my aunt and uncle have been keeping rabbits ever since i can remember. my aunt cooks it like no one else. she makes unbelivable stews and roasts after marinating the meat for days. her recipes always yield a moist, lean meat, juicy and so flavorful. and i haven't had any since i switched continents. deciding enough is enough, i got one, proceeded to hack it in pieces, and called my aunt to ask what next. of course that's the moment my service provider must act up and refuse to connect anywhere in europe. delightful. no biggie, says i, i'll just marinate it according to julia, and in those 3 days i'll reach my aunt. after 3 days of futile dialing (and the destructive behaviour my phone has had to endure as a result) i switched providers. went over to an uk based company. it works just fine now, but of course by the time the change took effect the rabbit had to be cooked. did not really have a choice but to continue with julia child's recipe.
i adore julia, but this dish cannot hold a candle to my aunt's stew. the meat was juicy and tender, no doubt, but see those lemon slices in the pot? they lend a bitter theme to the dish. if you enjoy a salad of endive and radicchio this will be right up your alley, but for me it lessened the experience. i'd have enjoyed a clean citrus tone a lot more. easily fixed if next time i leave out the lemon slices.
ragout de lapin au citron
adapted from julia child
for the marinade:
one rabbit, cut up
8 garlic cloves, peeled and quartered
3 medium onions, finely sliced
2 medium carrots, sliced
1/3 cup olive oil
1 ts whole-grain mustard
1 lemon, zest minced and juice strained
2 bay leaves
1 rosemary sprig
2 thyme sprigs
1/2 ts salt
mix everything up in a bowl or ziploc bag, then add the rabbit pieces and turn them around so they're covered in the marinade. refrigerate for up to three days, turning them over several times each day. when you're ready to cook it, scrape the marinade off, give it a quick rinse in cold water if it's stubborn and then dry it with paper towels.
for browning and roasting:
2 slices pancetta, cubed (julia says salt pork, but who has that on hand?)
about 1/2 cup flour
2 cups veal or chicken stock
preheat oven to 375F. in a wide, tall skillet heat up a bit of oilve oil. fry the pancetta until crisp, then remove to paper towel to blot excess fat. dredge the rabbit through the flour and sear it on both sides in the rendered fat. be sure it's very hot before you put it in, and don't crowd the pan. remove to side dish. strain the marinade - reserve liquid, and add the vegetables to the hot fat. brown veggies lightly. turn them in a sieve to discard excess fat. now put veggies, rabbit and pancetta in an oven-proof skillet. add the marinade liquid. (at this point you're instructed to lace the dish with one thinly sliced lemon, to each his own!) pour enough stock to barely cover the meat. bring to simmer, taste for salt and put it in the oven. when it's happily bubbling away reduce heat to 325F and let cook about 1 hour, maybe up to 1 1/2 hours. turn and baste every now and then, and do check the meat 50 minutes in. you want tender, but not so much that it falls apart. you can also simmer this on the stove the same amount of time. skim any accumulated fat off the surface.
according to julia, you're supposed to have sauce in the pan by this time. my veggies remained surprisingly intact, so i removed the herbs and the lemon slices and i gave it a go with my immersion blender, then cooked it a little longer with a knob of butter before returning the meat to it. not a bad dish, but my rabbit craving is still unscathed.