Throughout the ten years we’ve been together, my husband has worked at many different restaurants. This means that I have quite happily eaten at least a meal or two at each one. Out of all of the places he’s been, it’s actually the same restaurant that was responsible for two of my favorite dishes. While he no longer works there, I often ask him to make them for me at home.
One dish, my favorite of the two, is a beautiful combination of roasted cauliflower, chili flakes, breadcrumbs and homemade chitarra pasta. I could eat it for breakfast, lunch and dinner and be totally satisfied.
The other is a creamy compilation of braised rabbit, spaetzle, herbs and crispy shallots. It is the stuff dreams are made of.
In fact, the rabbit dish is one I’ve actually covered on this blog, but I figured a refresher post couldn’t hurt. I also got some requests for the recipe that we used, so I figured I’d share the goodness.
Please be warned these are more like “chef instructions” than a perfectly tested recipe as we usually just toss things together when we cook:
Braised Rabbit —
Take your rabbit (2.5-4#) and break it into hindquarters, front quarters, saddle. The most meat is found in saddle and the hindquarters so that is what we will work with. If you want to bone them out, that’s great. If you’d rather not, leave them bone-in and adjust the braising time if necessary.
If you have organ meat, separate that out and use for a different purpose. The front quarters can also be set aside for another culinary project (we’re working on chicken fried rabbit with ours).
Season the hindquarters and saddle with salt and pepper and begin by browning them in a pot over medium-high heat with a little oil. Once the meat is nice and brown, remove it and add mire poix (half an onion, a carrot and a celery stick, all diced). Once the vegetables are brown, add back the rabbit, plus a cup of white wine, a couple of sprigs of thyme, a bay leaf and enough chicken stock to cover the meat.
Cover pot and cook for an hour or so at 350 degrees, or until the meat is just tender. Do not overcook! Rabbit, because of its leanness, will actually get stringy and dry if overcooked. Once the meat is done, let it cool in the liquid.
After it is cool, dice the meat and strain the braising liquid. Pour the strained liquid in a pot and reduce by half.
While waiting for the meat to cool, make the spaetzle. We like to use the recipe from Zuni Cafe. Click here for a good adaption, complete with recipe and step-by-step instructions. Cook the spaetzle in water, pull and let drain. You can make it a day ahead of time, just toss with a little oil so the pieces don’t stick together.
Next up is the crispy shallots. The first time I made these I dusted them in flour first. Apparently that was wrong. My husband used a mandoline to finely shave the shallots and then put them in a pot of oil, sans any breading. The oil itself can’t be too hot, slow and low will take your shallots to a beautiful place. Make sure to salt them when they come out of the oil.
Now that everything is fairly well assembled, you can actually start making dinner!
Braised Rabbit w/ Spaetzle and Crispy Fried Shallots
- 1 cup button mushrooms, quartered
- A few slices of fresh garlic
- Braising liquid (reduced by half)
- 1/4 cup creme fraiche, or sour cream
- 1 TB Dijon mustard
- Braised, diced rabbit meat
- Cooked spaetzle
- Minced parsley and chives (dill is also great in here)
- Crispy fried shallots
Start by browning the mushrooms in oil, add garlic, season well. Once mushrooms are cooked, pour in a cup or so of the braising liquid. Then add the creme fraiche and Dijon. Add in the rabbit and once everything is well mixed together, add the spaetzle, tossing to coat. You may need to add more liquid or creme fraiche, that’s fine. Adjust as needed and season to your taste. Finish with herbs.
Spoon onto a plate and topped with the shallots.