Saturday, February 4, 2012

Hasenpfeffer (Rabbit Stew) Spaetzle and Sautéed Brussel Sprouts Paired with a Disaster

Hasepfeffer Spaetzle Sauteed Brussel Sprouts

If you are planning a dinner party wine pairing, there are a few keys to making the pairing a success:

  1. Prepare a dish you know well or have a recipe from a trusted source.
  2. Choose your wine for the pairing based on you knowledge of the wine and the fundamentals of pairing.
  3. Alternatively, select your pairing wine based on a trusted source (like this blog).
  4. If you are trying a wine you are not familiar with, taste it before you pair – unpleasant surprises at your dinner party means an unwelcome guest.

Last night I prepared a German favorite - hasenpfeffer with spaetzle and garlic sautéed brussel sprouts.  It was wonderful.  Less so, was the wine.  Honestly, the wine was awful.  Over the last few months I have been focusing on locally produced wines.  Principally from Virginia, but also throwing in some Maryland wines. For our hasenpfeffer, I chose a Maryland off dry white with the hoping for a Riesling type flavor profile to stick with the German theme.  To say I was disappointed would be an understatement.

I have a firm policy of not publicly trashing a vineyard or their wines – the guilty will remain unnamed.  The notes from the vineyard include a citrus nose, refreshing, and perfect for pairing with lightly seasoned poultry or fish.  This was not my experience.  The nose was strong and assaulting.  The dominant aroma is akin to pouring a glass of white concord grape juice on steroids.  The flavor precisely echoed the nose.  The wine was cloyingly sweet and unbearable.  I was hoping for a Riesling-like experience but was delivered Welch’s white concord grape juice with 13% alcohol.

Hasepfeffer Spaetzle Sauteed Brussel Sprouts-2

Although the wine was abysmal, the rabbit was fantastic!  The spaetzle and garlic sautéed brussel sprouts worked in perfect German harmony and made for a wonderful meal.  Both Chef Sue and I concluded a light to medium bodied red such as a Pinot Noir, or a medium to full bodied white such as a Chardonnay or Viognier would be a good choice.

If you are planning a dinner party, I recommend you follow the rules of thumb I suggested at the top of the post.  If you are just playing in the kitchen and experimenting with wine pairings, don’t be concerned.  Have fun discovering new wines and different combinations.  However, be prepared for the occasional disappointment.




  • 1 dressed rabbit cut into serving size pieces
  • 1/2 cup flour
  • 1/2 pound diced bacon
  • 5 diced shallots
  • 3 cloves minced garlic
  • 1/4 cup gin
  • 1 1/2 cups Beef stock
  • 1 cup red wine
  • 1/2 lemon sliced into 1/4 inch rounds
  • 1/4 teaspoon dried rosemary
  • 1/8 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1/4 teaspoon allspice
  • 2 whole cloves
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 tablespoon red currant jelly
  • 2 tablespoons softened butter
  • 1/4 cup flour
  • Salt and pepper to taste


  1. Season the rabbit with salt and pepper then toss with flour in a large bowl. Shake off excess flour and set aside.
  2. Add the bacon to a medium-large pot over medium-high heat and sauté to render for 3-4 minutes.
  3. Add the shallots and garlic and sauté until translucent.
  4. Remove the bacon and shallots and reserve for later. Reserve bacon fat in the pot.
  5. Brown the rabbit over medium high heat and set aside.
  6. Reduce heat to medium, add the gin and reduce by 1/2.
  7. Return the rabbit pieces to the pot and add the broth, wine, lemon slices, thyme, rosemary, allspice, cloves, bay leaf, and red currant jelly.
  8. Bring to a boil then reduce heat to low and simmer, covered, for 1 hour or until rabbit is tender.
  9. Mix the softened butter and 1/4 cup flour until smooth to create a roux.
  10. When the rabbit is cooked through and tender, remove it to a serving dish.
  11. Strain the sauce through a fine sieve, discarding the solids.
  12. Stir the reserved bacon and shallots back into the sauce. Add more stock if necessary to make about 2 cups.
  13. Return sauce to a simmer on the stove and whisk a small spoonful of roux into the sauce and return to a simmer. Keep whisking spoonful's of roux into the sauce until depleted.
  14. Adjust seasoning, pour the sauce over the rabbit and serve.


This recipe is presented as “per person”


  • 1 cup flour
  • 1 egg
  • 2 tablespoons water
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt


  1. Mix the dough several minutes until glossy. The dough should be wetter than brownie batter but not as wet as pancake batter.
  2. Bring water to boil in a large pot.  Reduce heat so water is just under a boil.
  3. Place a portion of the batter on a cutting board (a smooth glass board works best) and spread until about 1/8 to 1/4 inch thickness.
  4. Using a pastry knife or other flat edge, scrape off the batter, 1/4 inch or less into the water.
  5. Allow to cook until the spaetzle floats.  Remove, keep warm, and repeat with remainder of batter.
  6. Alternatively, you can take finished spaetzle, brown in a skillet with butter and finish with cheese.

In vino veritas, buen provecho.


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