April 30, 2010

Roasted Mustard Rabbit

We'd been wanting to cook rabbit at home ever since we attended the last Iron Chef class at Kitchen Conservatory. That night pitted chefs Josh Galliano of Monarch & Kevin Nashan of Sidney Street Cafe against food blogger Bill Burge and chef Chuck Friedhoff of Persimmon Woods Golf Course.

The secret ingredient, which neither team knew of ahead of time, was rabbit. I'd never eaten rabbit before and was surprised by how much I liked it. Our only hesitation in cooking it at home was finding the rabbit to cook.  Luckily, we bribed our friend Justin (who operates Yellow Tree Farm) with a free oven. In return, he gave us one of his rabbits.

Thankfully, Justin had already skinned, cleaned, and cut the rabbit into four pieces. We chose a fairly classic recipe--roasted rabbit with mustard--but were hesitant about it turning out. The marinade was thick and didn't seem like it would cook up well (the recipe says to cook the rabbit with all its marinade). However, the rabbit turned out tender, flavorful, & perfectly delicious.

If you've never eaten rabbit before, don't be scared. It is very similar to chicken, with a slightly sweeter taste (though not gamey). I highly recommend it!

Mustard Rabbit in the Oven
adapted from A Platter of Figs by David Tanis

1 rabbit, about 2 1/2  pounds, cut into four pieces
Kosher salt & freshly ground black pepper
1/8 cup Dijon mustard
1 teaspoon mustard seeds, crushed (optional)
1 cup sour cream or Creme Fraiche
4 garlic cloves, sliced
1/4 pound thick-sliced bacon or pancetta, cut crosswise into 1/4" pieces
2 bay leaves
2 thyme branches
2 sage leaves, roughly chopped
1 cup dry white wine or chicken broth, if needed

  • Season the rabbit pieces generously with salt and freshly ground pepper and put them in a shallow baking dish just large enough to hold them in one layer. Add the mustard, mustard seeds, sour cream, garlic, bacon, bay leaves, thyme branches, & sage. With your hands, smear the ingredients all over the rabbit pieces to coat evenly. Cover and let the flavors meld for an hour or two, or overnight in the refrigerator. (Kelly's Note: We let the rabbit sit overnight.)
  • Take the dish out of the fridge & bring to room temperature.
  • Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
  • Bake the rabbit with its marinade on the middle oven shelf for about 45 minutes. The rabbit should be nicely browned and the juices quite reduced. (If the sauce seems too reduced, splash a little white wine or chicken broth into the bottom of the baking dish and cook for a few mintes longer.)

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