At this time of year, when the leaves are falling and the sun rises well after your alarm clock has rung, we start changing our regular offerings here at the shop. We reduce the number of hanger steaks and pork kebabs, and bring in more beef cheeks, briskets, and whole pork shoulders. While these are very popular braising cuts, I’d like to take a moment to talk about a less common offering; the rabbit.
Rabbits are delicious, lean animals and their meat can be cooked in a variety of ways. The loin makes a great pan roast, the leg is succulent when roasted and served in a Madeira wine sauce. But since most people buy a whole rabbit, I wanted to write a recipe that made the most out of the whole thing. We used to braise the whole rabbit in my days cooking in restaurants, and customers loved it. Added bonus: it only takes an hour to cook!
Braised Rabbit with Potatoes and Green Olives
1 rabbit, cut into six (shoulders, loin, leg)
2 tbsp olive oil
1 medium onion, finely diced
1 stalk of celery, finely diced
1 medium carrot, peeled and finely diced
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 cup white wine
3 cups chicken stock
2 fresh bay leaves
6 thyme branches
4 medium yukon gold potatoes, peeled and sliced into ½ inch coins
4 plum tomatoes
12 large green olives with pit
1 tbsp unsalted butter, cold
1 tbsp parsley, cleaned and finely chopped
salt and pepper to taste
Preheat your oven to 350°F.
In a large braising pan over a medium heat, heat the olive oil.
Season the rabbit pieces with salt and pepper and brown in the pan. When golden all over, remove from the pan.
Reduce the heat slightly then add the onion to the pan and sweat, stirring frequently until slightly translucent.
Add the garlic, celery, carrots, bay leaves, and thyme to the pan. Stir frequently until all the vegetables have softened.
Place the rabbit back into the pan with the wine. Reduce the wine by half before adding the chicken stock. Bring to a simmer, cover, and place in the oven. Set a timer for 30 minutes.
Prep the tomatoes. Bring a pot of water to a boil. Score the tomatoes with a small “x” on the bottom end (not the core end). Fill a bowl with cold water and add a handful of ice. When the water is boiling, carefully drop the tomatoes into the water. After 10 seconds, use a slotted spoon to remove the tomatoes and place them in the ice water. When they are all cooled, take each tomato out of the ice water and peel them. Cut them all into quarters and remove the seeds. Set the tomatoes aside.
Prep the olives. Press down on the side of the olive until it cracks and you can get at the pit. Remove the pit and set the olive aside.
When the thirty-minute timer goes off, take the rabbit out of the oven and add the potato coins to the pan. Use tongs or a spoon to make sure the potatoes get submerged. Place the cover back on the pot and place back in the oven. Set timer for 15 minutes.
When the timer goes off, remove the pan from the oven and take off the lid to check the rabbit. The legs and shoulder should have a bit of give away from the bone. If satisfied with the “give” (you can always cook the rabbit for another ten minutes if the joints feel too tough), place the pan on a medium low heat on the stovetop. Using a pair of tongs or a slotted spoon, remove the rabbit and the potatoes and arrange nicely on a serving platter. Add the olives and tomatoes to the sauce and bring to a strong simmer for about five minutes, reducing the sauce. Turn the heat off and add the parsley and butter, stirring the butter into the sauce until it is velvety. Taste the sauce and adjust the salt and pepper levels to your liking. Pour the sauce over the rabbit and potatoes and serve immediately.