© Copyright 1995-2017, Clay Irving <email@example.com>, Manhattan Beach, CA USA
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Recipe from: Victor Sack, from La Bonne Cuisine de Madame E. Saint-Ange
Servings: 6 to 8
I have posted a few bunny recipes over the years and a couple of them were vaguely based on the idea of /gibelotte/, a old and popular French bunny stew recipe. This time, I decided to cook it as close to the classical way as possible and used a recipe from what may well be the best general cookbook of cuisine bourgeoise/bonne-femme, La Bonne Cuisine de Madame E. Saint-Ange. I include two variants below, of which I used the first one. The introduction is included, too.
I could not find small onions called for in the recipe, so used shallots. I did not have to kill my own bunny and skin it, etc. and so used domestic-bunny's legs/thighs (4 of them, weighing a bit over 1 kilo/2.4 pounds, adjusting the amounts of the other ingredients accordingly) instead. The results were very good indeed.
This is a simple rabbit ragût, which can be varied depending on the circumstances and, above all, the kind of rabbit: the recipe is equally good for a wild rabbit as a domestic rabbit.
A classic /gibelotte/ includes a garnish of lardons, mushrooms, and small onions; a spicy seasoning; white wine. It is primarily used for wild rabbit, but it is also appropriate for the domestic rabbit. Also classic, but not appropriate for a domestic rabbit, is the home-style recipe in which potatoes replace the mushrooms and the garnish. And in this case, red wine, not white wine, is used.
Always use a young rabbit so that it will be tender. Avoid the rather popular mistake of overcooking the rabbit, the idea being that if it is not well done, it will remain tough. However, too much cooking makes the flesh stringy and flabby without tenderizing it.
A domestic rabbit that has almost reached full growth weighs around 2 kilograms (4 pounds, 6 ounces) gross. The trimmings represent nearly 40 percent of this weight, so the skinned and gutted beast weighs about 1 good kilogram (2 pounds, 3 ounces). The following recipe for rabbit cooked in wine is good for both categories of rabbit.
Time: 1 hour, 30 minutes (once the rabbit is ready to be cooked).
1 rabbit weighing (gross) 1.8-2 kilograms (4 pounds-4 pounds, 6 ounces).
40 grams (1⅜ ounces) of fresh grated lard, or 25 grams (1 ounce, 2 tablespoons) of butter and 2 tablespoons of oil
200 grams of lean bacon
15 small onions
200 grams (7 ounces) of mushrooms
30 grams (1 ounce) of flour
5 decilitres (generous 2 cups) of white wine
3 decilitres (1¼ cups) of bouillon
a bouquet garni with a generous quantity of thyme
1 piece of garlic the size of a pea (optional).
Skin and gut the rabbit, then carve it, as directed for a civet, into pieces that are not too large and as equal as possible, using a good sharp cleaver to avoid bone shards. Cut the bacon into cubes of 1 good centimetre (⅜ inch) on each side. Blanch them. Peel the small onions.
In a sauté pan or another utensil with a thick bottom, first heat the grated lard or the butter and the oil. Gently colour the cubes of bacon and colour the onions using moderate heat. Drain them on a plate. In the same fat heated again, put the pieces of rabbit seasoned with salt. Mix them constantly with the wooden spoon, keeping the pan on a strong heat until the flesh has firmed up and is a beautiful golden colour.
Sprinkle with the flour and mix it well. Immediately turn the heat down to allow the flour to gently cook for /about 10 minutes/ to turn golden blond. Add the white wine and bouillon, a good pinch of salt, and a pinch of pepper. Stir until it reaches a boil. Put in the bouquet garni and the crushed garlic. Put buttered parchment paper right on top of the pieces. Cover the pan. Put it in the oven, if possible, which should be just hot enough to maintain a gentle simmer.
At the end of a good half hour of cooking, add the lardons and the onions to the rabbit, which you have prepared at the beginning. At the same time, add the mushrooms, cleaned and simply cut into 2 or 3 according to their size. Push them down completely into the sauce. Continue cooking for another good half hour.
Completely and thoroughly degrease. Take out the bouquet. Pour the rabbit cooked in wine into a shallow round bowl or another serving dish. Serve boiling hot.
Gibelotte Ménagère (Home-Style Rabbit Cooked in Wine)
The quantities and procedures are the same as for the stew in wine. The difference is that you omit the mushrooms and then add 500 grams (1 pound, 2 ounces) of potatoes for 1 kilogram (2 pounds, 3 ounces) of rabbit.
The potatoes are cut into pieces the size of a walnut and rounded off at the corners. You can add them to the rabbit at the same time as the small onions, pushing them well down into the sauce at the end of a half hour of cooking. Continue cooking for another good half hour.
To serve: Dress the pieces of rabbit into a pyramid and surround them with the potatoes and onions.