I cannot remember for sure what my grandmother's rabbit recipe was (mustard sauce?).
This braised rabbit is actually quite easy to make in advance and serve with either pasta, polenta, or gnocchi. Be sure to pay close attention and don’t overcook the rabbit. Once the meat is fork tender, remove it from the pot, or it can become stringy.
3 fresh rabbits
Freshly ground black pepper
1/4 cup olive oil
1 onion, diced
1 head garlic, halved crosswise
1 tablespoon tomato paste
1 cup sliced fresh wild mushrooms
1 stalk celery, diced
Leaves from 1 sprig fresh thyme
Leaves from 1 sprig fresh sage, minced
1 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
1/4 teaspoon fennel seed
1 bay leaf
5 large tomatoes, blanched, peeled, cored, and diced
1 cup white wine
2 quarts Basic Chicken Stock (page 13)
1 quart Basic Veal Stock (page 14)
12 small carrots, peeled
3 tablespoons butter
Using a cleaver or a large sharp knife, quarter the rabbits. Season them with salt and pepper. Heat the olive oil in a large, wide heavy-bottomed pot over medium-high heat and, working in batches, sear the rabbit until golden brown on all sides. When it’s browned, transfer the rabbit to a bowl.
Add the onions and garlic to the pan and cook until golden brown, 5–10 minutes. Reduce the heat to moderate and stir in the tomato paste. Cook for 5 minutes, then add the mushrooms, celery, thyme, sage, pepper flakes, fennel seed, and bay leaf. Cook the vegetables for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Add the tomatoes, wine, Chicken Stock, Veal Stock, and carrots to the pan. Increase the heat to high and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium-low and return the rabbit and any accumulated juices to the pan. Cover the pan and cook the rabbit until it is fork tender and the meat nearly falls from the bone, 45 minutes to 1 hour.
Using a slotted spoon, carefully transfer the rabbit, carrots, and garlic to a bowl and set aside. Increase the heat to high and let the liquid in the pan boil off until it has reduced by half, 15–20 minutes.
Reduce the heat to medium-low. Stir the butter into the pan and season the sauce with salt and pepper. Return the rabbit, carrots, and garlic to the pan and let them warm through before serving.
(* Recipe and illustration reproduced by permission of Andrews McMeel Publishing)