Braised Rabbit with Mustard and Summer Savory
- ACTIVE: 50 MIN
- TOTAL TIME: 2 HR
- SERVINGS: 12 servings as part of a large menu
Christophe Emé's mother, Maryvonne, raised rabbits and ducks as well as chickens in their backyard. He remembers her getting up at 7 a.m. to feed them every morning before going to work, and then feeding them again when she got home. She sold most of the animals to friends, but saved a few for special occasions, to prepare rustic dishes like this succulent rabbit simmered with tomatoes, mustard and lots of onion, shallots and garlic, which cook down to make a wonderful sauce.
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- Two 4-pound rabbits (see Note)
- Salt and freshly ground pepper
- 6 summer savory sprigs
- 4 thyme sprigs
- 1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
- 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 12 whole garlic cloves
- 3 large shallots, minced
- 1 medium onion, chopped
- 1 cup dry white wine
- 2 large tomatoespeeled, seeded and chopped
- 1 quart chicken stock
- 1 cup heavy cream
- Cut each rabbit into 6 pieces: 2 hind legs, 2 front legs, 1 neck and 1 loin with flaps attached. Season the rabbit with salt and pepper. Press 2 savory sprigs and 2 thyme sprigs on the underside of each loin and fold the flaps over them; secure with toothpicks. Spread the mustard all over the pieces of rabbit.
- In a very large enameled cast-iron casserole, melt 2 tablespoons of the butter in 2 tablespoons of the olive oil. Add 4 of the rabbit pieces and cook over moderately high heat until browned on the bottom, about 2 minutes. Turn the pieces and cook over moderate heat until browned, about 3 minutes. Transfer to a large bowl. Repeat in 2 batches with the rest of the rabbit pieces, adding the remaining 1 tablespoon each of butter and olive oil to the casserole for the last batch.
- Add the garlic, shallots and onion to the casserole and cook over moderately low heat, stirring occasionally, until softened, about 8 minutes. Add half of the wine and boil over moderately high heat, scraping up any bits stuck to the bottom of the casserole, until reduced by half, about 4 minutes. Repeat with the remaining wine. Add the tomatoes, stock and the remaining 2 savory sprigs. Nestle the rabbit pieces in the casserole and bring to a simmer. Cover and cook over low heat, turning the rabbit pieces a few times, until the meat is tender, about 1 hour.
- Transfer the rabbit pieces to a bowl. Boil the cooking liquid over high heat until reduced to 5 cups, about 15 minutes. Discard the savory sprigs. Add the heavy cream and boil until thickened, about 5 minutes. Season the sauce with salt and pepper. Return the rabbit to the casserole and simmer for a few minutes to heat through, then serve.