hen I was 9 years old, my mother served me dinner from a stewpot that I thought contained chicken, said Melissa Clark in The New York Times. Later, to my horror, I learned that I had eaten rabbit. “I got pretty perturbed picturing poor Bugs Bunny, carrot in hand, being dismembered and sautéed.”
Even now, whenever I order braised rabbit, a cartoon image flashes through my mind of “rabbit ears, fluffy cottontail, and orange carrot swirling in a pot.” Maybe that’s why, when I decided to prepare the dish myself, I made sure it featured an abundance of carrots. The combination makes culinary sense—lean, mild rabbit pairs well with sweet flavors. And slow, precise cooking renders the rabbit meat “falling-off-the-bone tender.”
Recipe of the week
Mustardy Braised Rabbit With Carrots
¼ cup all-purpose flour
2 thyme sprigs
1 rosemary sprig
1 whole clove
One 2½-lb rabbit, cut into 8 pieces, rinsed and patted dry
1½ tsp kosher salt
1½ tsp ground black pepper
¼ cup (4 tbsp) extra-virgin olive oil
4 large leeks, halved lengthwise, cleaned and thinly sliced crosswise
3 tbsp chopped fresh sage
1 lb carrots, peeled, trimmed, and cut into 1½-inch chunks
1 celery stick, diced
3 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
2 tsp whole coriander seeds
1 cup dry white wine
About 2 cups chicken stock
1 to 2 tbsp Dijon mustard, to taste
2 tbsp chopped fresh parsley, for garnish
Buttered noodles, for serving (optional)
Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Place flour in shallow bowl. Tie thyme, rosemary, clove in spice sachet or square of cheesecloth. Season rabbit pieces all over with salt and pepper. Coat each piece evenly with flour; tap off excess. Heat 3 tbsp oil in large ovenproof Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Sear rabbit in batches, until browned all over, 5 to 6 minutes a side. Transfer to paper-towel-lined plate. Add remaining 1 tbsp oil to pot; reduce heat to medium. Add leeks and 2 tbsp sage and cook, stirring, until softened, about 2 minutes. Stir in carrots, celery, garlic, coriander, salt, and pepper. Cook, stirring, until vegetables begin to color, about 5 minutes.
Add wine and increase heat to high; simmer, scraping up browned bits from bottom of pot, until reduced by half, about 5 minutes. Return rabbit to pot. Add stock (it should come almost halfway up the sides of rabbit) and herb sachet (or herbs and clove). Transfer pot to oven and cook, partially covered, until meat is fork tender, about 2 hours. Transfer rabbit pieces to serving platter. If liquid seems too thin, place pot over medium-high heat and simmer until it thickens slightly. Discard sachet. Stir in mustard, to taste. Spoon sauce and vegetables over rabbit. Garnish with parsley and remaining 1 tbsp chopped sage. Serve with noodles, if desired. Serves 4.
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