Where I grew up in Lyon, rabbit is often cooked in red wine, which is a shame because rabbit is such a beautiful, delicate meat and the red wine can overpower it. My recipe uses white wine and that is why I love this dish.
- 80 g butter, chopped
- 600 g eschalots, peeled, thinly sliced
- 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
- 500 g speck (see Note) or streaky bacon, rind removed, cut into 2 cm squares
- 24 Swiss brown mushrooms
- 750 ml (3 cups) chicken stock
- 1.25 litres dry white wine
- 450 g Dijon mustard
- 300 ml pouring cream
- 3 tbsp chopped lemon thyme leaves
- 75 g (½ cup) plain flour
- 2 x 1.4 kg rabbits, each jointed into 6 pieces (see Note)
- 100 ml vegetable oil
- 1½ tbsp cornflour
- chervil and pan-fried green beans, to serve
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.
DRINK 2009 Paul Pillot Chassagne-Montrachet 1er Cru ‘Les Caillerets’, Burgundy, France ($100)
Melt butter in a stockpot or large saucepan over medium heat and cook for 2 minutes or until starting to foam. Add eschalots and garlic, and cook, stirring, for 7 minutes or until eschalots are translucent.
Add speck and cook, stirring, for 3 minutes or until starting to colour. Add mushrooms and cook, stirring, for 4 minutes or until tender. Add stock and wine, and bring to the boil. Reduce heat to low, add mustard, cream and thyme, then remove from heat and set aside.
Place flour in a large bowl, season with salt and pepper, then add 3 rabbit pieces, tossing to coat.
Shake off excess. Repeat in batches with remaining rabbit pieces and flour.
Heat 2 tbsp oil in a large frying pan over medium heat. Working in batches, cook rabbit, turning occasionally, for 5 minutes or until golden on all sides. Transfer to a plate and repeat with remaining oil and rabbit.
Add back legs and saddle pieces to reserved mustard cream sauce. Place pan over medium heat and cook, uncovered, for 35 minutes, then add remaining forelegs and cook for a further 35 minutes or
until rabbit is tender.
Using a slotted spoon, transfer rabbit, eschalots, speck and mushrooms to a plate. Cover and keep warm.
Combine cornflour and 1½ tbsp water, mixing until a paste forms, then stir into mustard mixture. Increase heat to medium–high and bring to the boil, stirring constantly. Reduce heat to medium-low, simmer for 5 minutes or until thickened, then return rabbit, eschalots, speck and mushrooms to pan and cook for 2 minutes or until warmed through. Scatter over chervil and serve with pan-fried green beans.
• Speck is a German-style smoked bacon available from select delis and butchers.
• Using a sharp knife, separate the back legs from the forelegs by cutting across the backbone and ribcage. Cut between the back legs to separate them. Cut the saddle into two across the backbone, then cut the forelegs and ribcage into two along the backbone. You will have 6 pieces. Rabbits are also available (skinned, gutted and head removed) from select butchers. Ask your butcher to joint the rabbit for you.
Photography by John Reyment. Drinks suggestions by Dan Coward.