09 April 2009

Rabbit with Mustard


I feel slightly guilty posting this recipe a few days before Easter.  As you probably know, Easter is not only associated with Jesus' resurrection, but also with the Easter bunny.  The Easter bunny brings and hides colored eggs for children to find and here I am, serving it up for them!  To appease my guilt over serving this fantastic dish just a few days before Easter, I did a little digging over the origins of the Easter bunny.

It seems that in early Christian days, when missionaries were trying to spread the Christian message covertly for fear of persecution for themselves and their new converts, there was already a pagan festival in place around the time that the Christians celebrated the resurrection.  This pagan festival honored Eostre, the goddess of spring and the renewal of Earth's fertility.  Her symbol was the rabbit, which was one of the most fertile animals known.  In order to protect the new Christians, missionaries encouraged them to celebrate the pagan festivals in Christian ways, thus, the rise of the Easter bunny.

Even after knowing that the symbol of the Easter bunny had its origins in pagan times, my guilt still weighed heavily upon me until I read that rabbit has lower fat and higher protein than chicken.  Also, the fact that my children were excited to eat rabbit assuaged my guilt almost completely, and the kicker, that it was so wonderful, finally had me guilt free.

This recipe again was modified from Simple to Spectacular by Jean-Georges Vongerichten and Mark Bittman.  I served it with a simple dish of roasted asparagus, mashed potatoes with mustard and crunchy shallots, and a raspberry sorbet with thai chilis and lemon.  A perfect, Sunday lunch, aside from the slight guilt of eating a rabbit so close to Easter.

Rabbit with mustard adapted from Simple to Spectacular

Ingredients:

2 Tbls. olive oil
3 Tbls. unsalted butter
One 2-3 pound rabbit cut into 6 pieces
Head of garlic (about 10 cloves) peeled and slightly crushed
3/4 tsp. dried thyme
Salt and pepper to taste
20 pearl onions, peeled
1/2 c. dry white wine
1 c. dijon mustard
2 c. bread crumbs
1 Tbls. sherry vinegar
Parsley for garnish

Directions:

1.  Pre-heat the oven to 400 degrees.  In a large, oven-safe skillet, add the olive oil and butter and heat over medium heat until the butter is melted.  Add the rabbit pieces and turn the heat to high.  When rabbit starts to brown, flip it over and add to the skillet the garlic cloves, thyme, and salt and pepper to taste.  When the rabbit is nicely browned on both sides, add the pearl onions and place the skillet in the pre-heated oven for 15 minutes.
2.  Remove all pieces of meat from the skillet, except for the legs, and place them on a baking sheet.  Add the wine to the skillet, place it over medium-high heat, and scrape up all of the browned bits on the bottom with a wooden spoon.  When the bits are all scraped up, place the skillet back into the oven for an additional 10 minutes.
3.  In the meantime, coat the pieces of rabbit on the baking tray in mustard, then dip them in the bread crumbs to coat both sides.  Place the pieces back on the baking tray.  When the legs have cooked the additional 10 minutes, remove them from the skillet as well, coat in mustard and then in bread crumbs.  Turn on the broiler, place the rabbit pieces on the baking sheet a good 6 inches away from the broiler, and broil until lightly browned on both sides, flipping once.
4.  Strain the cooking liquid from the skillet into a small saucepan.  Add the sherry vinegar and bring to a boil.  Spoon some of the sauce onto each of the plates and top with a piece of rabbit.  Garnish with a bit of parsley and serve.

31 comments:

T.W. Barritt at Culinary Types said...

Easter is all about losing the guilt! So don't worry - this dish is a celebration! Thanks for the history on this most famous of bunnies - I never knew the story behind the legend.

Netts Nook said...

Oh that looks delish. I have had before and loved it, but can't seem to find a ribbit to even buy thanks for sharing.

Robin Sue said...

And we have eaten Bambi too! Looks so good. I have never had rabbit and look forward to trying it someday. Great history lesson too, we forget sometimes how things like the Easter bunny come about!

Trish said...

Hee hee...you are so funny! Slightly guilty! Well...I must say...I have only made rabbit once....it went over well with the hubby but having had pets...well, you can guess the major guilt this one had. This looks like a great recipe though AND...you are right...it is good for you. Finding rabbit is hard in my area though.

burpandslurp said...

wow, I thought it was brave of you to post a rabbit recipe so close to Easter!
I've only ever tried rabbit once. it was done the szechuan way in a spicy sauce. it was kinda tough, though, probably because of its lean meat.

