Venezuelan Style Rabbit and Coconut Stew
This recipe, called conejo en coco, is a Venezuelan classic and comes from a native-born woman, Teresa Gallardo. She uses chile pepper, which I leave out of this recipe. The preparation of the stew involves pureeing the coconut meat in a blender until smooth, then blending tomatoes, onion, and garlic until they too are smooth. The two are combined and cooked a bit before the rabbit is stewed in this sauce. Contrary to the sound of the dish, it actually is not too. “coconutty.” When buying a coconut, shake it to make sure it’s full of milk. The stew is delectable with steamed rice, some fried plantains, and lightly dressed salad greens.
Total Timeunder 4 hours
OccasionCasual Dinner Party, Family Get-together
Recipe Coursemain course
Dietary Considerationegg-free, gluten-free, peanut free, soy free
Equipmentblender, food mill
Taste and Texturecreamy, meaty, savory
- 1 coconut
- 6 tablespoons (¾ stick) unsalted butter
- 1 pound ripe tomatoes, peeled, seeded, and chopped
- 6 garlic cloves, peeled
- 1 small onion, chopped
- 1 teaspoon salt
- ½ teaspoon freshly ground white pepper
- One 3 pound rabbit, cut into 8 pieces
Preheat the oven to 400°F. Find the “eye” of the coconut, the opposite end from the tapered one. Place a screwdriver over it and hammer it through to make a hole. Drain the milk from the coconut and set aside. You should have about ½ cup, or a little less. Place the coconut in a roasting pan and bake for 15 minutes. Remove and tap the shell with a hammer. It should break easily and the flesh should separate from the shell. Scrape or peel off the brown skin with a vegetable peeler. Cut the coconut flesh into 1-inch pieces and place in a blender with the coconut milk and as much water as necessary to get the blender blade to twirl. Blend at high speed for 1 minute. Transfer the coconut to a food mill.
In an enameled cast iron casserole, melt the coconut through the food mill into the casserole. Bring the coconut puree to a boil over high heat. Reduce the heat to medium and simmer, uncovered, until a bit denser, 10 to 15 minutes. Put the tomatoes, garlic, and onion in the blender and blend for 1 minute. Stir into the coconut sauce, season with salt and pepper, and simmer over low heat for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Add the rabbit pieces to the casserole and stew over low heat until the rabbit is tender, basting the rabbit with the sauce, about 2 hours. Serve from the casserole.
2002 Clifford A. Wright