Hello all you cool cats and kittens!
I would like to give a disclaimer at the top of this post. I wrote the By The Numbers review for Alice many months ago, and therefore have many gifs and pictures that I have in my database, including several from the incomparable Carol Channing, from a 1985 miniseries involving a cavalcade of 70s celebrities. They may pop up here, but do not adjust your screen. It’s on purpose.
I know I say this all the time, but this recipe was really one of the first that I thought of when brainstorming this entire endeavor. However, it was also one that I knew would be labor intensive, so I kept putting it off week after week. Because I kept putting it off, I had a lot of time to think and rethink. As I now find myself with a lot of time on my hands, I (with a gentle push from my awesome spouse) decided to finally just go for it, and I’m so happy I did.
There were actually so many ideas here that it was a bit overwhelming, but I knew I wanted to start off with the basis of rabbit. Fortunately, I found rabbit at a store in town. Unfortunately, it was whole rabbits, so I found myself in the situation of having to break down an animal. There is only one unit of culinary school that I struggled with, and it was definitely butchering. This animal is fairly small, and therefore has small bones. I cut off the legs and then filleted the saddles away from the rib cage. I used the remaining bones to create a simple rabbit stock, but if you’re buying pre-butchered rabbit, you can definitely use chicken stock in this recipe.
After pounding out the saddle, I stuffed it with pork sausage and fresh sage and then rolled and tied it with butcher’s twine that I was given free of charge at the grocery store (shout out to the guy at the butcher counter when I asked what aisle it was in). The roulade had a spiral to it, to represent the fall down the rabbit hole. I set aside the front and hind legs for braising, which is a style of cooking where you brown something and then finish it slowly in liquid. I chose braising because it takes a longer time (I’m late! (geddit??)), and it is a great way of cooking a lean meat like rabbit without it drying out.
To accompany the rabbit, I chose a mushroom-laden dressing, created with lots of fresh sage and sourdough bread. Mushrooms are a pretty obvious ingredient to include, just like the rabbit. This dressing is earthy and full of flavor.
Another ingredient I knew I wanted to include was tea, to represent the crazy Mad Hatter and March Hare. I made a blackberry compote with honey, lemon and Earl Grey tea in it, to add a sweet and acidic balance to the heavy braised meat and sauce.
To add more flavor and texture, I pan roasted carrots, onions, and celery together in browned butter, before folding in baby arugula to add a peppery flare and added texture.
Tying everything together, I created a dijon thyme gravy with rabbit stock and lots of white wine. In fact, you will find as you read the recipe that almost every component of this recipe has white wine in it. This is partially because I wanted to add a ‘mood altering’ ingredient to this dish to represent that aspect of this story. It’s also used because….wine is tasty and adds a lot of flavor into cooking.
Roasted Rabbit With Mushroom Dressing, Sauteed Carrots & Arugula
-Served with Thyme Gravy and Blackberry Tea Compote
Servings: 2-4 Servings
Prep Time: 2 Hours
Cook Time: 2 Hours
Sausage-Stuffed Rabbit Roulade
2 Rabbit loins
1/2 lb pork sausage
6 leaves fresh sage
Pound out rabbit thinly with a mallet. I always do this in between two layers of plastic wrap to keep from messy splatter. Lay the loins outside down and then spread a layer of sausage on the meat and top with leaves of sage. Starting with the back, roll the entire loin toward you in one piece, making sure to keep it tight as you go. Place the finished roulade on your cutting board with the seam side down, allowing the roulade to stay together. Carefully tie off the roulade with butcher’s twine.
Braised Rabbit Legs
4 Rabbit Legs
Salt and Pepper
4 T Vegetable Oil
8 cups rabbit stock
Season the rabbit legs with salt and pepper. Place the oil in a cast iron skillet. Once it is hot, place the rabbit legs and the roulade in the pan. Cook the legs and roulade until they are brown and crispy. Add the stock to the cast iron pan and then cover the pan with foil and place in a 350 degree oven and braise for one hour. Pull the cast iron skillet out of the oven and leave to cool with the foil on for 15 minutes.
Earl Grey Blackberry Compote
1 cup blackberries
1/4 c dry white wine
2 T honey
Zest of one lemon
2 T earl grey tea leaves
Place all the ingredients in a small saucepan and simmer until thickened. Blend in food processor and then strain. Set the sauce aside until you are ready to serve.
4 cups dried bread crumbs
2 cups mushrooms, finely chopped
2 T butter
1/4 cup white wine
1 clove garlic, finely chopped
8 leaves fresh sage, finely chopped
2 cups rabbit stock
Place the mushrooms and garlic in a saute pan with butter and wine and cook them together, stirring frequently, until the mushrooms have cooked down and absorbed their own liquid. Stir in the bread crumbs, cold rabbit stock, and one whisked egg. Move into well-greased casserole dish. Cover and bake at 350 degrees for 45 minutes. Remove the lid and continue to bake until the top is crispy. Keep warm until you are ready to serve.
Sauteed Carrots and Arugula
1 cup celery, chopped
1/2 cup yellow onion, chopped
3 cups carrots, sliced
1 clove garlic, chopped
3 T butter
2 cups baby arugula
1 T lemon zest
1 T balsamic reduction
Melt butter in saute pan and then continue to cook to until the butter begins to brown. This will add a nuttiness to the overall flavor of the vegetables. Add in the carrots, celery, onion, and garlic, and stir to coat them in the butter. Cook the mixture slowly over low heat until the carrots are tender. Stir in the fresh baby arugula and lemon zest. Drizzle the vegetables with the balsamic reduction and keep them warm until you are ready to serve.
2 T butter
2 T flour
6 cups rabbit stock
2 T dijon mustard
1/2 c white wine
Fresh thyme leaves
Melt the butter in a saute pan. Whisk in the flour and continue to cook until it forms a paste. Add in the rabbit stock, white wine, and dijon mustard and allow to simmer until thickened. Stir in the fresh thyme leaves and keep warm until you are ready to serve.
This was a very satisfying plate of food to eat. While it seems intimidating, it ended up tasting like Thanksgiving. And that’s always a good thing.