On the weekend, I acquired a large, fresh white rabbit from the local organic butcher. Weighing in at 3 1/2 pounds dressed, with liver and kidneys in, it was a big rabbit, and I wanted to produce something spectacular. The previous time I did that, I surfed around for rabbit fricassee, produced a variation of one that appealed, and did it in the crockpot. The result fed four hearty lads and one dainty lady, and received much acclaim. This time, surfing for fricasse didn't produce much that excited me, but I finally found a recipe for "Rabbit Frigassee" in an Irish cookbook, which I think was called "Irish Food and Folklore", by a chef/teacher called Clare Connery. It was simpler than my previous effort, but sounded better, so lacking one or two of the ingredients, I made my own variation:
One rabbit, jointed (two if they're small, wild ones)
One onion, thinly sliced
Two sticks celery
1/2 cup fresh or frozen peas
1 cup sliced, fresh button mushrooms
Two bay leaves
1 pint GOOD chicken stock
1/2 pint milk
3Tbs plain flour
2 oz butter
Sea salt and fresh cracked black pepper
Soak rabbit overnight in fridge in weak brine solution with a little vinegar, to whiten and tenderise the flesh.
Drain rabbit and place in pot with enough cold water to cover and bring to the boil. When the water boils, pour off immediately.
Place rabbit pieces in pot with chicken stock, milk, bay leaves, celery and onion. Simmer 1 to 2 hours until tender (farmed rabbit will require less time than wild). Season to taste with salt and pepper.
While simmering, fry the sliced mushrooms in half the butter until soft. Put aside.
In a casserole or saucepan (I used a cast iron pot), combine the butter and flour to make a roux. Add about half to three quarters of the simmering liquid and stir until thickened. Include the onions or not, as desired. In this case I didn't. When the sauce is at the desired thickness, stir in the rabbit, mushrooms and peas. Serve with your favourite mashed potato or buttered noodles and a green vegetable of your choice. Mine was English spinach.
Notes: SO and myself agreed that this was a winner. For my part, I wouldn't change much, except to add some smoky bacon to the mushrooms when frying, maybe some finely sliced or chopped carrots whilst making the sauce; and maybe, just maybe, a cup or so of good chardonnay to the simmering liquid.
I love rabbit. I also have another favourite rabbit casserole, made with red wine, that I call 'Barossa Bunny'. Any other rabbit afficianados out there? Any other favourite recipes for me to try? Cheers.