Posts Tagged ‘French rabbit casserole’

When Small Man went on camp recently, I promised Big Boy that I’d cook something fancy for dinner.  Of course, for me, fancy still means peasant food, but in this case with an unusual cut of meat.

We never eat rabbit at home, and I’d pretty much forgotten why.  But when I arrived home with my bunny, Pete took one look…and announced that he wasn’t hungry.  No amount of persuasion could convince him to taste it, so he ended up having sausages and mash for dinner instead.

On the upside, Big Boy and I loved this dish – a classic French casserole of slow cooked rabbit, finished with small onions, Swiss brown mushrooms and cream.  We served it on truffle oil mashed potatoes, just to be completely over the top.

The recipe is from Jacques Pépin Celebrates and, like all his recipes, worked exactly as it was supposed to.  Here is our take on it…

  • 1 rabbit (ours was about 1¼ kg/2¾ lb)
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 30g/2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 2 medium onions, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons plain flour
  • 4 cloves garlic, peeled, crushed and chopped
  • 6 sprigs fresh thyme, or 1 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1 sprig fresh oregano, or ¼ teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1½ cups water
  • 1 cup white wine

To finish the dish:

  • 225g/8oz small onions, peeled weight (Pépin uses tiny white pearl onions, but we didn’t have any, so we substituted small brown ones)
  • 225g/8oz mushrooms (Pépin recommends oyster mushrooms or chantarelles; we used Swiss browns)
  • ½ cup heavy cream

1. Cut the rabbit into serving sized pieces.  My advice is to get the butcher to do this for you before you leave the store.  I didn’t, and my rabbit ended up looking like it had been dismembered by an axe murderer.

2. Sprinkle the pieces on both sides with half of the salt and pepper.

3. In a large saucepan or Dutch oven, melt the butter and arrange the rabbit pieces in one layer.  Brown over medium heat for about 10 minutes, turning the pieces frequently so that they’re nicely coloured all over.  Add the chopped onions and cook for a few minutes more, then sprinkle over the flour and stir to mix well.

4. Add the garlic, thyme, oregano, water, wine and remaining salt and pepper and stir to mix well.  Bring to a boil, stirring occasionally to prevent the mixture from sticking.  Then reduce the heat, partially cover the pot and cook over a low heat for 1 to 1½ hours at a very gentle simmer.

5. Once cooked, remove the rabbit from the pan with a slotted spoon and transfer to a large clean saucepan.  Pour the reduced cooking liquid through a sieve held over the top of the rabbit pieces.  The dish can be made ahead to this point and stored in the fridge, well covered (which makes it a great party dish).

6. To finish, add the mushrooms and small onions (I cut them in half, to ensure they cooked through – this wouldn’t be necessary with pearl onions) .  Bring to a light boil over medium heat, then reduce the heat to low and simmer gently, covered, for 15 minutes.  Stir occasionally to ensure the mixture doesn’t catch on the bottom.

7. Finally, add the cream and bring to a boil briefly, then serve immediately to six hungry people.  Or in our case, two hungry people and two hungry neighbours with leftovers for an indulgent lunch the following day.

Pépin recommends serving this dish with corn fritters, but it was perfect with mashed potatoes to soak up all the delicious sauce!

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