Saturday, January 19, 2013

About That Rabbit

Every family has their own Christmas tradition. Some people sing carols, some make a Christmas ham and my husband and I find something unique to cook.

This all started in 2010 when I went into Whole Foods looking for Cornish Hens and they were sold out. As I started looking for a replacement, I found a pheasant. In 2011, I made our first Christmas goose. I decided that 2012 would be the year of the rabbit.

Whole rabbits can be tricky to find, but through some research I discovered that Balducci's market in McLean carries them. Thankfully, they had three in stock when I stopped by the weekend before Christmas.

Rabbit tends to be very lean and can be difficult to roast whole so most recipes will call for the rabbit to be cut into pieces for more even cooking which really limited my choices since I was hoping to cook it whole. I eventually found this interesting recipe from La Cucina Italiana for coniglio arrotolato, which is a stuffed roasted rabbit. This recipe used rabbit liver, prosciutto and marjoram.

I have been curious about butchery for a while after seeing French recipes that  involve deboning ducks. I thought that this was a great chance to try my hand at this new technique. Of course, like anyone nowadays, I turned to YouTube for a little instruction. I definitely did not debone my rabbit in 5 minutes, but this video was really helpful in giving me an idea what to do next.

From my first experience deboning an animal, I learned a few key things. Obviously, the right knife is critical. I would use a different and sharper knife next time. I also wasn't careful enough when trying to remove the spine and completely cut through the piece of meat. Finally, like anything practice makes perfect.

The Rabbit After I Removed the Bones

After removing the bones, I used my food processor to turn the gibblets into a puree with the marjoram. I unfortunately didn't realize until I had unpacked and pulled the organs out of the cavity that I didn't have all of the organs so I didn't have the same quantity as the recipe. Thankfully the organ meat and prosciutto still added a lot of flavor to the finished product, but I will either track down a rabbit with all the organs or purchase extra chicken livers to add next time.

The Rabbit After I Spread the Ground Organ Meat and Covered it with Prosciutto
 After rolling the rabbit back up, I placed it on a bed of fennel and onions to bake and braised it periodically with a white italian wine.

The Rolled Rabbit Roasting on a Fennel and Onion Bed

The finished product was pretty impressive. After letting it rest, I served it with this mushroom risotto that was delicious and sauteed carrots. Would I do it all again? Yes, without a doubt. This was definitely a Christmas dinner that I will never forget.

The Sliced Rabbit Ready to Serve
Rabbit, Mushroom Risotto and Carrots

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