This is part of my New Years Resolution.
I actually prepared this dish Sunday, when brigus came over to visit. I enjoy the texture and rich taste of rabbit but had never actually prepared it before. I decided to braise it rather than take the more common stewing approach. The picture shows the finished dish, served with a side of potatoes (purple and gold) and carrots.
I was pleased with how the rabbit turned out. I particularly fancy the taste of game meats and the moist cooking technique brought that out nicely. I think that I cooked it slightly too long; the texture got a little tough but was still okay. I also need more practice creating reduction sauces; it was a little salty and kept breaking (separating
into oil and solids when the water content got too low).
Overall, it was nice and tasty; I just need some practice with the execution.
Also worth mentioning is the dessert created by kit_ping, a fancy vanilla pudding. This was her first time using vanilla beans. We also carried out quite a bit of experimentation to create the colorful sugar glass decoration. This was inspired by an Iron Chef episode (I know, big surprise there) and took a bit of work to master. But we eventually managed to create a pan of hard sugar with swirls of food coloring.
Braised Whole Rabbits
6 large carrots, chopped into 3" pieces
3 stalks celery, chopped to fit pot
1/4 cup canola oil
1 cup wine (I used Madiera, but any red wine would work)
1 tbsp minced garlic
1/4 onion, diced
seasonings (bay leaf, basil, thyme, oregano, salt, pepper, etc)
1/4-1/2 cup cream (for sauce)
dutch oven or heavy-bottomed large pot, large enough for both rabbits side-by-side
Heat dutch oven on stove over med-high heat. Add 1/8 cup oil and onion.
Clean rabbits, removing any organs and internal fat. Wash outside of rabbits thoroughly. Then rub outside of rabbits with 1/8 cup of oil, salt and pepper.
Add rabbits to pot, on their sides, backs outward. Brown for 2 minutes and flip both rabbits. Add garlic, rosemary, and other seasonings. Brown for 2 more minutes.
Add wine to deglaze the pot. Move the rabbits to ensure they separate from the bottom. Add stock to half-cover rabbits. Push rosemary down into liquid. Add celery.
Reduce heat to medium and let cook for about 15 minutes. Flip rabbits again and check doneness. Add carrots, pushing them down into the stock if possible. Cook for an additional 10 minutes or until done.
Remove carrots and serve as side dish. Discard rosemary and celery. Remove rabbits to serving platter and carve into halves. Remaining liquid can be used to make a sauce as follows:
Pour through a fine strainer into a sauce pan.
Reduce by half over high heat.
Add cream equal to about half the amount of liquid in the pan.
Reduce while continually stirring until sauce reaches desired consistency.
Remove from heat immediately.