Durham, N.C. — The comfort of a steaming pot pie takes a southern German twist in this Hasenpfeffer dish from Guglhupf Bakery, Café & Restaurant.
Executive Chef Dave Alworth creates the traditional stew with local, organic rabbit from Joyce Farms, which he marinates overnight in a blend of red wine, allspice, clove, juniper and other aromatics spices. The rabbit is then hand-fried and braised with carrots and Brinkley Farms’ field peas before the savory, classic pastry pie top is added, and it’s finished off in the oven. A seasonal salad – this winter version has shaved watermelon radishes – with greens from Tiny Farm comes on the side.
Restaurant Manager Patrick Hattaway recommends a wine pairing with the Von Winning Deidesheimer Paradiesgarten Riesling Trocken from the Pfalz region in Germany. “I jump at the chance to recommend Riesling,” Patrick says. “We’re still overcoming this idea that Riesling is always sweet, and it’s not. It has really bright acids, and it will separate itself from the food and cleanse your palate and at the same time tie in with the flavors from the dish. Riesling is the way to go with rabbit.”
The meal is one of the small plates being offered on the dinner menu at the restaurant, though it seemed to me to be worthy of an entrée portion. The flaky, buttery crust soaked up the piping hot liquid below it and, when mixed with the more substantial ingredients, made for a perfect bite filled with rich flavors – sure to warm you to the core even on the coldest winter day. While rabbit may not tempt everyone’s palate, give the hare a chance – you’ll find the meat to be a much more mild flavor than you might anticipate.
“It was always fascinating to me in the States, that there’s never much game on the menus,” says Guglhupf Owner Claudia Cooper. “Eating game is a very normal part of the cuisine in Germany. I grew up with it. This dish – I love it. It caters to all my needs.”
Editor’s Note: On April 23, Guglhupf will be part of the Grand Taste Experience at the Durham Armory. Get samples from 20 of the best chefs in the area, including those representing Mateo, Watts Grocery, La Farm Bakery, Gocciolina, Acme, [ONE], Basan, Juju and more. Beverage makers will also be there with beer, soda, coffee and spirits. Tickets are on sale now at the Taste 2015 website. It’s part of the Taste food event series, and a portion of the proceeds will benefit the Durham Branch of the Food Bank of Central & Eastern N.C.