Years ago, I asked Michelin-starred Chef Dominique Crenn what dish she was most proud of. She said rabbit with mushrooms, the way her mother made it.
I never did get her recipe, but I love rabbit, and love mushrooms, so here is my take on a dish I imagine Chef Crenn might like.
This dish celebrates the onset of cooler weather. The combination of rabbit (you can easily substitute chicken if you are unable to find rabbit) mushrooms, butter, stock, and roasted garlic are as wonderful as that first crisp day when leaves are falling, schools are back in session, and football is on the TV.
Which Mushrooms are Best in Rabbit Stew
Mushrooms come into their own in fall, and I highly recommend you use as many varieties of fresh mushrooms as you can get your hands on. Most supermarkets will have at least a couple kinds, and the more varieties the better.
Dried porcini mushrooms are readily available, and they add a lot to the flavor of this stew, as does their soaking water. You need to strain that water to get out any bits of dirt or grit, but it’s easily done with a paper towel or coffee filter.
Can You Save and Reheat this Dish?
Refrigerator: Stew is one of those dishes that reheats well and sometimes tastes even better on day two. Store this stew tightly covered in the refrigerator for 3 to 4 days. Reheat it on the stovetop until the rabbit reaches 165°F.
Freezer: Freeze this dish for up to 3 months. Defrost in the refrigerator. Reheat it on the stovetop until the rabbit reaches 165°F.
Make it Alcohol-free
Most of the alcohol will burn off as it cooks, but if you want a completely alcohol-free stew, try these substitutions for the sherry or white wine.
- 1 cup of chicken stock with one tablespoon of vinager or lemon juice
- 1 cup of non-alcoholic apple cider.
What to Serve with Rabbit Stew
Rabbit Stew with Mushrooms
Rabbit are often available at specialty markets, fresh or frozen, or can be ordered by your local butcher. If you can find fresh rabbit, have your butcher piece it out for you. Otherwise, see How to Cut Up a Rabbit.
Alternatively, you can simply brown the whole rabbit, and put it into the stew whole. Then remove it later and pick off the meat.
There is an optional step to making this stew taken from classic French cooking (Antonin Careme) that transforms a good dish into a great one. Mash the rabbit or chicken’s liver, mix it with crème fraiche or sour cream, then push it through a fine sieve.
The result is a pink slurry that will thicken and enrich your sauce. If you choose to take this step, do not let your stew boil once the liver-crème fraiche mixture is in it or it will curdle. If you want to go halfway with this final step, mix in a large dollop of crème fraiche or sour cream in at the end.
1 ounce dried porcini mushrooms
2 heads garlic
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
1 1/2 pounds mixed mushrooms
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
3 large shallots, chopped
1 cup sherry or white wine
1 to 2 cups mushroom soaking water
3 cups chicken stock
1 tablespoon fresh thyme or 2 teaspoons dried
1 large parsnip, peeled and chopped into large pieces
2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
Roast the garlic:
Preheat the oven to 375°F. Slice the top third off the heads of garlic and drizzle the olive oil over them. Wrap the heads loosely in foil and bake for 45 minutes to an hour, or until cloves are soft and brown. Set aside to cool.
Soak the dried porcini:
Meanwhile, soak the dried porcini mushrooms in 2 cups hot water.
Cut the rabbit into pieces and sprinkle with salt:
Cut the rabbit into serving pieces and salt well. Let sit at room temperature for 30 minutes as the garlic finishes roasting. Use all of the rabbit in this dish — you can fish out the ribs and other parts that have little or no meat on them later; they will add vital flavor to your stew.
For detailed instructions on the rabbit, read How to Cut Up a Rabbit.
Make the the crème fraiche-liver thickener (optional):
If you are going to make the crème fraiche-liver thickener, mince the rabbit liver finely and move it to a small bowl. Vigorously mix in about 1 1/2 tablespoons crème fraiche or sour cream. Now put the mixture into a fine-meshed sieve over a bowl and push it through with a rubber spatula. Reserve in the fridge.
Prep the mushrooms and save the mushroom soaking liquid:
Chop off the tough ends of the mushroom stems and either discard or save for stock. Roughly chop or slice the mushrooms and set aside. Dice the rehydrated porcini. Pour the porcini soaking water through a paper towel into another bowl. Reserve the liquid.
Dry sauté the mushrooms:
Heat a thick-bottomed large pot on high heat for 1 minute. Add the mushrooms and shake the pot. Stirring continuously, dry sauté the mushrooms until they release their water.
Turn the heat down to medium-high. Use a wooden spoon to scrape up any mushroom bits off the bottom of the pan. Salt the mushrooms lightly. When the mushroom liquid is mostly gone, remove them to a bowl.
Brown the rabbit in butter:
Add the butter to the pot. When the butter melts, turn the heat down to medium. Pat the rabbit pieces dry and place in the pan.
Work in batches if you need to, do not crowd the pan. Brown the pieces well on all sides. Remove the rabbit pieces from the pot and set aside.
Sauté the shallots:
Increase the heat to medium-high and add the shallots to the pot. Sauté until the shallots are nicely wilted, about 3 minutes. Stir from time to time. Sprinkle salt over everything.
Squeeze the garlic into the mushroom liquid:
While the shallots are cooking, squeeze the roasted garlic into the mushroom soaking water you have strained, then whisk it together.
Deglaze the shallots with sherry:
Add the sherry or white wine to the shallots in the pot. Use a wooden spoon to scrape off any browned bits on the bottom of the pot. Let the sherry boil down by half. Add the mushroom-roasted garlic mixture and the stock and stir to combine.
Add the thyme, mushrooms, rabbit, and parsnips, then bring to simmer and cook:
Add the thyme, all the mushrooms, the rabbit, and the parsnips and bring everything to a bare simmer.
Simmer gently for 90 minutes. You want the meat to be close to falling off the bone. If you want, you can fish out all the rabbit pieces and pull the meat off the bone – it makes the dish less attractive, but it will be easier to eat. Taste for salt right before you serve and add if needed. Stir in the parsley.
Add the liver mixture (optional):
If you are using the crème fraiche-liver mixture to thicken your stew, turn off the heat. When the stew stops bubbling, add the mixture and let it heat through for a minute before serving.
Do not allow the stew to boil once the liver-crème fraiche mixture is in it or it will curdle.
Serve with a crusty loaf of bread, a green salad, and either a hearty white wine, a dry rose, or a light red wine.
|Nutrition Facts (per serving)|
|Amount per serving|
|% Daily Value*|
|Total Fat 22g||28%|
|Saturated Fat 10g||48%|
|Total Carbohydrate 44g||16%|
|Dietary Fiber 8g||28%|
|Total Sugars 13g|
|Vitamin C 24mg||121%|
|*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.|