Rabbit; The Final Frontier

Joli Lapin

When I was growing up I wasn’t exposed to much in the way of game meat.  Aside from the occasional curried goat roti (a nod to my mother’s Caribbean heritage) or a festive Cornish rock hen (often my father’s answer to preparing holiday meals for 2) I didn’t really develop a taste for wilder fare until I was in my early 20’s.

Without a doubt, the one meat I’ve been an exceptionally slow adopter to is rabbit.  This is partly because the skinned carcass of a whole rabbit too closely resembles that of the small felines that share my home.  I make no bones about eating cute, fuzzy animals if they taste good, but the possibility of questionable provenance has held me back in the past.

It’s taken a few years, but I’ve gradually warmed to the idea of rabbit.  It may have started during a meal at Cowbell or perhaps tasting a terrine from The Black Hoof, I’m not quite sure.  While we were in Quebec City in the fall I enjoyed shredded rabbit confit linguine at Le Lapin Saute, and for our anniversary I consumed a similar dish at Splendido.  I’m still not a fan of rabbit rilettes, but I think I’ve made substantial leaps and bounds (har har!) towards getting over my mental distaste for it.

Recently, I even went so far as to buy a saddle of rabbit at Fiesta Farms, a place I know I can steadfastly trust not to sell me skinned kittens.  But for several days the packet of rabbit sat on the bottom shelf of the fridge, taunting me.

At first I’d considered using the Ratio app to make another batch of dough for tagliatelle, but pasta seemed an awful lot of work, and also not very far outside of my past 2 rabbit experiences.  I briefly toyed with confit as well, until I realized the duck fat was frozen.

Mise En Place

Finally, I settled on a rustic preparation that I assumed would produce delectable results with minimal effort (always a bonus after a long day at work).  The saddle was split, seasoned with salt and pepper and browned lightly in a pan.

Sweaty Leeks

Next, my dutch oven was employed to sauté some garlic, leeks, celery and carrot until softened.

Moutarde

A fairly generous splash of white wine deglazed, a few spoon plops of a mustard the Everyman’s mother brought us back from France enriched and sprigs of thyme aromatized.

Ready For Braise

Adding a couple of my frozen chicken stock cakes to the pan, I tossed in a handful of quartered baby potatoes, replaced the lid and braised it for an hour and a half.

The finished dish was almost exactly what I wanted.  The broth was rich and savoury, the meat succulent, and the veg al dente tender.  Next time I’d perhaps reduce the amount of liquid in the braise a touch (I added a cup of water to bring the liquid level up), but overall the meal was a success.  The Everyman confirmed it hadn’t been a failure when he enquired the next day if there would be rabbit in his lunch.  A small victory, but a victory nonetheless.

Foodie’s Mustardy Braised Bunny

2 lb rabbit saddle, split

3 cloves garlic, chopped

3 small carrots, roughly chopped

2 stalks celery, roughly chopped

1 leek, roughly chopped, dark greens discarded

6 small potatoes, quartered

1 c. white wine

2 c. chicken stock

1 tbsp grainy mustard

large handful of thyme sprigs

olive oil

salt

pepper

Preheat oven to 350*.  Heat olive oil in a dutch oven until shimmering.  Season rabbit with salt and pepper and sear until both sides are browned; remove to a plate.  Sauté garlic, carrots, celery and leeks in a splash of olive oil until translucent and softened.  Add white wine to deglaze the pan, then stir in chicken stock, grainy mustard and thyme.  Add potatoes and stir to combine, then nestle rabbit into the broth.  Braise, covered for 1.5 hours.  Serve in a bowl with a large scoop of braised veg and broth.

Makes 4 servings.

Until next time…

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