potatoes (we included wholegrain mustard = LOVERLY) and some crusty bread.
I was very happy with this dish. The rabbit fell off the bone and this was important as rabbit can be very fiddlely.
The carrots and potatoes together add more to the stew and made it great for a autumn evening. The crusty bread and whole grain mustard mash were delightful for mopping up the tomato and wine juices. Well seasoned, hearty and filling; rabbit stew from Malta makes me 100% happy that I started this challenge.
On to Letter number 13 and N. Officially half way through.