Photo by Juta Kübarsepp for the November 2012 issue of Kodu ja Aed magazine.
It's snowing outside, and once again I'm craving something belly- and heart-warming. This braised rabbit with mustard sauce (lapin à la moutarde) hits the spot. Rabbit has become more easily available here in Estonia for an average shopper (read: you can get it vacuum-packed in your local supermarket), and this rabbit stew with a creamy mustard sauce is an excellent way of cooking rabbit.
The recipe is French-inspired and adapted from Anthony Demetre, the chef patron at the London restaurants Arbutus, Wild Honey and Les Deux Salons; more specifically, from his book Today's special: A new take on bistro food - Recipes from Arbutus and Wild Honey. Demetre uses rabbit legs, but for a home cook, using a whole rabbit makes much more sense - and is much more economical, of course.
It's my favourite way of cooking and serving rabbit - I included the recipe in my first cookbook, as well as in the November 2012 issue of Kodu ja Aed magazine. You can braise this one on the stovepot or bake in the oven - the choice is yours.
Braised rabbit with mustard
Serves four to six
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
75 g butter
75 ml white wine vinegar (5 Tbsp)
3 Tbsp good Dijon mustard
500 ml (2 cups) hot chicken stock
200 ml double or whipping or heavy cream
1 Tbsp dried oregano
1 tsp smoked paprika powder (pimentón de la Vera)
1 tsp finely chopped fresh rosemary
5 garlic cloves
2 bay leaves
If braising the rabbit in the oven, then pre-heat the oven to 200 C/400 F.
Cut the rabbit into serving pieces (here's a photo of me tackling another rabbit, I usually end up with two shoulders, two legs, two belly flap pieces, 2 saddles; I throw the rib cage into the stew as well to give extra flavour, but I don't eat it; here's Hank Shaw's very detailed step-by-step guide, which I find a wee bit over-complicated, but perhaps the rabbits here and there are somewhat different :); and finally, here's Saveur's guide).
Season the meat with salt and pepper.
Take a heavy saucepan or Dutch oven or casserole dish. Melt the butter, then brown the meat pieces on all sides (you'll need to do that in 2-3 instalments probably). Remove the browned pieces and put aside.
Pour the wine vinegar into the saucepan, bring to the boil and reduce by half. Add the rest of the ingredients, bring into the boil again. Season to taste with salt and pepper, then return the browned rabbit pieces into the saucepan again.
Once again, bring into the boil, cover tightly with the lid and transfer into the pre-heated oven. Cook for about 1,5 hours, until the meat falls off the bone.
(If you opt for stove-top braising, then simmer over moderately low heat, covered, until the meat falls off the bone).
Serve with seasonal vegetables.
Hank Shaw's rabbit in mustard sauce @ Simply Recipes
Raymond Blanc's braised rabbit with mustard @ BBC Food
Rabbit cooked with Dijon mustard @ Saveur
Rabbit with mustard @ Gourmet Traveller WINE
Mustard rabbit @ The Evening Hérault
Rabbit in mustard sauce @ French cooking for Dummies
Rabbit in mustard cream @ Lindaraxa
Home Cuisine: French Recipes: Chicken/Poultry Recipes: Red Meat Braised rabbit with mustard (lapin à la moutarde)