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Rabbit - roast and braised with Mustard

Rabbit is returning to popularity in this country, where its association with Beatrix Potter has made us stupidly sentimental. Thank goodness other farmyard animals haven't been so handicapped; a book on Florence the chicken or Benny the bull would seriously hamper our eating habits.

Rabbit is low in fat, so considered very healthy, but a drawback of this is that if it's overcooked it will become dry and uninteresting.
Like game birds, the legs take longer to cook than the body, so in this recipe we will braise them a little longer than the saddle.
A rabbit provides a generous meal for two to three people, but not quite enough for four - but any leftovers reheat well. The mustard isn't overpowering, but enhances the delicate flavour of the meat.
If this seems like a long-winded recipe, it isn't; because while your stock is reducing you can prepare most of the rest of the dish. The final trick is to add a little fresh mustard just before you bring the dish to the table.

Ingredients

- 2 farmed Rabbits, cut into big pieces by your butcher

- 50g/2oz Butter

- 50g/2oz Flour

- 3 old Carrot, peeled and cut into small dice

- 3 Celery stalks, washed and cut into small dice

- 1 Leek, carefully washed, the chopped

- 2 big or 4 medium Onions, peeled and chopped

- 2 big or 4 medium cloves of Garlic, peeled and chopped

- 1 tablespoon (15ml) Olive oil

- 280ml/10 fl oz Dry White Wine

- 560ml/20 fl oz Stock, prepared as below

- 1 teaspoon (5ml) Dried Herbes de Provence (preferably a mixture including lavender and green anise = such as that sold by www.gourmetherbs.co.uk (http://www.gourmetherbs.co.uk)

- 2 tablespoons (30ml) Dijon Mustard

- 140ml/5 fl oz Cream

- Salt and freshly-ground Pepper

- Another tablespoon (15ml) Dijon Mustard

- Freshly-chopped Parsley, to decorate.

Equipment: Flameproof casserole capable of holding all the ingredients.

Method

1. Spread your rabbit pieces out, so you can see what you have.
2. Put the meaty rear legs and the saddle (back) pieces on one side, the skinny front pieces on the other.
3. Place the skinny bits in a saucepan with half the onions, carrots, celery, garlic and all the Herbes de Provence.
4. Cover with 1 litre/2 pints water, and bring the mixture to the boil. Simmer for 90 minutes, pushing the rabbit pieces down to keep them below the liquid as they cook.
5. Drain, keeping the stock and throwing away the solids.
6. While the stock is reducing, put the flour on a dinner plate or roasting tray and season with plenty of salt and pepper; mix well together.
7. One by one, roll the remaining meaty pieces in the seasoned flour – shaking off any excess, then putting them to one side. Any leftover flour can be thrown away.
8. In the casserole, assemble half the butter, the remaining onion, celery, garlic and the leek; sweat for 5 minutes. Add the first two tablespoons of mustard, followed by the white wine; scraping the bottom of the pan to deglaze. Set aside.
9. Heat the oven to 200°C/400°F/Gas 6.
10. In a separate frying pan, melt the remaining butter over a medium flame until it sizzles. Fry the rabbit pieces on all sides until they are sealed and are golden brown. As you are happy with them, take them out and put them in a roasting tin; adding any leftover juices to the vegetable casserole.
11. Pour the olive oil over the rabbit and roast for 15 minutes, turning them over half-way through. Remove from the oven.
12. Put the rabbit legs (which, as mentioned, take longer to cook) in the casserole with the vegetable mixture, then add the reserved stock – allowing the saddle pieces to cool to one side. Bring the mixture to the boil, and simmer for 15 minutes. Remove from the heat and allow to cool.
13. Remove the rabbit legs from the sauce and stack them up with the saddle meat.
14. Reduce the sauce by half, over a medium heat.

 the dish can be prepared ahead up to this point.

15. When ready to serve, add the cream and lemon juice to the sauce and heat.
16. Put the rabbit pieces in the oven for 2 minutes.
17. Just before serving, mix the extra spoonful of mustard into the sauce and test the seasoning. Combine the rabbit and sauce, and sprinkle with fresh parsley.
Very good with Potatoes; mashed (q.v.) to soak up the juices.

Recipe taken from 'Foolproof Entertaining' by Simon Scrutton.

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