c.1670 oil on wood 21”x18” National Gallery, London
Rabbit has bee slow to achieve popularity in the United States, while in European markets, fresh, dressed whole rabbits line the butchers stalls and are regular items on many household menus.
The tender meat is not (as some people say) akin to chicken, but has its own texture and flavor. it offers more substance than most poultry, yet is lighter and more delicate than red meat. In this recipe, rosemary, root vegetables, and mustard complement the meat, and demi-glace adds richness. White or brown rice makes a perfect accompaniment to soak up the savory sauce.
Like poultry, rabbit can pair well with both white and red wines. Try this dish with a full-bodied,barrel-fermented Chardonnay or a rich textured, aromatic Gewurztraminer. Red wines such as Pinot Noir, Sangiovese, and Syrah will pair well with this dish.
1 whole rabbit (about 3 pounds), cut into 6 -8 pieces
4 cups buttermilk
24 pearl onions
2 cups flour
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground pepper
4 tablespoons olive oil
24 baby turnips
24 baby carrots
1/2 cup dry white wine
1 cup demi-glace
1 tablespoon whole grain mustard
1/2 cup heavy cream
1 tablespoon fresh minced rosemary
cooked rice (for serving)
In a large bowl, combine the rabbit and buttermilk. Let stand at room temperature for 30 minutes. Meanwhile, in a medium saucepan of boiling water blanch the pearl onions for 3 minutes. drain and cool in ice water for 3 minutes. Drain, cut off root end, and slip off skins. Set the onions aside.
In a shallow bowl, stir the flour, salt and pepper together well. Drain the rabbit and dredge in the seasoned flour. In a large skillet, heat 3 tablespoons of the olive oil over medium heat ans saute the rabbit pieces, turning occasionally, until all sides are golden and the juices from the meat run clear when pressed with a knife., 35-40 minutes. Using tongs, transfer to a large plate and cover with aluminum foil. Set the pan with the drippings aside.
In a large saute pan or skillet, heat remaining olive oil over medium heat ans saute pearl onions, turnips, and carrots, stirring occasionally, until tender, about 20 minutes. Set aside.
In the same pan the rabbit was cooked in, saute shallots over medium heat until translucent, about 3 minutes. Add the wine and stir to scrape up any browned bits on the bottom of the pan. Cook to reduce the liquid by half. Add the demi-glace and mustard. increase the heat to high and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to low and simmer and add the cream and rosemary. Return the rabbit and vegetables to the pan. Spoon the sauce over them, and cover, and cook over low heat for 5 to 10 minutes. Serve over rice or with rice alongside.