Recipe: How to Cook Braised Rabbit

braised rabbit

Ted Morrison

Early fall yields two bumper crops: crisp apples and cottontails. Here's a recipe that puts both to use, in old French style, with the rabbits getting a long, slow braise in hard cider. Though an extra step, cooking the loin separately ensures that each part of the rabbit is cooked to perfection.

Ingredients

2 rabbits (about 3 lb. each), cut into pieces, loins reserved
All-purpose flour, for dredging
5 Tbsp. vegetable oil
2 onions, cut in half and thinly sliced
2 Tbsp. unsalted butter
Bouquet garni of 4
Italian parsley sprigs, 4 thyme sprigs, and a bay leaf, tied together with kitchen twine
2 Tbsp. Calvados or applejack
2 cups chicken stock or low-sodium chicken broth
4 slices bacon or pancetta
4 cups dry hard cider
2 Granny Smith apples, peeled, cored, and cut into quarters
1⁄2 cup creme fraiche or heavy cream
Salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste

Directions

[1] In a shallow bowl, season a cup of all-purpose flour with salt and pepper. Coat the rabbit (except the loins) in the flour mixture; set aside.

[2] In a large pan, heat 3 Tbsp. of vegetable oil over medium-high heat. Add the rabbit and cook until browned, 2 to 3 minutes per side. Transfer to a plate.

[3] Pour off remaining fat. Add the butter and onions; lower the heat to medium-low. Saute 12 minutes. Return the meat to the pot, along with the herbs and salt and pepper. Cook for 2 minutes, then sprinkle the Calvados over the rabbit. Ignite the Calvados with a long-necked lighter (off the stove). When the flames subside, add the cider and stock. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to low and simmer for about an hour and 15 minutes, until tender.

[4] With a slotted spoon, remove the rabbit pieces to a platter and cover with foil. Discard the herbs. Raise the heat to high and cook the liquid until reduced by about half, about 20 minutes, occasionally skimming any impurities from the surface.

[5] As the sauce is reducing, wrap the reserved loins in the bacon, securing them with toothpicks. Heat a skillet over high heat and add the remaining 2 Tbsp. vegetable oil. Add the loins and cook until brown, about 4 minutes per side. Transfer them to a cutting board and allow to rest, loosely tented with foil. Slice thinly.

[6] When the liquid is reduced, add the apples and cook until just tender. Gently add the creme fraiche or cream and stir to incorporate. Arrange the braised rabbit pieces and sliced loin on a platter with the apples, and top with the sauce. Sauteed cabbage is an excellent accompaniment. Serves 4 to 6.