I'm Chris - or Christopher - or Mr. Dean - or Master Christopher - or just plain Sir. I'm a self-professed foodie. I love to cook and I take great pleasure in all things edible. My husband and I are relatively new to Portland, Oregon and are enjoying our culinary explorations of the area!
Food is NOT just fuel!
Thursday, December 8, 2011
It’s funny – rabbit is a delicacy. I remember having it as a kid because people in my family hunted (we also had squirrel, lots of deer, and lots of catfish). The first time I had it again, but in a much more delicate and delicious way, was at Lucien on 1st Avenue (at 1st Street) in NYC. It’s braised and served in a delicious mustard sauce, with some huge papardelle noodles. Simply outstanding!!
A few years back I got a whole fryer rabbit from the online store D’Artagnan and attempted to make a recipe by Tyler Florence. It was okay, but I was convinced I had done something wrong. So last week, I tried it again. I picked up a rabbit from New Seasons and pulled out the same recipe for braised rabbit. Oddly enough every rabbit I’ve ever bought comes with a few of the organs still attached inside. Not sure why, not sure I need to do the research to figure out why. I just tore them out and went along my merry way. You do need to chop up the rabbit – it’s not as simple as a chicken (pre-defined sections). I did remove all 4 legs, and then I simply cut across the spine to make 4 more pieces of rabbit. The back has a lot of delicious meat on it, and it’s best to eat it right off the bone. We ended up with 2 legs each (one with a meaty thigh), and 2 pieces of the back (or loin of rabbit, if you will).
It’s an interesting recipe that calls for lots of black olives – something that truly dismayed me initially. Don’t get me wrong, I love black olives. I have fond memories of the black & green olive plate that was out at every single big family feast as a kid. But I wasn’t sure how they were going to incorporate into the braised rabbit dish. Boy was that hesitation unfounded!!
The key to the recipe is the reduction of the sauce at the end. Really, really reduce it. I mean it needs to be thick and delicious. PLUS I made a little addition to the sauce at the end – 2 Tbl butter, and salt & pepper (based on flavor – taste first to see if it actually needs it). The butter made all the freaking difference in the world. The rabbit was tender and moist, and I piled the pieces up over a mash mixture of potatoes and sweet potatoes. Then I liberally poured the sauce over top and piled up oodles of black olives. Here’s the amazing part – as the sauce reduces, the olives suck up so much flavor! They were outstanding!! Truly a decadent meal, and one that is staying in my collection of recipes!! Seriously, I could not stop gushing over the sauce - it was pure taste bliss!
Tyler Florence suggests a side dish of caramelized radicchio with a salsa verde. I didn’t care for the salsa verde – so I simply caramelized some radicchio (one head of radicchio cut in half, sautéed in some olive oil over low heat for 15 to 20 minutes – flipping often – until caramelized and delicious), and then I drizzled the halves with olive oil & balsamic vinegar.
[NOTE: original calls for 2 rabbits, so this is my ½’d version with my own additions]
1 whole rabbit, cut into thigh sized pieces (as described above)
2 cups flour
1 Tbl minced Thyme
1 Tbl minced Oregano
4 Tbl olive oil
4 cloves garlic
1 bunch fresh Rosemary
1 whole red hot pepper
1 ½ cups black olives
½ bottle white wine
2 – 3 cups chicken stock
Parsley for garnish (oops…I forgot to garnish)
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.
In a shallow bowl, combine flour, thyme, oregano, salt and pepper. Dredge the rabbit in the seasoned flour and set aside.
In a large pot (I used my dutch oven), heat the olive oil and fry the garlic, rosemary and pepper to infuse the oil with their flavors. Remove the items from the infused oil and set aside for use later. Place the seasoned rabbit pieces in the pot and cook for 5 – 7 minutes (original says 7 – 10 minutes, but as soon as you get a nice golden brown you’re good to remove the rabbit) on both sides until the meat is golden brown. Add the reserved rosemary, garlic and pepper back into the pot. Add the olives (whole), wine and chicken stock. Move things about a bit just to make sure none of the rabbit is stuck to the bottom. Place the pot in the oven, uncovered, for 40 minutes (original says 30 – I pushed it to 40, use your judgment on the done-ness of the rabbit).
Once the rabbit is cooked through and tender, remove the pieces of rabbit from the pot and set aside (big slotted spoon works best). Over relatively high heat, bring the sauce to a boil and reduce. Reduce it to the point the sauce coats the back of a pan. Another of my favorite tests is to drag your spoon or spatula along the bottom of the pan – if you can see the bottom of the pan for about a second before the sauce falls back into place, it’s thick enough! Pour the sauce over the rabbit and serve!