From time to time, when the weather gets a little cold, I remember my grand mother in our house in the French countryside. When freezing outside, we would all stay home, in the kitchen (it was the warmest room of all) and watch her cook for us. Of course, at the time, no fancy dishes or stuff like this, only what we could get from our own land. She used to have tons of rabbits. Not pets. Rabbit that she was planning on eating at some point.
The thought of eating rabbit may very well shock some of the readers of this blog. It’s a pretty common dish in France, but I do understand why folks may think this is horrible. Rabbits are cute and lovely animals. I won’t debate this here. Now, it’s the same thing with any food you eat. You have to respect it. If you don’t care about what you eat, throw away all of it, cook it poorly, then what the hell? Now, if you do care, show respect and passion, then, at least in my mind, things are a little different.
When you see a rabbit being killed in the sole purpose of feeding a family, or when you actually have to do it yourself (my grand mother had me do it to make sure i understand why i should always respect my food and the real cost of feeding), then your attitude towards what’s in your plate is changing. You understand the painful journey from animal to food. Every time I cook any piece animal, I always think about that (yeah, i basically had to kill myself all sort of animals for food: chicken, ducks, fish etc…).
So when it was cold outside, my grandmother would kill a rabbit, bring it to the kitchen, and prepare it. I will skip the part where you actually prepare the animal and just focus on the cooking part. It’s comfort food, so I won’t give you any type of proportions. It has to be done “roughly”.
First of all, ask your butcher to cut the rabbit in 6 pieces. In a big pot (use those nice le creuset ones! they’re actually authentic!), mix some canola oil and butter under high heat. Sprinkle your rabbit pieces with salt and pepper, and brown them in the pot. They have to be brown! And be very careful not to steam them by trying to put too many pieces at once. If you can only do 3 at a time, then take the time to do two batches!
Once it’s all brown, transfer the rabbit on a plate and let rest. Throw away the oil from the pot. Deglaze your pot with some balsamic vinegar. Add some butter and then add 1 diced onion and 2 carrots roughly chopped. Cook under medium heat for 10 minutes, until soft and brown. Add some garlic cloves (i usually put at least 6-7 cloves), skinned on, and crushed. A handful of thyme sprigs, some bay leaves, and a tiny bit of rosemary. Mix all this together then lay on top the rabbit pieces. Then add some wine (i do recommend some white burgundy wine like macon villages). The amount of wine really depends on several factors: 1. how much do you like wine? 2. do you want to keep a glass for yourself while cooking? This time, i actually put the whole bottle in my dish! Mix well and let simmer (covered) for a 50 minutes to 1 hour.
At this point, you have to make a decision: do I want to eat this dish now or tomorrow? It’s actually better if you’re willing to wait for tomorrow, as the meat will then have time to rest in the juices and the braise. But you can also eat it straight away.
Put the rabbit pieces on a plate and reduce the wine sauce under high heat. You can add some flour to make it a bit thicker if needed.
I would serve this with fresh pasta as the combination of the pasta and the wine sauce is just phenomenal!