Braised and Fried Rabbit Leg, Carolina Gold Rice, Lemon Pepper, and Sour Cream Gravy

Adapted by
March 2014
Yield: 2 servings


Rabbit legs
4 rabbits
2 fresh bay leaves
2 sprigs thyme
10 ounces medium diced carrot
10 ounces medium diced celery
10 ounces medium diced onion
1 tablespoon grapeseed oil
black pepper
1½ cups dry white wine
Fried Rabbit
1 gallon peanut oil
¼ cup Badia lemon pepper
8 cups all-purpose flour, divided between 2 bowls
1 quart buttermilk
black pepper
Fried Lemons
1 lemon sliced into ⅛-inch-thick wheels
1 cup Wondra flour
Carolina Gold Rice Pilaf
2 tablespoons unsalted European butter
2 cups Carolina gold rice (Anson Mills), rinsed and dried
3½ cups filtered water
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 fresh bay leaf
Sour Cream Gravy
1 tablespoon grapeseed oil
2 cups finely sliced onion
½ cup dry white wine
3 cups Rockview Farms sour cream
8 ounces unsalted European butter
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1 tablespoon cracked black pepper
2 tablespoons finely chopped parsley
To Assemble and Serve
2 tablespoons ⅛-inch-thick rounds of carrot, held in ice water


For the Rabbit Legs:
Fabricate the rabbit, butchering it into 2 hind legs, 2 front legs, 2 loins and the carcass. Reserve the loins for another preparation. Crack the carcass in half, rinse, and pat dry. In a 4-quart pot, combine 1 bay leaf, 1 sprig thyme, half the carrot, celery, and onion, and half the carcass. Cover with water and bring to boil. Reduce heat and simmer 3 hours, skimming every 15 minutes. Strain and reserve stock.

Heat an 8-quart Dutch oven over medium flame and add grapeseed oil. Aggressively season rabbit legs with salt and pepper. Sear legs until light-golden brown. Remove legs and add remaining herbs and vegetables; sweat 2 minutes. Deglaze with wine and reduce by two-thirds.

Heat oven to 325ºF. Add hind legs to the Dutch oven and enough stock to cover. Bring to boil, cover, and transfer to oven. Braise hind legs for 30 minutes. Remove from oven and add front legs to Dutch oven on the stove top. Return to simmer, cover, and return to oven; braise 80 minutes. Rabbit should be almost fully tender. Uncover and let cool at room temperature in braising liquid. When cool, return cover and chill in refrigerator.

Remove rabbit from braise and reserve. Strain braising liquid and combine with remaining stock. Reduce by half. Cool and reserve fortified stock for gravy.

For the Fried Rabbit:
In an 8-quart Dutch oven, heat peanut oil to 350ºF. Whisk lemon pepper into 1 bowl of flour. Dredge legs in plain flour, dip in buttermilk, and completely coat in lemon pepper-flour. Slip hind legs into the hot oil followed by the front legs. Fry the hind legs for 7 minutes and front legs for 5½ minutes, until golden brown and crisp. Transfer legs to wire rack , season aggressively with salt and pepper, and let cool. Reduce oil to 250ºF for fried lemons.

For the Fried Lemons:
Toss lemon slices in Wondra flour, shaking off excess. Fry lemons in the peanut oil until deep-golden brown, almost burnt. Drain lemon on a wire rack, season with salt, and let cool. Keep fried lemon in a warm, dry space to stay crisp, such as above the stove.   

For the Charleston Gold Rice Pilaf:
In a 4-quart Dutch oven over medium heat, melt 1 tablespoon butter and parch rice. Remove from heat and add water, salt, and bay leaf. Cover Dutch oven, return to heat, and bring to boil. Reduce heat and simmer 15 minutes. Keeping covered, remove from heat and let stand for 15 minutes. Add remaining butter, lightly fluff rice with meat fork, and reserve, keeping warm. 

Sour Cream Gravy:
In a sautoir over medium flame, heat oil and sauté onion until tender. Deglaze with wine. Add 1 quart fortified rabbit stock and bring to gentle simmer. Reduce by 4/5s. Reduce heat and whisk in sour cream, butter, lemon juice, and black pepper. Season with salt and finish with herbs.

To Assemble and Serve:
In the middle of two 12-inch plates, place 3/4 cup rice (on each) and arrange 1 hind and 1 fron leg on top of each mound of rice. Smother with each set of legs with 1 cup gravy. Finish with fried lemons and shaved carrots.