Classic French rabbit in Dijon mustard sauce, or Lapin à la moutarde.
You will probably get the kidneys with your rabbit. It is your choice whether to keep them or not. I always do, and I think they are the second-best part of the animal after the hind legs. Rabbit kidneys are mild in flavor and are a warm, soft, rabbity morsel in this dish. If you choose to use them, strip off all the fat, as well as the gossamer membrane that surrounds them.
- 1 rabbit, cut into serving pieces (see How to cut up a rabbit)
- 4 tablespoons butter
- 2 large shallots, chopped
- 1/2 cup white wine
- 1/2 cup water
- 1/2 cup grainy country mustard, like Dijon
- 1 teaspoon dried thyme
- 1/2 cup heavy cream
- 4 tablespoons finely chopped parsley
1 Salt your rabbit pieces well and set aside at room temperature for 30 minutes to an hour.
2 Heat the butter over medium heat in a large sauté pan with a lid. Pat the rabbit pieces dry and brown them in the butter. Do this at a moderate pace – you don’t want the butter to scorch – and don’t let the rabbit pieces touch each other. Do it in batches if you need to.
Once the rabbit is browned, remove it to a bowl. Add the shallot and brown it well. This will take 3-4 minutes.
3 Pour in the white wine and turn the heat to high. Scrape off any browned bits on the bottom of the pan with a wooden spoon. Add the mustard, thyme and water and bring to a rolling boil. Taste the sauce for salt and add some if needed.
4 Add the rabbit pieces, coat them with the sauce, then drop the heat to low. Cover and simmer gently for 45 minutes. You want the meat to be nearly falling off the bone. It might need more time, but should not need more than an hour total. Wild rabbits sometimes need more time.
5 When the meat is ready, gently remove it to a platter. Turn the heat to high and boil the sauce down by half. Turn off the heat and add the cream and parsley. Stir to combine and return the rabbit to the pan. Coat with the sauce and serve at once.
Serve this dish with crusty bread and a big white wine, such as a white Bordeaux, white Cotes du Rhone blend or a buttery California Chardonnay. If you prefer beer, try pairing this with an unfiltered wheat beer.
Yield: Serves 4.