Heather said...

what an interesting history post! i had rabbit a lot in italy when i was living there, and adored it. but i've never been able to find it here...

have you ever had kangaroo? it's delicious. with a pistachio crust and a little honey port reduction. yum.

Sarah Herman said...

rabbit is so good. However now that my children have them as pets I just can't eat it anymore! :( The recipe does look fantastic though :)

Bob said...

I've never had rabbit (my girlfriend won't touch it), but I really want to. That looks awesome!

Chef E said...

We love rabbit in this house! With mustard that sounds divine! Greg over at sippitysup.com has been doing mustard posts, and I have to try this and his mustard recipe. Hubby might laugh if I served this Sunday :)

Jescel said...

I've heard that rabbits are delicious but i haven't tried it. i dont know if i could eat them either.. maybe, if i didn't know it was rabbit :o( did your children know they were eating their easter "bunny"? LOL...

Tangled Noodle said...

Easter Bunny, Bessie and Wilbur - I'll eat 'em all! (Oh, that makes me sound so awful, doesn't it?) But really, this is a wonderful dish - rabbit is an underrated and underutilized but incredibly delicious meat.

Elra said...

What a classic and delicious way to cook rabbit.
Cheers,
elra

Rosa's Yummy Yums said...

A very insightful post! I love to eat my bunny with mustard! Yummy!

Happy Easter!

Cheers,

Rosa

Foodycat said...

I've got some rabbit in the freezer - I should try this dish with it!

Wandering Coyote said...

I've never had rabbit but would love to try it!

Calm In The Kitchen said...

I love this recipe! I can't wait to try it.

;) amy

Donna-FFW said...

Ive never had rabbit but Id like to try it after seeing your post.

Lori Lynn said...

I've been traveling so I haven't been able to easily visit my favorite blogs. I love love love your new look.

We made our first rabbit dish a short while ago, and were impressed, I look forward to more.
LL

Reeni♥ said...

Here comes Peter Cottontail, hoping down the bunny trail hippoty-hop right into my Stew pot! Ha,ha I couldn't resist. How great thay your kids weren't bothered by it. I think that is so cool that they are so open to trying new things. Thanks for sharing the details behind the Easter bunny.

My Carolina Kitchen said...

I'm so glad you made the rabbit with the mustard sauce from Simple to Spectacular. That is a fabulous cookbook. I've also made the rabbit Chausser (with mushrooms) out of that same book and it's delicious too. I'm curious, how did your son like it? If I remember correctly, he was the one who wanted the lapin (rabbit).
Happy Easter to you and your family.
Sam

Jenn said...

I have never had rabbit. I've seen it in on various menus and I've always wanted to try it.

Tasty wittle wascally wabbit.

Elyse said...

I never knew the history of the Easter bunny; how fascinating!! I've never tried rabbit before, but with less fat and more protein than chicken, how could I not try it? Plus, your recipe sounds delicious!

onlinepastrychef said...

Rabbit is good eatin', no matter the season. Whether or not it represents the pagan or Christian aspect of the festivities is irrelevant, especially when it's served coated w/mustard and bread crumbs! :)

Sheila said...

Wow, what a recipe! I,like some of the others who commented, have never had rabbit. I have trouble eating the lamb I make for my family, but this recipe sounds great!

MaryBeth said...

Happy Easter and don't worry too much about Mr. Rabbit cause he looks good. I have only eaten it once before and it did taste like chicken.

Sophie said...

MMMMMM...Delicious!! I love rabbit in anything!!

Purva Desai said...

That looks delish....that was an informative post

Sam said...

I really like rabbit, I don't understand why it's not more popular. This looks fabulous!

Stash said...

Looks great! I'm going to try to braise one this weekend. Peter is going down! =D

Cathy said...

I love rabbit with mustard and have a similar recipe. And don't feel bad about the Easter thing - a few years back I was entrusted with the family Easter dinner. Everyone got there and my younger brother asked what was for dinner if we weren't having turkey. He paled considerably at eating the Easter Bunny (he was 22 at the time). That was the same year I died cornish game hens green and put boots on them for St. Patricks day - everyone ate their own leprauchaun.

Peter M said...

Oh NO! Rabbit is even tastier around easter..love it!

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