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Braised Rabbit

Rabbit2
  

Inspired by a comment from Helen at Beyond Salmon on my Braised Beef Short Ribs post, I decided to cook a rabbit for the first time. I followed my usual procedure when venturing into a new ingredient or preparation, researching about a dozen recipes from all sources and then closing the books and leaving the computer and just cooking. By the way, most of the recipes I read included tomatoes, but since I've been on a braised meat jag lately, doing Short Ribs and Lamb Shanks in the last few weeks, and both of those included tomatoes, in the interest of variety I cut the tomato component in this down to a squirt of paste, to deepen the color slightly without giving it so much tomato flavor.

The sauce was excellent (my last-minute impulse to throw in a piece of cinnamon worked particularly well) but the rabbit itself was a bit chewy, I'm sure because it started out frozen. Tana at Small Farms has been urging me (and everyone else) to seek out the small-farm local suppliers, and I'm edging my way closer to doing that, and this is a prime example. I've had tender rabbit in restaurants, and I know that fresh rabbits must be available near me. According to the excellent article in the Times Style Magazine last Sunday ("The Two Portlands"), Maine has "one of the highest percentages of organic farms in the country." (The article is heavy on Fore StreetDuckfat, Browne Trading, Hugo's, Flatbread and Standard Baking Company, all among the best Portland has to offer, so they pretty much hit the high points.)

I served this with the Camargue Red Rice with Almonds, Herbs and Braised Leeks and a salad of baby spinach, red onions, tomatoes and goat cheese, with fresh chives and a simple Dijon vinaigrette. Very nice for a casual Fall supper.

Braised Rabbit

Serves 4.

1 rabbit, about 3 lb
2 cups flour
2 tsp salt
1 medium onion, chopped
olive oil
1 T tomato paste
2 cloves garlic, minced
3 T fresh rosemary, minced
2 T flatleaf parsley, minced
zest of one lemon
2" cinnamon stick
1-1/2 cup low sodium chicken broth
1 cup hearty red wine
1 T cognac
1 tsp balsamic vinegar
hot sauce to taste

Cut the rabbit into 6 pieces and trim, reserving the internal organs. Put the rabbit pieces, flour and salt in a plastic bag and shake well to coat. Lift the rabbit pieces from the bag and discard the bag and remaining flour.

In a heavy ovenproof pan, large enough to eventually hold all the ingredients, brown the rabbit over high heat on all sides, about 4-5 minutes. Remove to a side plate.

In the same pan, sauté the onion slowly in some olive oil on medium heat, stirring occasionally, until translucent, about 8 minutes. Add the garlic and rosemary and stir another minute or two. Return the rabbit to the pan and add the parsley, zest, cinnamon, tomato paste, chicken broth, red wine and rabbit organs. Cover and simmer very slowly about an hour.

Remove rabbit to a warmed plate. Remove rabbit organs, mince and return them to the pot.  (If desired, for a smoother sauce, scrape the sauce from the pot, deglaze with the cognac and 1/4 C water and scrape all the bits into the sauce, then purée; wipe out any remaining bits in the the pot and return sauce to the pot.) Raise heat, add the cognac (if you didn't choose to purée the sauce) and vinegar, and reduce sauce slightly, stirring. Correct seasoning.

To serve, place a pool if the sauce on a warmed platter and top with the rabbit pieces. Spoon more sauce over the rabbit if desired. Garnish with parsley or rosemary sprigs.

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Comments

I love rabbit, it's so delicious, and I'm glad to see it gaining in popularity in America. My family in Italy prepares it very simply: cut up into pieces, coated liberally with olive oil, salt and rosemary, and roasted in the oven until done.

Stephen,

There's a restaurant in Eugene, Oregon that used to offer a really good rabbit/pasta dish that's been running through my mind lately. And your recipe looks delicious. I wonder where I could find rabbit around here...

I'm a big fan of the Macari Cabernet Franc - I think it's one of the best ones on Long Island. One of the other things I like about Macari is their organic (and part of their vineyards are biodynamic) viticulture as well.

Cab Franc, by the way, is one of the ancestors of Cab Sauvignon - which is a cross between the Cab Franc and the white grape, Sauvignon Blanc.

Dan, you're right...Macari's is one of my favorites...but there are many others worth checking out including Corey Creek, CdB, Broadfields and older (not the 2004 they just released) Schneider.

Macari isn't fully organic or biodynamic...but they are doing the best on the Island. They'll never go all organic...growing conditions on LI just won't allow it!

Kevin,

I usually find rabbits under a brushpile or thick grass. 3/4 oz. of # 7 shot takes care of the rest. There is not a more plentiful game animal than the humble cottontail rabbit, nor one quite so tasty. The most organic of the organic farms cannot produce meat more organic and free range than mother nature.

Fascinating article. I'm one of those meat-loaf-and-lasagna type cooks, but since I started raising rabbits, I've had to hunt for "real" recipes!
Rabbit has such a low moisture and fat content that it can be challenging to keep the meat from becoming dry.

One of the best rabbit recipes I've tasted so far (keeping in mind my uncultured tastes, LOL) is rabbit loin "nuggets" sauteed in butter. If you lightly season the meat with sage, basil, and pepper before cooking, it's pretty good.

hi,

Ive just read the recipe that you have for braiased rabbit. In it you say hot sauce to taste, by this do you mean tabasco or something like that? could you let me know
Regards

Andrea

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