Rabbit three ways

This is my take on those “something three ways” dishes that are popular on TV programmes like Masterchef, but not as complicated.

say that it isn’t complicated but there are a number of stages to go through to get the finished dish on the plate. Ideally your rabbit will be oven-ready from the butcher, so you won’t have to skin the bunny.

  1. Joint the rabbit and bone the loin. You want the back and front legs as little joints and hopefully you will have the kidneys as well. If you also have the liver, even better.
  2. Make a rabbit stock with the bones, some herbs and vegetables.
  3. Poach the legs in the finished stock until they are tender.
  4. Roll the loin in some serrano ham, Parma ham or pancetta.
  5. Prepare and cook the macedoine (small cubes) of vegetables. I used swede and carrots, but you could also use turnips or celeriac. You need to boil the vegetables and save them for later.
  6. Reduce the stock after poaching the legs to make a gravy.
  7. Breadcrumb the front legs and deep fry them.
  8. Sauté the back legs in butter.
  9. Fry the loin for about 8-10 minutes in butter. Slice and brown the slices if they seem a little underdone.
  10. Steam the cabbage and keep warm.
  11. Reheat the macedoine and dress with some butter.
  12. Plate up and serve.

Some of these steps are pretty obvious but a few need more explanation.

The rabbit is quite easy to joint up. Basically you remove the front and rear legs as you would when you joint a chicken and the loin can be removed from the backbone carefully with a sharp knife. The bones and trimmings then form the basis of your stock.

To make the stock, heat some oil in a saucepan and fry the bones and trimmings until they colour. Add a roughly chopped large carrot, a leek cut into rings, a stick of celery and some herbs. I used bay, parsley, rosemary and thyme. Add a few black peppercorns and a scant teaspoon of salt. Fry a bit and then deglaze the pan. I used Calvados, but you could use cider, white wine or a light beer. Then add about 750 ml of hot water, bring to the boil, cover and simmer for 45 minutes. Strain the stock and throw away the bones and vegetables.

Poach the front and rear legs in the strained stock for about 30 minutes. Remove the front legs but leave the back ones for another 30 minutes. They will need more cooking. Remove and set aside.

Reduce the remaining stock with some Madeira or Marsala. Taste and adjust the seasoning and strain again.This needs to be reheated while you are cooking the meat and thickened, if necessary with some beurre manié.

The front legs need to be floured, egged and crumbed. I used my favourite panko crumbs for this. They should be deep-fried while you are cooking the loin and drained on kitchen roll.

The loin, once rolled in the ham, needs to be cooked in a frying pan before resting for about 8-10 minutes, turning it in the butter and ensuring that it is turned so that all sides are cooked.

The back legs can be cooked in the pan at the same time. As they are already cooked what you are aiming at here is some colour on the meat. They will only take a few minutes per side.

Reheat the cabbage, I used cavolo nero, and macedoine in some butter.

While the legs and loin are resting, fry the kidneys and liver, if you have it, in the butter for about a minute or so. Don’t overcook.

Slice the loin. If the meat looks a bit underdone inside, quickly colour the slices in the frying pan.

Plating up is pretty straightforward. Cabbage first, then macedoine. Dress the cabbage with some of the gravy, then add the meats and the rest of the gravy. Make sure that the rear legs get nicely napped with the gravy.

I think you want a lighter red wine with this, or possibly a full-bodied white. We had a red Burgundy, a 2008 Santenay 1er Cru “Les Gravières” from Mestre Père et Fils.

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