Happy New Year, dear readers! Can you believe the holidays have come and gone? I honestly still cannot wrap my head around it. I only realized Christmas was approaching about 10 days before! I am going to just blame it on the sunny CA weather 🙂 Thank God for Amazon Prime and craft businesses dedicated to the satisfaction of their customers, otherwise Santa wouldn’t have made it! The beginning of the cold weather in Chicago was always an indication of the approaching holidays. Dreams of sipping hot cocoa or mulled wine while cooking and enjoying the snowy views from the warmth of my apartment on the holiday days off, was what made the cold more bearable. In Los Angeles, that was not necessary this year as the temperature spiked to 80F on Christmas day, so we spent the day as you may expect, at the beach! 🙂 The dolphins were enjoying either the weather or the weekday traffic, and they put up quite a show splashing around close to the shore!
What more can one want on Christmas day? Oh, right, dinner 🙂 We already had a bunny chillin’ in the freezer so I decided to make Julia Child’s stewed rabbit. The first time I made it, a few years ago for Thanksgiving, finding the recipe was quite the struggle! It turned out that it wasn’t in Volume 1 of Mastering the Art of French Cooking, and nowhere to find on google! After a trip to the local Borders, before they closed down, revealed the recipe in Volume 2! This again is a multiple pots recipe, but it wasn’t too bad. Rabbit tastes at its best when it’s running in the wild enjoying itself, but I am not sure where you could find one of those, so we had to settle for second best, slightly chicken-tasting farmed rabbit! Still, the sauce is so flavorful that it makes up for the shortcomings of the farmed rabbit.
When I was a kid, we used to have roasted rabbit almost weekly since my grandfather was raising them. It took me quite a few years before I realized that I was eating one of the cute bunnies I was playing with! Eventually, my grandfather got rid of the rabbits and now we only indulge occasionally. I keep reading that it’s good for kids to hang out with animals and see where their food comes from, but if my experience is the norm, trust me they won’t make the connection until older! Not to mention, my parents were pros at making up stories about where the food came from. My sister kept threatening to become a vegetarian after we’ve eaten too many of her favorite hens, but my mom tricked her quite a few times. I mean, how can you tell that the piece of featherless chicken in your soup came from your favorite hen when your mom promises she’s out there happily laying eggs?
Recipe notes: Rabbit has to be marinated for at least 24 hrs so plan accordingly. Rabbit might look quite similar to the cute little bunnies when defrosted, so be prepared for this!
Ingredients (~4 servings):
- 1/2 cup red wine vinegar
- 1/2 tsp pepper
- 3 Tb olive oil
- 1/2 cup chopped onion
- 2 garlic cloves, smashed
- 4 juniper berries
- 1/2 tsp oregano
- 1-2 bay leaves
- 1/2 tsp thyme, chopped
- 1 rabbit, cut-up
- 4 oz bacon
- 2 Tb olive oil
- 1 cup chopped onions
- 3 Tb flour
- 1 bottle of whine (I used Cotes-du-Rhone)
- 2 cups chicken stock
- tenderized prunes: 20 prunes, 1/4 cup cognac, 1/2 cup stock, 2 Tb butter
Cut up the rabbit. I am not an expert, but basically you have to remove the legs, rib, loin, and then cut the loin and the rib in two. The ribs don’t have much meat, but I still use them for flavoring the sauce. Place the rabbit pieces in a large casserole. Mix the marinade ingredients in a bowl.
Pour the marinade over the rabbit. Cover the bowl, refrigerate, and baste/flip the rabbit in the marinade occasionally. Marinate for ~ 24 hrs.
When you’re ready to cook the rabbit, start by pre-heating the oven to 450F. Remove rabbit pieces from the marinade (preserve the liquid) and pat dry with paper towels.
Heat a oven-proof casserole over medium heat. Brown the bacon in the olive oil. Add onions and cook until tender (5-10 min). Transfer bacon and onion to a bowl. Leave fat in the pan. Add more oil to cover the bottom if necessary. Brown the rabbit pieces on all sides, making sure you don’t get splashed with any of the hot oil! Season with salt.
Sprinkle half the flour. Shake. Sprinkle the remaining flour and shake again. You may want to move the rabbit pieces around if shaking is not enough to evenly distribute the flour.
Place the pan in the oven and brown the rabbit for 5 minutes. Toss rabbit and return to oven for an additional 5 minutes. Remove pan from oven and reduce oven temperature to 350F.
While the rabbit is browning, heat up a skillet on medium-high heat. Add the marinade and boil until almost all the liquid is gone. Add wine and reduce by half. Add the stock, bring to a boil, and then add to the casserole. Add the onion and bacon as well and stir until is all mixed.
Bring pot to simmer on the stove top and then move to the 350F oven. Stew for about 1 hour, or until the rabbit is tender.
When rabbit is close to being done, tenderize the prunes by simmering them in the cognac, stock, and butter, for about 10 minutes. This smelled so good, I almost wanted to be one of those prunes swimming in buttery cognac sauce 🙂
Remove rabbit pieces from the sauce and keep warm on a platter.
Remove bay leaves and bring the rabbit sauce to simmer. Skim off the fat. Boil down until you have about 2 cups of thick sauce. Add the prunes in their sauce and simmer for a few more minutes. Adjust seasoning.
Spoon sauce over rabbit pieces. Serve with your favorite sides (we had potatoes and brussels sprouts) and a glass of red wine!
This is a nice way of preparing the rabbit if you have the time. The sauce is delicious, and the prunes are to die for! Another great recipe from Julia Child 😉