This was the first time I have ever cooked and eaten rabbit, and even though rabbits are adorbale, they also taste great. If you have never tried rabbit, it tastes very similar to chicken, but you can manipulate the flavors easily. I can’t believe I am saying this because rabbits are SO cute; however, being in culinary school, I have to butcher, prepare, and cook everything that is expected of me. Also, growing up in the South, it is common for people to enjoy eating wild game.
We have been butchering our own meats and yes, the rabbit was one of them. To be honest, the fabrication of the rabbit was easier than some other meats we have butchered such as the chicken, duck, and lamb. At first it was hard for me to butcher these little animals but over time I became immune to the process and it actually is quite rewarding to eat something you have personally fabricated and took the time to prepare. I completely understand being vegetarian and never wanting to butcher any animal; however, this is my job and being in culinary school I have to learn all of this. It is a part of the program and I learned to put my sensitive, animal-loving feelings aside.
In this particular dish, we cooked the rabbit’s front leg, back leg, and tenderloin. Since the legs are a locomotive muscle, they required more marination and slow cooking rather than the tenderloin which is a static muscle. The legs braised in the oven for about an hour to an hour and a half while the tenderloin was quickly sautéed in a pan over high heat. A quick tip for cooking meats: if the muscle is tough it will require a slow, wet cooking process. If the muscle is tender, it will require a fast, dry cooking method. This tip really helped me when I entered a cooking competition at school and needed to know exactly what I was going to do with the “mystery meat.”
Warning: this recipe isn’t exactly healthy like the majority of my recipes; however, it is something you can prepare for a special occasion, and whoever you decide to share this meal with will be blown away.
For this recipe you will need:
1 or 2 rabbit front legs
1 or 2 rabbit back legs
Country-style dijon mustard
1 shallot, quartered
Thyme, picked and chopped
Italian flat-leaf parsley, finely chopped
4 oz white wine
6 oz chicken stock
4 oz heavy cream
4 Tbsp Unsalted butter
Salt and pepper to taste
Marinate the rabbit legs in country style dijon mustard atleast 24 hours prior to cooking. Preaheat oven to 375 degrees F. In a medium sauteuse pan, lightly coat the bottom with canola oil. Season the rabbit legs with salt and pepper and sear show-side down over medium-high heat for 1 minute, until golden brown. (Show-side will be the side you will present on the plate; not the inner part of the leg.)
Once the rabbit leg has formed a nice golden brown color, remove from the pan and set aside. Dump out the fat and wipe the pan with paper towels. Add 2 Tbsp butter and shallots and sauté for 2 minutes. Then, deglaze the pan with white wine and toss in the chopped thyme and bay leaf and allow the wine to reduce. Add the rabbit legs back to the pan and pour the stock half-way up the product (until it reaches half-way up the largest leg). Cover or wrap the entire sauteuse pan in aluminum foil and pop into the oven for one hour and 15 minutes.
Remove the rabbit from the oven and transfer the rabbit legs to a plate and place in a warm oven. Then, strain the sauce into a small sauté pan and add the 4 oz heavy cream and half a spoonful of Dijon mustard. Over medium heat, reduce to sauce consistency until the sauce nicely coats the back of a spoon (nappe) without becoming too thick or being too runny. Garnish the sauce with chopped parsley and mount with the leftover 2 Tbsp butter.
We also sautéed the rabbit tenderloin which is a quick, simple process because the tenderloin is a static muscle and remains tender. Season the loin with salt and pepper and sauté in a small amount of fat; 2-3 minutes per side is all it takes. Cut at an angle and spoon pan mustard sauce over the loin.
I hope you love this classic, French recipe as much as I did!