This braised rabbit recipe includes lots of cabbage and bacon. It is really very easy to make. Time and a little white wine do all the work for you.
Although it doesn't take up a huge shelf space, one can always find rabbit for sale in the grocery store in France. I am thankful that it has been skinned and cleaned, but have to brace myself a bit for the head and organ meat that is included. A better chef than I would make good use of these, but for the purposes of this braised rabbit recipe, they are set aside.
Once the rabbit has been dressed, it should be cut up into 6 to 8 pieces for this braised rabbit recipe. I am not an expert butcher, but can stumble along with the directions from my LaRousse, and end up with two front legs, two back legs, and four body pieces. Have a look at this article about cutting a whole rabbit, if you are confronted with a rabbit in need of butchering and no idea where to begin.
Rabbit should be neither too young nor to old when it is butchered. Young rabbit can be somewhat tasteless and bland, and old rabbit, although it gains in flavor, can be tough. Telling the age of a rabbit when you buy it already dressed is not always evident. However, in the US, rabbits are typically sold as either a fryer or a roaster. A fryer is a younger rabbit weighing in at approximately two to three pounds (dressed weight) and a roaster is much larger weighing in at about four pounds. Rabbit meat should be light pink - an indication that it has been bled correctly. Older rabbit has somewhat darker flesh.
Please make sure the rabbit you buy to eat has been ethically raised. Not only is it the right thing to do, it will taste better as well. Makes sense doesn't it? If you are eating rabbit in France, look for rabbit that is labeled Agriculture Biologique.
6 ounces lean bacon, sliced in 1 inch strips (or lardons if you can get them)
1 rabbit, cut in 6 to 8 pieces
2/3 cup dry white wine
salt and pepper
Preheat oven to 165°C (330°F).
Blanch cabbage. Place a large pot of water on high heat. Cover and bring to a boil. Meanwhile, remove the outermost leaves from the cabbage. Slice the cabbage in two, and then in quarters. Cut out the stem and then slice each quarter into quarters, so that you end up with strips of cabbage. Place the cabbage in the boiling water. After five minutes, remove from the heat and drain.
Saute bacon and vegetables. Heat 2 tablespoons olive oil in a large skillet on medium heat. Add the carrot, turnip, onions, and bacon. Cook on medium heat, stirring occasionally, until the onion is soft and the bacon cooked - about 10 minutes. Remove the vegetables and bacon from the skillet and set aside.
Brown rabbit. Heat 2 more tablespoons of olive oil in the skillet on medium heat. Add the rabbit pieces and brown on all sides - about 5 minutes. Remove from heat.
Fill Dutch oven. Place a layer of cabbage leaves on the bottom of a 4 quart Dutch oven. Add two pieces of rabbit and sprinkle generously with salt and pepper. Add part of the vegetable and bacon mixture. Continue layering cabbage, rabbit and vegetables, ending with a layer of cabbage.
Bake. Pour the wine over the cabbage and place the Dutch oven in the preheated oven. Bake for 1 1/4 hours.
Serve. Serve braised rabbit over rice if you wish.