RABBIT IN CREAMY MUSTARD SAUCE
by Stefan Gates
The British are extremely sentimental about rabbits, so there's always an element of spectacle when they arrive at a table in the form of lunch, but across most of Continental Europe, rabbit is a highly prized dish and fetches a good price at the butcher shop. The reason for this contrast in attitudes is unclear—French kids love a cuddly lapin as much as English tykes. I think it's all down to Beatrix Potter, who so thoroughly anthropomorphizcd the rabbit that eating one is a bit like eating your childhood sweetheart. But, whatever the reason, the result is that Brits eat few rabbits now, so fewer are hunted and they are left to party on the juicy crops of this pleasant land.
Rabbits have little fat on them, so they are a healthy meat if you're feeling fulsome, (although this also means they can dry out if overcooked); they taste like slightly gamey chicken; they are cheap; and they have an unfamiliar bone structure if you're used to carving chicken, with quite a few little bones. Oh, and this recipe is also fantastic with chicken.
• 10 garlic cloves, roughly chopped
• 4 tablespoons Dijon mustard
• 2 tablespoons fresh thyme leaves
• 8 bay leaves
• salt and freshly ground black pepper
• 5 tablespoons olive oil
• 2 medium-size rabbits, each jointed into 4 legs and 3 or 4 sections of saddle
• 2 onions, finely sliced
• 1 cup heavy cream
• 1/3 cup white wine or chicken stock
• 1 teaspoon sugar
Preheat the oven to 375°F.
In a small bowl, mix together the garlic, mustard, thyme, bay leaves, salt and pepper, and 3 tablespoons of the olive oil. Rub this pungent mixture all over your rabbit pieces and lay them in a roasting pan. Bake uncovered for 25 minutes.
Meanwhile, put a frying pan over low to medium heat and add 2 tablespoons of olive oil and the onion. Fry gently until softened and translucent, then add the cream, wine or stock, and sugar to the pan and warm gendy over low heat. Remove the rabbit from the oven, stir the sauce and pour over the rabbit, making sure it's thoroughly coated, then return the pan to the oven for another 20 minutes.
Serve the rabbit with the sauce and some boiled potatoes, or if you're feeling fancy, a parsnip or celery root gratin.