Braised Rabbit with Mustard, Figs, Shallots & Toasted Quinoa

Mustard_fig_rabbit

I wish rabbit could be my go-to protein, the way people have chicken breasts or pastrami or Slim Jims. But rabbit is rather hard to get at your neighborhood bodega. You might tell me that guinea pig is a close substitute to rabbit, but guinea pig is even harder to find so that is not helpful at all!

Paris introduced me to rabbit, specifically a restaurant in Montparnasse called Monsieur Lapin. It was decorated like a doily-ed Grandmother house with tons of porcelain rabbits. Creepy, perhaps, but the rabbit dishes save the day.

This preparation is rather classic (mustard, shallots, white wine) with a little twist (fig) and some bunny freshness (radish greens). I’m happy to report this tasted very fine and could have made a formidable showing at any bistro in any arrondisement or borough.

But the coup de grace of the night (which also included Tamari-Sesame Korean Yam Fries, Kale & Carrot Salad with Walnut Parmesan Dressing and Pineapple Lemon Balm Sorbet) was my toasted quinoa. Everything is better toasted/roasted/grilled. Nuts. Bread. Cruciferous vegetables. Pity the person who prefers a cheese sandwich over a grilled cheese. That person is sick. Do your best to set him free. 

Rabbit Recipe: Procure a rabbit. We got ours from The Brooklyn Kitchen. Sautee 4 shallots and a cup of celery tops (stalks and leaves) in one tablespoon olive oil on medium-high. Cook until shallots are clear, about 6 minutes. Add 1/3 cup whole grain mustard, 1/4 bottle white wine and a 1/2 quart of chicken broth to pan. Lift tasty sediment on bottom, simmer, reduce. Cool, then add to butchered rabbit. Marinate in tightly sealed bag overnight. Next day, preheat oven to 450 degrees. Pan-fry rabbit pieces until only the top layer is cooked through, about 4 minutes each side. Place pieces in roasting pan with remaining marinade. Add 1/4 bottle of white wine, 1/2 quart of chicken broth, diced red onion, and 1 1/2 cups of halved dried figs. Simmer on the stove for 5 minutes, cover, then place in the oven for 1 hour and 15 minutes. Before serving, add fresh radish greens.

Quinoa Recipe: Toast the kernels in a pan with olive oil. Get them a nice toasty brown. Maybe even burn some if you like that (I do). Then prepare quinoa as you normally would. This tastes distinctly peanutty and makes those good ol’ ancient grains taste new again.

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