Braised rabbit with mustard recipe (lapin à la moutarde)
- Cuisine: French
- Prep Time: 10 min(s)
- Cook Time: 1 hr(s) 20 min(s)
- Serves 4
It is probably the biggest divider between our two nations. The French on one hand looks at the rabbit as food; the British as a pet (non edible). This dish was eaten every other Sunday. I clearly remember Maman Blanc having misty eyes as she fed her rabbits every day. Nutritionally, rabbit is a low-fat way of getting protein into our meals, which supplies the building blocks needed to maintain all our cells, enzymes and hormones. Rabbit is also rich in iron, the mineral needed to reduce the chances of becoming anaemic which makes you tired, lacking in concentration and depressed. It is also a good source of selenium (for the immune system), and niacin (for energy production).
Level of difficulty: Easy
Special equipment: 25–30 cm heavy-based flameproof casserole dish with lid
IngredientsTo prepare rabbit
1 x 1.5–2 kg whole farmed rabbit cut into 14 pieces (1 x head, 1 x neck, 2 x shoulders, 2 x legs, 3 x saddle, 3 x rib cage, 2 x belly, see note 1)
4 pinches sea salt
4 pinches crushed black peppercorns
20 g Dijon mustard
To cook rabbit
60 g unsalted butter, plus 20 g extra
180 g onion, cut into 6 wedges
8 garlic cloves, skin on
150 g small button mushrooms
8 whole black peppercorns (see note 2)
2 sage leaves
2 tarragon sprigs
1 bay leaf
2 thyme sprigs
30 ml white wine vinegar
200 ml white wine, boiled for 30 seconds, reserved (see note 3)
150 ml water
1 tbsp chopped fresh parsley
Preparation1. To prepare rabbit, preheat oven to 120°C. In a large bowl, season rabbit with salt and crushed peppercorns. Add mustard and stir to coat rabbit.
2. To cook rabbit, heat half of butter in a large heavy-based flameproof casserole dish on medium, until lightly foaming. Cook legs, shoulder pieces, neck and head on each side for 7-8 minutes (see note 4). Repeat in a separate pan with remaining butter and saddle, rib cage and belly pieces and then transfer to a plate.
3. While rabbit is cooking, heat extra butter in a small saucepan on medium. Cook onion, garlic, mushrooms, peppercorns and herbs for 10 minutes, until lightly golden (see note 5). Season after 2 minutes. Add vinegar (see note 6) to rabbit and cook until liquid is reduced to a syrup.
4. Add garlic, onion and herbs to legs, shoulder, neck and head, then add wine and the water. Bring to a boil, cover and cook in oven, stirring occasionally, for 1 hour. Add browned saddle pieces to pan and continue to cook for 10 minutes. Season to taste.
5. Remove rabbit and vegetables from casserole dish. Heat liquid on high, until reduced by one-third. Pour sauce over rabbit, top with parsley and serve with French beans, Swiss chard, braised lettuce or any other seasonal vegetables.
1. First get to know your rabbit! Try to find the best breed. I like Rex de Poitou or ‘Label Rouge’ breed. Their weight can be from 1.5 kg to 2 kg. Ask your butcher to prepare this for you. Wild rabbits, will weigh from 800 g to 1.2 kg and will take a little longer to cook than farmed ones, so add an extra 30 minutes to the cooking time until the meat just falls off the bone.
2. The whole black peppercorns will release their true character through the long cooking, slowly releasing their spice. So for all long cooking, add whole black pepper at the start.
3. For all my recipes I boil the wine first to remove most of the alcohol and the tannins, keeping the freshness and character of the wine. I don’t have to reduce it to order.
4. This must be done on a medium heat. You can actually hear the gentle sizzling of the butter. This must be done in one single layer and while the butter is beautifully browning the meat, the juices are leaking out, caramelising on the base of the pan which will create the rich flavour for your sauce. Do not stir the rabbit, let the pieces brown slowly. Sure, I could easily cook it in hot oil, but it would never get the same flavour.
5. Through gentle heating and sweetening you are translating the carbohydrate and starch into sugar and flavour. I am sure you all have tasted the difference between a raw onion and a cooked onion.
6. This is the main danger in the dish. The idea is to reduce down the vinegar and coat the rabbit in it. If you under reduce the vinegar, then you will have a sauce that is too acidic.
This cooking technique can be used for any meat. Of course, any of your favourite herbs could be added to the dish, and any vegetables too. Olives and wild mushrooms would be a lovely addition. Once you understand the technique you can use any type of meat you wish, from chicken to crocodile – actually, sorry you can’t, it’s an endangered species.
SBS Cook’s Notes
This recipe has been reproduced with minor SBS recipe style changes. | Oven temperatures are for conventional; if using fan-forced (convection), reduce the temperature by 20˚C. | We use Australian tablespoons and cups: 1 teaspoon equals 5 ml; 1 tablespoon equals 20 ml; 1 cup equals 250 ml. | All herbs are fresh (unless specified) and cups are lightly packed. | All vegetables are medium size and peeled, unless specified. | All eggs are 55–60 g, unless specified.
If you enjoyed this Braised rabbit with mustard recipe (lapin à la moutarde) then browse more French recipes, meat recipes, the very hungry frenchman recipes, slow cooking recipes and our most popular hainanese chicken rice recipe.
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