Easter is coming and there are bunnies everywhere! I mostly see them in the supermarket, in the meat aisle. That makes more sense than hunting eggs or hiding eggs or hopping over multicoloured eggs. Maybe because I never had to look for chocolate eggs when I was a kid, that I don’t understand what is the point behind the bunny…. I may have been French all along…. or in some past life… You can pretty much find everything that could be eaten here sold as food. There is no one protesting for the human rights of ducks and geese (So, foie gras is not ok, but KFC is?) and there is no hoopla and tears over horse meat (tainted meat is another matter). I am not saying I am for the mindless herding and de-beaking of poor little chicks, they should run free, but they are bred for food. You can’t attach too much, people (maybe I get this ‘cruel’ streak from my own mother who cooked her own pet rabbit when he got too big and kept its fluffy tail… or maybe she got him and he was too small so she wanted to plump him up… I don’t remember). To finalize the picture of France and the relation to food and terroir: I saw a lady on the tv the other day making boudins, (France’s black sausage) and she spoke how that was meat from her own pigs, that she’s raised, she’s been there since their birth and now she’s making them into sausages! *cue big smile on lady’s face* And that’s how it goes, folks. The cycles turns. If this makes you feel queasy, then there is vegetarianism to try – à chacun son goût.
I got this recipe from the BBC Food website sometime around last Christmas and I’ve been eyeing it ever since. Finally the duck breast has been replaced by bunnies so I can have this 🙂 It is not the usual mustard sauce, but I couldn’t help adding any. Either way, before or after adding the mustard, this is by far the best rabbit I have ever had. I am not exaggarating, it’s true.
It doesn’t say what kind of white wine you need for it, but I researched. You need a dry white wine, like Pinot Gris (Grigio) or Sauvignon. I chose the Sauvignon because what was up with the Pinot Gris price?! If you make it with that grape, let me know how it goes. I doubt there will be much of a difference or you have an exceptionally discerning palate!
One thing that I was extremely sad, bummed, disappointed and downright blue about was the fact that yes, even in France, where there is everything you could possibly eat, I could NOT find sage to save my life!!!! I went everywhere! Supermarkets, markets, fresh, frozen aisles… no-where. Not a leaf of sage. All you need are 6 leaves of sage, but I know for a fact they will make a difference. Fresh sage is something extraordinary and it double bums me that I won’t be able to make something else that I’ve been dying to make. Darn it… why can’t I find it and where is it hinding?? What’s next, I break into someone’s potager and steal some? How ironic… Who’s now the bunny ruining someone’s carrot patch? hahahahahah
The recipe since it is a garlic sauce recipe calls for one entire head of garlic halved and cooked with the stew. What makes the garlic sauce garlicky is actually the garlic purée you add in the end. I was reading the recipe and I just couldn’t find what the chef, Paul Merrett, does with the skin-on garlic halves. Was something missed? Should I clean them? And then I find it – I need to strain out the veggies, all glorious leeks and garlics and throw them away and cream the sauce!!! WHAT?! That is NOT happening, my friend. Thanks, but no thanks. I hate that waste! I even find ways to use up the vegetables that I used to flavour my home-made chicken stock! You would be crazy to throw that out! Therefore, I used a few cloves whole with the stew, which I then smashed together with my stirring spoon once they were nice and creamy soft. Ta da!
This recipe is for an entire rabbit. I adjusted it in that I had 720 gr meat (front legs and ribs (4) (the lungs were left in; was I supposed to do something with that?! Also, how much does a whole rabbit weigh anyway?) but unlike my experience with the bœuf bourguignon recipe, I was (almost) not going to touch the liquid quantities here. Good call. 🙂 I did reduce the amount of cream and the FAT in the cream, thank you very much, England. It calls for 600 ml DOUBLE CREAM (40%)!!! Are you mad? I can hear my arteries stopping right now! I used 200 ml 12% cream and it is just fine. Go ahead and indulge. But I’d rather save some space in the daily count and have a délice than 40% cream. Having cream period! is bad enough.
Unlike what I said I won’t do in the bœuf bourguignon, I did that here: brown the mushrooms in a separate pan. Which I then had to deglaze. Cause again, how can I let that go to waste?! If you want, you can start by browning the mushrooms first thing and then continuing with the recipe.
I know I am having this mid-week and not on Easter, but I couldn’t help it! So, from me to you, Happy Easter!
720 gr rabbit
2 tsp – 1 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp + 1 tsp butter
5 cloves whole + 4 more for purée
1 celery stick
4 bay leaves (instead of the 6 sage leaves)
1 tbsp dried thyme
1/2 – 1 tsp whole white peppercorns (didn’t have any, didn’t add)
300 ml dry white wine (Sauvignon) + 1 tbsp for deglazing
1 bouillon cube
flour for dredging
salt and pepper
130 gr button mushrooms
200 ml 12% fat cream
2 tsp Dijon mustard, doux (any would work, just taste and adjust for strength)
sprinkling of chives or parsley
1. Heat a bit of the olive oil with the better part of the butter in a cocotte or a Dutch oven.
2. Season the flour with some salt and pepper and dredge the rabbit meat in the flour. Shake any excess.
3. Fry in batches in the cocotte on medium heat until it is browned on all sides. Turn often. When browned, set aside on a plate.
4. Add the celery, leek, whole white peppercorns (if using), the 5 whole garlic cloves, the thyme and bay leaves (or sage). Fry for 4-5 minutes until softened.
5. Add all the wine, let it come to a boil and boil for a bit until it has reduced by half.
6. Add the stock or water and bouillon cube and rabbit pieces. Bring to a gentle simmer. If the liquid doesn’t cover the meat, add a bit more water. Simmer uncovered until the sauce has thickened and the rabbit is tender (I really didn’t know how to know if it was tender or not; I didn’t want to puncture the meat to check. 1h was sufficient)
7. After 1h remove the rabbit pieces, reserve and keep warm.
8. Increase the heat and let the sauce come to a boil and boil for 4-5 minutes until the sauce has thickened and reduced a bit.
9. Reduce the heat to a simmer and add the cream. Stir and simmer some 10 minutes until the sauce has thickened slightly. (this is where you can strain the sauce, discard the vegetables and return the meat to the sauce to warm up. I didn’t)
10. Crush with the bag of your stirring spoon the whole garlic cloves in the sauce and return the meat to the cocotte.
11. In the meantime, crush/chop/smash/mash/press/shuffle to a paste/purée the 4 whole garlic cloves (this is easier if you chop them finely, or go ahead and pass them through a garlic press. Also, add a sprinkling of salt, it will help purée it faster…)
12. Add the garlic purée to taste… maybe you’ll find that is too much. It was fine for me.
13. Meanwhile, heat up a bit of the butter with a drop or two of olive oil in a clean frying pan and fry the mushrooms until they’re nicely browned and have reduced some of their liquid.
14. If it’s starting to brown or caramelize on the bottom, deglaze with a tbsp of white wine. Stir the mushrooms in the rabbit stew.
15. Add the teaspoons of mustard. Start easy, stir and taste; it will depend on your preference or how strong your mustard is. Also, you can totally avoid the mustard and it will still be amazing.
16. To serve, sprinkle some chives or parsley on top.
Voilà! Joyeuses Pâques!