(photo courtesy of MaslowskiWildlife.com)
Last night, we enjoyed this wondeful dish during an extended power outage. It is even better with candle light on a cold blustery night.
(takes 1/2 hour to prep, and 2-2 1/2 hours to cook.) For 4 people:
2 large rabbits
2 T Tarragon, divided
1 cup flour
ample salt and pepper to taste
2 T olive oil (as needed)
2 cloves garlic, peeled and whole
2 bay leaves
3-4 springs of fresh thyme
2-3 onions (based upon taste and size/room)
2 large turnips
3/4 lb carrots (less or more to taste)
2 cups Chicken broth (enough to cover--best quality made with feet*)
1 cup of dry white wine.
1/3 lb Gorgonzola (Italian is better, if it's not really sharp, try Danish Blue instead)
Fresh Tarragon for garnish or to add to sauce (optional)
First, bone the rabbit. I separate the back legs and then simply cut the meat off each in as large pieces as possible. Then I cut the meat from the front legs, and slice the saddle off both sides. I then cut the loins off by running a sharp blade down either side of the back bone. This is tricky and a bit like filleting fish, pulling the meat out with your thumb and scraping along the spine and ribs with the knife. It's worth the effort however. If you don't feel comfortable doing this, you can cut the whole loin section apart from the ribs and worry about pulling the meat once it's cooked. If you REALLY don't want to bone the rabbit at all, you can have the butcher cut it into pieces, but your guests will have to eat the meat from the bone and some may be squeamish.
Once boned, dredge the rabbit pieces in flour seasoned with 1/2 of the tarragon and ample salt and pepper. lightly brown in a non-stick pan and place in your dutch oven or covered pan. I like to add a half tablespoon of the seasoned flour to the pan with a little more olive oil, to cook for a few minutes. This will act as a thickening agent. De-glaze pan with wine and a bit of stock and pour into the dutch oven with the rabbit pieces.
Peel and coarsely chop the carrot, onion, and turnips. Add to the pot with the rabbit. Add remaining tarragon, thyme, garlic, and bay leaves. Cover with best quality chicken stock, bring to a simmer, and then place in a 350' oven for 1 1/2 hours. Add about 1/3 of the Gorgonzola to the pot, in small pieces. Return the pot to the oven for another 10 minutes or so.
Serve on plates or wide bowls. Arrange the rabbit and vegetables so that you can place small pieces of Gorgonzola on each bit of rabbit. Pour hot broth from the pot over the pieces of rabbit so that it melts the Gorgonzola into a glaze. Serve with a nice pinot noir and a salad of bitter greens with a Dijon vinaigrette.
Note 1: if you bring the sauce back to a simmer it will help the Gorgonzola melt when you pour the sauce over the rabbit. Note 2: on herbs, I've found that one can omit the thyme without much ill effect and if you don't have fresh, don't add thyme at all. Also, the tarragon need not be fresh. Dried seems to work quite well and should not be omitted.
*chicken feet are available at better poultry sellers. They impart a velvety mouth feel to stock and hence the sauces made from the stock. If feet are unavailable when you are making chicken stock, you can come fairly close by including a generous number of chicken breast bones along with backs and necks.