Now that it’s Easter time, you’re no doubt thinking about Easter bunnies, decorated eggs, and enjoying a grand Sunday dinner or lunch. And no doubt you’re wondering: what’s a great recipe for rabbit? I have the answer.
Despite writing about food fairly often (as served in restaurants in the GDA, or Greater Daglan Area), I don’t intend this blog to be full of recipes. But sometimes a recipe is so worthwhile, it needs to be shared. In the case of rabbit, I often find that its dense white meat is often too dry or chewy, or even tasteless. But not with the recipe I’m about to share: it’s delicious, and fail-safe too.
First, a few words about the original source. It’s a cook book called French Feasts, 299 Traditional Recipes for Family Meals & Gatherings, by Stéphane Reynaud, with photos by Marie-Pierre Morel. It’s useful, interesting, and often quirky, as in this recipe for Rib Steak with Shallot Butter and Marrow, on Page 168. Here’s how the recipe begins: “1. Buy a house in the country, build a stone barbecue, open a good bottle of wine, and have a glass…2. Start up the barbecue with wood gathered from the forest, find some matches (hard because you quit smoking), finish your glass of wine before the bee buzzing around decides to have a bath in it, place the grilling rack over the fire, and wait for embers to form…” And so it goes.
Here’s how the book looks, just in case you’re interested:
Of course you could buy the book, and follow its recipe for Lapin sauté au Riesling (Sautéed Rabbit with Riesling) on Page 282, or you could be smart and follow my variation, which is based on repeated trials in the Radio Free Daglan test kitchen. (We found the original has too many shallots, too much liquid, and not enough cooking time.) So here we go:
Buy a rabbit that’s been cut into serving pieces. (Even better, if available, would be four rabbit legs.) Pre-heat your oven to 175 Celsius (350 F). Then slice three large shallots into fine slivers. Heat a couple of tablespoons of olive oil in a casserole — one that you can use on the stove top and also the oven (ours is a fairly large enameled piece by Le Creuset). Add the shallot slivers and the rabbit pieces, and cook over medium-low heat for 10 minutes or so, turning the rabbit fairly often with tongs; the idea is to cook the meat until it loses most of its pink, but not to brown the rabbit or the shallots.
Now sprinkle the rabbit and shallots with four teaspoons of all-purpose flour, mix well to coat the pieces with flour, and then pour in half a bottle of Riesling wine. Keep cooking until the wine starts to boil, and then cover the casserole and place it in your pre-heated oven for 45 minutes. Take out the casserole, turn over the rabbit pieces, and add a half cup or so of heavy cream. Return the casserole to the oven and cook for another 45 minutes. Take it out and season with salt and pepper, and stir again. Taste the sauce to correct the seasoning. If the sauce seems too thick, add some more cream. Now you’re done.
Serve the rabbit with mashed potatoes and a nice bright vegetable like rounds of carrots or fresh green beans or broccoli. Because the meat remains white and the sauce is light in colour, you might like to decorate your plate with a few springs of parsley or (you should be so lucky) some chervil. You’ll love it.
And guess what? If there is any left over, you can do a nice variation with the remainder. First, shred the rabbit meat off the bones, and refrigerate it with the remaining sauce. Then, for lunch the next day or the next day, you can sauté some mushrooms with slivers of red pepper; mix them into the rabbit shreds and sauce; stir in a healthy amount of cooked spaghetti or other thin pasta, and serve.
Think of it as rabbit two ways. In any case, it’s very tasty and surprisingly easy, as I’m sure you’ll discover. In the meantime, for now, Happy Easter to you and yours.