This is complicated. It’s been a while since I posted a really complicated recipe, and I think for sheer entertainment value, if nothing else, it’s time. This is the kind of recipe that daunts most restaurant chefs. It requires every kind of skill, and a true mastery of the craft. I’m not implying that I myself am a master, but this is my recipe, and this one I can do.
Complicated does not mean impossible. Like anything else that’s complicated, you can break it down into a series of manageable steps. Look at the final product as a series of recipes, or pieces. The end product is highly complex, but each step is not. You need to de-bone a rabbit leg. Okay. Tricky? Yes. But not impossible. You need to make a filling. Blanching sweetbreads, dicing, seasoning, reducing… so much work. But really, you’re making a filling. If you don’t like the idea of spending all day making a filling, then change it! Make a filling with diced sourdough bread, dried cherries, orange zest and seared duck livers. I have said it before and I will say it again. This is my recipe. But I am giving it to you. Make it your own. Make the food you want to make. No one is paying you to make this, so make your self happy and cook. Make your food.
But, of course, this is still my recipe. So go along with me. This is a chef’s recipe, a glimpse into real high end food. So, be amused. I do not expect you to make this, but I hope you will apply the ideas, thought process and technique to something of your own. Like stuffed chicken legs. Or veal saddle. Or pork tenderloin. Or anything else you love.
Rabbit. A lot of people get squeamish when rabbit appears on a menu. Who would ever want to eat that cute fluffy bunny? Remember, like all other animals bred for consumption, we (chefs) do not kill the animals. It is our duty and responsibility, however, to honor them. They gave their lives for our craft.
Veal sweetbreads. This is what’s known as offal, or organ meat. When cooked correctly, it’s rich, buttery, flavorful and resembles in many ways chicken thighs. Stuffed into rabbit, it’s amazing.
Sauce Provencal: this sauce is a simply white wine based reduction with the additional of golden raisins and basil. It takes a lot of flavor from the cooking of the stuffed rabbit, and is quite unique (and delicious) in the end.
4 rabbit legs, bones removed without piercing the skin (youtube for lesson), Frenched at the tip
2 lb veal sweetbread
5 cups rich chicken stock
4 carrots, 2 rough chop, 2 small dice
3 onions, 2 rough chop, 1 small dice
3 ribs celery, 2 rough chop, 1 small dice
1 bulb fennel, sliced
1 cup whole button mushrooms
1 bunch fresh thyme, 1/2 of the bunch fine chop
wondra flour (or pastry flour)
cracked black pepper
1 stick whole unsalted butter, cut into 1/2 inch cubes
750 ml dry white wine
1 cup heavy cream
1 cup golden raisins
caul fat, soaked overnight in salted water
1 cup basil, chiffonade
In a medium sized stock pot, add a touch of vegetable oil and begin sweating the rough chop vegetables, fennel, and mushrooms. Add the white wine and reduce by half. Cover with water, season with salt and pepper and add the thyme. Bring to a simmer. Place the sweetbread in the stock and simmer for about 5 minutes. Remove and place between 2 pans with a weight on top. Refrigerate until cool. Using a sharp pairing knife, remove the membrane around the sweetbreads. Cut the sweetbreads into brunoise (1/4 inch cubes).
Toss the cubed sweetbreads in the wondra flour with a little salt and pepper. Begin sauteing the sweetbreads in a little butter. Add the diced carrots, onion and celery with a little additional olive oil. Season with salt and pepper and add the remaining thyme. When highly fragrant and slightly cooked, add 1 cup of the rich chicken broth and reduce until thick. Remove from heat, swirl in about half of the butter and season one more time. Transfer to a storage pan and let cool completely. This is your filling.
Stuff the rabbit legs with the cold filling. Tightly wrap the rabbit legs with the caul fat and truss with butchers twine.
Heat an oven to 400 degrees. In a heavy bottom straight edge saute pan, heat the remaining butter with a little olive oil. Gently sear the rabbit legs on all sides until deep golden brown. The caul fat should appear as though it’s melting into the rabbit. Remove the rabbit from the pan and deglaze with the remaining white wine. Reduce by 2/3 and add the remaining chicken stock. Reintroduce the rabbit legs to the pan, season, and add the raisins. Loosely cover the pan with foil and place in the oven for about 1 hour, turning every 1/2 hour.
When the rabbit legs are very tender, remove the foil from the pan, add the cream and cook, uncovered for an additional 30 minutes. The sauce should now be thick and highly seasoned. Remove the legs from the pan, let rest 10 minutes. During this time, reduce the sauce until it coats the back of a spoon (nape). When it’s ready, add the basil. Remove the twine, slice the rabbit and spoon the sauce on top.
Serve right away.
This is best with truffled braised salsify, melted brussel sprouts and a micro blend salad.