Sunday, April 22, 2012

Braised Rabbit with Asparagus Risotto

This meal screams spring, with asparagus now being in season and rabbit being reminiscent of the warming atmosphere. If you've never tried rabbit, you can get it at Soulard Market like we did. It tastes kind of like chicken, but richer and just a touch gamey. I'm not into gamey flavor though, so don't be put off by it being a wild animal. 

If the thought of eating fluffy little bunnies bothers you, just know that at least they were wild and free before the hunter got them, unlike the caged conditions that many of our domesticated animals live in.

Plus, they're delicious. And very healthy, too!

{Printable Recipe}

Ingredients for Braised Rabbit
1 rabbit, cut into large pieces
Flour, cayenne, salt, pepper
1 egg, beaten
Dash soy sauce
Dash rice wine vinegar
3 cups chicken stock
Bunch fresh thyme

Ingredients for Risotto
1 cup arborio rice
2 tbsp bacon fat (or olive oil if you're being good)
6 cups chicken stock
1/2 lemon
1/2 onion, minced
1 clove garlic, minced
Handful thin asparagus, chopped
1 sprig thyme
red pepper flakes (pinch)
1.5 tbsp butter
2-3 tbsp Parmesan cheese


For the rabbit:
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

You'll probably need to cut the rabbit into large sections. Cut the legs from the rest of the body, and cut the torso into reasonable sizes.

I know, it looks kind of like alien meat. But I promise, it will look better once it's cooked.

Combine the flour, cayenne, salt and pepper. You'll need enough flour to coat the rabbit, probably a cup or two. The spices are to taste, so start out light.

Whisk the egg with a dash of soy sauce and rice wine vinegar.

Dunk the rabbit pieces into the egg and then dredge in the flour.

Sear the meat in some olive oil.  

Pour in the stock and thyme. Throw it in the oven to braise for 45 minutes.

After 45 minutes in the oven

For the risotto:
Saute the onion and garlic in some bacon fat (yes, we keep it in the fridge). Season with salt and red pepper flakes. Add the rice and let it toast in the pan for 5 minutes. Add thyme.

Meanwhile, heat up the stock with the lemon half.
To cook the rice, add 2 ladles of stock to the rice and stir. Let this slowly evaporate. When it's almost completely gone, add 2 more ladles of stock. You cook risotto this way, very slowly and in batches of stock. This lets the starch leech out and make the rice very creamy.

This is what it looks like when it's ready for another ladle of stock
Continuously taste the rice to check for doneness. It'll take about 25 minutes and a good 5 or 6 additions of stock. When it's very close to being done and you only have one more addition of stock to go, add the asparagus.

When it's done, turn off the heat and add the butter and Parmesan to finish it off.

Spring on a plate.


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