French Country Rabbit
A polite young man came up to my Farmers Market booth over the summer and started asking about our pastured veal and Silver Fox rabbits. He clearly knew about food and had a fondness for the under appreciated parts that often taste the best when handled with skill. My strong hunch regarding his culinary training and inspiration was confirmed after a few minutes of conversation. Eric’s wanderlust led him to turns at some excellent farm-to-table restaurants in the Pacific Northwest and eventually pointed his steps back here to his beloved New England seacoast where he cooks for private clients. I was intrigued regarding his likely ability to help me expand my rabbit repertoire beyond my trusted braise / stew with mustard gravy. He left with some osso bucco and an invitation to come back for a free bunny on the house.
The following week he came back with a concept for an elegant dish that would contrast the lighter and richer flavors of lapin. I gave him one of my pastured Silver Foxes with the challenge of “doing something interesting with it”. He broke down the loin with belly meat still attached and made a roulade filled with offal pate. This is the epitome of classic French country style : Onion (or shallots) and garlic were browned gently in butter with thyme. Add heart, liver & kidneys and brown gently with splash of cognac.
Whip the organs in a food processor adding little dabs of butter added until it reaches desired creamy consistency. Place several neat compact spoonfuls of pate along the meat set on some nice sorrel or spinach leaves. Roll the whole business up and sprinkle with pepper and a few drops of fish sauce. Place on bacon strips which do magical wonders for the lean rabbit and roll this up into a neat package. Place in plastic bag and suck out the air manually or mechanically with a Food Saver. Place the evacuated bag in immersion circulator (sous vide) for 18 minutes at 147 degrees.
Alternately, you could poach the bag in hot water to bring meat up to temp while keeping it moist. Return the meat back into cast iron pan to brown gently along with carrots that have been roasting until bacon is almost crispy. Slice and serve over mixed greens.
I am excited to work with Eric on other exciting dishes to share with our Farmers Market friends this fall. Upcoming efforts will involve beef cheek carnitas and a spicy goat curry with coconut milk. Thank you for supporting local agriculture and livestock production.