Saturday, 21 February 2009

Cooking Rabbit – la Cuisson du Lapin

Rabbit is a very popular meat in France, and rabbits for meat are raised both commercially and in ordinary backyards. Wild rabbit is also available during the winter hunting season if you know someone with a hunting licence.

Rabbit hutches in an abandoned farmyard
Rabbit meat is not cheap. I was lucky enough to pick up two cuisses (thighs) reduced to half price recently in the supermarket. The label told me that the rabbit was born and raised in France, and the thighs weighed 464g in total, originally priced at €7.48, reduced to €3.80. The label further informed me that the rabbit was guaranteed to have only been fed vegetable and mineral material. The brand name it was being sold under was Le Volailler (The Poultry Merchant). Rabbit is typically sold on poultry stalls in the markets, but you can often get it from the butcher or game merchant as well.

I decided to serve it using my version of a French recipe, Lapin moutarde à la crème. Since I don't think mustard actually goes terribly well with anything except fish, I did my usual trick of substituting cumin, so here is my recipe below, based on a recipe in Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall's Meat:


Lapin cumin à la crème

Ingredients:

2 rabbit thighs
100g cured meat eg half a saucisson, cut into quarters lengthways and then into chunks
1 tablespoon oil
1 small onion, peeled, cut in half and thickly sliced
1 carrot, cut into chunks
2 celery stalks, cut into chunks
1 bay leaf
A sprig of thyme
1.5 cups cider
½ teaspoon of Ken's gélée de pommes
Salt
Ducros 5 Baies pepper blend
2 tablespoons crème fraîche
¾ teaspoon cumin

Method:
  1. Pre-heat the oven to 120°C.

  2. Heat the oil in a heavy based frying pan.

  3. Gently fry the saucisson until it is lightly browned and the fat runs.

  4. Transfer the saucisson to a casserole.

  5. Next, brown the rabbit and transfer it to the casserole.

  6. Then sweat the onion in the frying pan, but do not let it colour.

  7. Transfer the onion to the casserole when it is soft and translucent.

  8. Put the carrot, celery, bay leaf and thyme in the casserole.

  9. Make sure everything is fairly tightly packed in the casserole, then add the apple jelly, salt and a few grinds of pepper.

  10. Pour over the cider.

  11. Cover the casserole and put in the oven for 1.5 hours. Turn the rabbit over at half time.

  12. Remove from the oven and take out the rabbit pieces, vegetable chunks and saucisson. Put them aside to keep warm.

  13. Strain the broth and boil it hard to reduce to about half a cup of liquid.

  14. Whisk in the crème fraîche and cumin.

  15. Serve the rabbit accompanied by the chunks of meat and vegetable from the casserole, and some mashed or steamed potato. Generously spoon the sauce over the rabbit.
Serves 2

I would rate this dish in my current top 20 favourite main courses. The sauce is piquante, savoury and delicious, the rabbit tender and moist, the vegetables retain their vibrant colours. Simon, who is not a fan of white meat, (nor of rabbit in particular, for more socio-cultural reasons) was less impressed.

Susan

3 comments:

Ken Broadhurst said...

Sounds interesting, but I'd have to make it with mustard instead of cumin and lardons fumés instead of saucisson. I'd also use white wine, since I'm in Touraine, and not cider, which is Norman. With the mustard, I wouldn't add the gelée de pommes. I guess I'm a traditionalist when it comes to classic French recipes.

But it sounds like I would enjoy your version more than maybe Simon does. Walt and I always cook a rabbit on Easter. I can't remember now what recipe we have settled on for this coming Easter. Last year we made a rabbit in a Thai curry sauce, with coconut milk.

My word verification string is bleatica, which makes me think of mutton, not rabbit.

wcs said...

The recipe does sound good, and Lapin à la moutarde de dijon is a classic.

We're going to try a tajine of rabbit this year (a spicy stew).

Simon said...

Awwwwwwww

Ken ate the easter rabbit. Now we know who to blame for the lack of chocolate eggs last year