A Feast for Alphonse Louis Constant

Civet de lapin (rabbit stew)

Sunday, May 31 was the Greater Feast of Alphonse Louis Constant (1810 – 1875), often known by his pseudonym Eliphas Lévi. According to the Invisible Basilica,Aleister Crowley considered him to have been an Adeptus Major, as well as his own immediately previous incarnation. Crowley translated his La Clé des Grandes Mystéres (‘The Key of the Mysteries’ 1861), which Crowley considered to be his own Adeptus Exemptus thesis. Lévi’s Dogme et Rituel de la haute magie (1855-56 & 61, translated into English by A. E. Waite under the title ‘Transcendental Magic’) is included in the Liber E reading list and is required reading for entry to the probationer level of A:. A:.”

In honor of this great magician, we present a dish from his era in France.

Civet de Lapin
Civet de lapin (rabbit stew)

  • 2 rabbits, 3-4 pounds each
  • 2/3 cup rabbit blood (and/or the rabbit livers, cut in small pieces)
  • 4 tsp apple cider vinegar
  • 4 oz salt pork, cut into ½ inch cubes
  • 16 small onions, peeled and scored with a deep “x” at the root end
  • Flour for dredging
  • Salt to taste
  • Pepper to taste
  • ½ lbs mushrooms, halved or quartered
  • ¼ cup brandy
  • 2 cups burgundy
  • 1 tsp dry mustard
  • 1 cup rich brown stock
  • 1 tbs chopped fresh parsley
  • Few sprigs fresh thyme
  • Few sprigs fresh savory
  • Few sprigs fresh hyssop
  • Small handful fresh chives
  • Small handful fresh sage
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 recipe Forcemeat Balls
  • Butter or oil for frying

Clean the rabbits. Put the blood, the livers (if you are using them) and the vinegar in a bowl, cover and set aside. Cut the rabbits into serving pieces.

In a large heavy stewpot, brown the salt portk over medium heat until most of the fat has been rendered. Remove the pork cubes and set them aside.

Brown the onions on all sides in the pork fat. Remove and set aside.

Season the flour with salt and pepper. Dredge the rabbit pieces in the flour and brown them, a few at a time, in the pork fat. Set them aside.

Sauté the mushrooms in the pork fat. Remove and set aside.

Deglaze the pot with the brandy. Add the burgundy and simmer for 5 minutes to cook off the alcohol. Make a smooth paste of the mustard and 1 tbs of the stock. Add the paste and the remaining stock to the liquid in the pot.

Return the rabbit, onions, mushrooms, and salt pork to the pot. Add the herbs. Bring gradually to a boil, cover, reduce the heat and simmer gently for two hours, stirring occasionally. Remove the bay leaf.

Put the blood and vinegar through a fine sieve. If you are using the livers, you will need to mash them a bit to produce a purée. Add the mixture to the pot, stirring as little as possible – the blood should be evenly distributed, but if it’s stirred too much it may tend to curdle. Simmer 10-15 minutes.

While the civet is simmering, heat 2 tbs of the butter or oil in a skillet. Fry the Forcemeat Balls until they are nicely browned on all sides.

Serve in wide soup plates and garnish with Forcemeat Balls.

Serves 8.

Portable Soup

  • 30 lbs very meaty bones (any combination of beef, pork, or veal)
  • 2 pigs feet or 1 lbs ham (optional)
  • 6 large onions, peeled and cut in half
  • 6 large carrots, peeled and cut in half
  • 6 ribs celery with leaves, cut in pieces
  • Large handful fresh parsley
  • Large handful fresh thyme
  • Large handful fresh hyssop
  • Large handful fresh marjoram
  • 1 tbs mace
  • 12 whole cloves
  • 3 tbs peppercorns
  • Salt to taste

In a large stewpot (this may take more than one), brown the bones on all sides, a few at a time, in their own fat.

Return all the bones to the pot(s) and add vegetables, herbs, spices, and water to cover. Bring slowly to a boil, skimming off any scum that forms on the surface. Cover loosely enough that a little steam can escape. Reduce heat and simmer at least 6 hours.

Strain and skim the stock, discarding the bones. At this point you must decide whether to leave the meat in the broth or discard it. Put the stock in the widest pot or pan you can find. Bring to a gentle boil over medium heat. Cook, uncovered, skimming occasionally, until the liquid is reduced to one-eighth its original volume (about 6 more hours).

Pour the reduced stock into a shallow pan and refrigerate until firmly set. Run a knife around the edges and take the soup out of the pan. Cut it into 1-inch cubes and freeze in an airtight container.

Depending on the concentration required, the dilution ratio will be approximately 4 cubes portable soup to 1 cup hot water.

Makes about 3 lbs of portable soup cubes.

Forcemeat Balls

  • 1 lbs veal, finely minced
  • 1 lbs suet, finely grated
  • 1 small onion, peeled and finely chopped
  • ½ cup breadcrumbs
  • 1 egg
  • ½ tsp chopped fresh parsley
  • ½ tsp chopped fresh thyme
  • ½ tsp chopped fresh savory
  • ½ tsp salt
  • ¼ tsp pepper
  • Pinch of ground nutmeg
  • Pinch of ground cayenne

Mix all incredients thoroughly. Wetting your hands first, roll the forcemeat into small balls about ¾ inch diameter. Chill until needed.

Makes about 3 dozen.

Recipes from Lobscouse & Spotted Dog, by Anne Chotzinoff Grossman and Lisa Grossman Thomas; the book was a generous gift to this author from Lance Parkin.


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