Lapin à la Chasseur (Rabbit hunter)
• 4 rabbit legs, with thighs and shoulders
• Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
• 1/2 cup flour
• 4 tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
• 8 slices of thick, smoked bacon
• 4 to 5 shallots, peeled
• 8 cloves garlic, peeled and lightly crushed (the germ removed)
• 4 sprigs fresh thyme
• 1 1/2 to 2 cups chicken bouillon (or any other “aromatique” cube diluted in water)
• 8 ounces sliced mushrooms
• 2 cups dry white wine (Sauvignon Blanc is recommended.)
• 1 tablespoons sweet butter
• ¼ cup minced fresh chives or parsley for garnish
Preheat oven to 400°F. Season the rabbit pieces with salt and pepper and roll in flour. Heat 1 tbsp. olive oil in a large ovenproof Dutch oven and saute the bacon and shallots for about 10 minutes. Remove from pan. Add rest of olive oil and rabbit pieces (do not crowd the pan) and turn the heat to high. When the rabbit begins to brown, turn heat down to medium and add garlic and thyme.
When it’s nicely browned, add the bouillon, and heat to a boil. Stir in the bacon and shallots, then add mushrooms and place in the oven covered and cook for about 30 minutes, until meat is tender. Add wine, stir and return to the oven for another 10 minutes. Remove meat and set aside on platter and keep warm. Cook sauce uncovered until it reduces. Add butter to sauce in the pot and stir until butter melts. Taste and add salt and pepper if desired.
Spoon sauce over the rabbit and serve, garnished with chives or parsley. Serve with steamed new potatoes or pasta.
Notes from the cook:
French cooks often remove the germ, or sprouty thingie at the center of garlic cloves to prevent a vulgar taste and this recipe, translated into English from a French cook, recommends doing so. Decide for yourself how you feel about vulgar garlic.
When I make this again, I will use four boneless, skinless chicken breasts and watch cooking time carefully to make sure the chicken doesn’t dry out.
Bill Colvard is lifestyle reporter for The Mount Airy News, a publication of Civitas Media.