Saute Rabbit


Recently my room mate (who likes to buy a lot of organic/super healthy stuff) has commissioned me to help her cook her rabbit meat. I’ve never eaten or cooked rabbit before, so of course I immediately thought it would be a really cool thing to cook and then blog about. The thing is, these furry lagomorphs clock in at roughly $8 per pound. The prospect of being allowed to cook something like this just sends chills up my spine, but the possibility of fucking up is also quite real.

So, saute rabbit. This is the cooking method I decided upon after much research on the subject of lagomorph cookery. It is a method suited for cooking a young, tender rabbit (or fryer rabbits). The recipe is lifted directly from Larousse Gastronomique (the bible for French cooking; 2004 First American Edition, page 375 of the Meat, Poultry and Game volume). Here is the exact text of the recipe:

Jesus fuck that's one tiny paragraph.

It’s the simplest recipe in the book for rabbit with the least amount of ingredients. From what I have read on rabbits from the internet, the flavor of the meat is somewhere between chicken and turkey. It certainly seems possible to re-create a cheaper version of this dish using chicken.

A NOTE BEFORE I BEGIN: I’M A TOTAL FUCKING NEWBIE AT FRENCH COOKING. I FOLLOW THE RECIPE TO THE BEST OF MY ABILITY USING WHAT I KNOW ABOUT COOKING MEAT. IF YOU’RE LOOKING AT MY PHOTOS AND THINK THAT IT LOOKS LIKE SHIT, PLEASE JUST FOLLOW THE RECIPE DIRECTLY WITHOUT GOING ALONG WITH WHAT I’M DOING.

Ingredients

Looks like dis wabbit is vewy vewy dead.

Total prep/cooking time: 25-30 minutes.

1.25 to 1.5 pounds (~600g) of rabbit
1/2 cup white wine
~2 tbsp lemon juice
2.5 tbsp butter, divided into 1.5 tbsp and 1 tbsp
4-5 tablespoons of stock*
1 small shallot
salt
pepper
parsley**

*The recipe did not specify what type of stock, so I assume any type is fine. I actually did not have any stock on hand, so I used the trimmings from the rabbit to create a tiny batch of makeshift stock.
**Italian parsley pictured, since it looked significantly fresher than the other parsley at the supermarket. You need only about 1/4 of what is pictured here.

Also worth noting is that this is a recipe for young rabbit. Do not use it for old rabbits or hare, which have a different type of meat.

Cooking

We start with the prep work as always. Give your parsley some gentle chopping and thinly slice your shallot. Roll your lemon around to loosen its juices for easy squeezing.

Bugs Bunny, rest in pieces. MUHAHAHA

Complement your dead animal matter with some dead plant matter. It'll taste better.

On the rabbit side of things, wash and rinse off your rabbit pieces. Trim off any excess fatty bits. Rabbits are quite lean so you shouldn’t have to cut off too much fat. Pat the pieces dry with a paper towel. This is important so that your pieces will brown while they saute instead of steam. Salt and pepper the pieces after you have pat them dry.

Meanwhile, prepare a lightly oiled, oven-safe vessel and pre-heat your oven to 200F. This step isn’t directly in the recipe, but the recipe did say to keep the rabbit warm once they are pulled off the saute pan, and the oven is my chosen receptacle for when the rabbit is finished sauteing.

Elmer Fudd can learn a thing or two from whoever killed this rabbit. No need to go digging for buckshot here.

Over medium-high heat in a non-stick saute pan, melt 1.5 tablespoons of butter. The butter should be smoking before you put the rabbit pieces into the pan. If you place your rabbit into the pan and do not immediately hear sizzling, take the rabbit out and let the pan heat up more.

Saute your rabbit pieces on one side until it is brown, then saute it on the other side. From hindsight, I think I did not completely brown the pieces thoroughly enough (it’s difficult to judge because the recipe did not provide pictures, but from the text it seems as if you are supposed to completely cook the rabbit through simply by sauteing. I had to finish cooking the rabbit in the oven at 300F for about 6 minutes). Cover your pan with a lid while sauteing to keep the heat from dissipating.

If you think about it, before a dish passes into the annals of history, it also had to pass through the anals of history.

When the rabbit is done, transfer the pieces into your oven-safe vessel and stick them into the oven for warm safe-keeping. Pour 1/2 cup of wine into your pan and dump in your chopped shallot. The wine should help loosen up all the stuck bits of meat, which will form the flavor base for the sauce.

Peering through the mists of time.

Keep the pan uncovered and boil away the wine until it is at almost nothing. Then, add your stock, and reduce again to a few tablespoons. At this point add your last tablespoon of butter along with a squeeze of lemon juice. Melt the butter until you get a congruous looking sauce.

When I die, I'll ask to have a sauce prepared like this one poured all over my dead body too.

Plate your rabbit. Pour the sauce over it and sprinkle on some parsley. Serve warm with potatoes or rice or salad or whatever constitutes a meal.

The Result

Don't think about Bugs Bunny. Don't think about Bugs Bunny. God dammit. Looks like he took the wrong turn at Albuquerque and ended up done like dinnah.

?? / 5 Well I didn’t eat it, I cooked it for someone else. This is what French cooking is about, right? Right? Oh, well. I should probably eat out more at restaurants that serve this type of thing so I know what I’m dealing with. There certainly is some appeal about this type of cooking: it is simple in principle and uses few ingredients, but the amount of depth, skill, and possibilities to master the dish is tremendous to behold. Here’s hoping it turns out good enough for me to have another chance at cooking something like this.

Conclusion

Learning to cook is both exciting and daunting. You can be putting your best foot forward at all times, yet never be satisfied with each dish you make, because you know the next time you make that dish, it will turn out even better. All you can do is continue trudging forward, and one day, sometime far in the future, you just might become a bad-ass cook.

Until next time, feel free to shoot the next furry bastard that crosses your path (unless it’s Robin Williams or something like that), because it’ll certainly be delicious. Happy cooking.

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