Rabbit Saddle “Boudin,” Roasted Rabbit Rack, Rabbit Leg and Shoulder Confit, Sautéed Rabbit Livers and Fava Beans, Stinging Nettle Purée, Rabbit Jus, and Radish and Fava Leaf Salad
Yield: 6 to 8 Servings
2 whole rabbits, skinned
½ cup whole milk
1 tablespoon crushed juniper berries
4 sprigs savory
1 tablespoon crushed mace
5 sprigs thyme, picked
1 tablespoon crushed peppercorns
6 cloves garlic, crushed
1 cup kosher salt
4 cups clarified butter
1 bunch Swiss chard, trimmed and roughly chopped
3 cloves garlic, crushed
salt and freshly ground white pepper
½ pound caul fat, rinsed overnight in water
⅓ cup Gaeta olives, pitted and halved
1 pound stinging nettles
6 tablespoons butter
⅓ cup water
1 bunch baby carrots, peeled and trimmed
1 clove garlic, peeled
3 sprigs oregano
3 sprigs thyme
1 cup peeled fava beans
8 pieces spring garlic, trimmed
1 bunch baby French breakfast radishes, shaved
Rabbit jus infused with Orleans mustard
For the Rabbit:
On a large cutting board, lay the rabbit on its back and with a large knife or cleaver, chop off the head and feet. With a small knife, remove the kidneys and trim away the fat surrounding them. Remove livers and soak them with the kidneys in the milk overnight. A little bit further up the cavity, trim away the heart and lungs and discard.
With a butcher’s knife, trim away the shoulders (forelegs) by cutting flush against the neck bone, and bend the foreleg forward to pop the bone from the joint. Carve through the joint toward the ribs to completely remove. Remove the legs by carving inward to separate the thigh from the tailbone, pop the bone from the joint and then carve through the joint towards the tailbone to completely remove.
Using your fingers, locate the rib bones, and count up two bones from the tail; with a butchers knife, cut between the second and third rib bones on both ends of the rabbit to separate the saddle from the body. With a small knife, trim and reserve the tenderloins from the belly cavity.
Trim away the rabbit rack by severing between the first 5 to 6 rib bones at the top of the saddle. Using a small knife, trim the “chops” from the backbone. With a large knife, shorten the rib bones from the chop to desired length, and with a small knife, score along each rib bone. French the bones by using your fingers to push the meat down from the top of the bones.
Using a large knife or cleaver, remove backbone from the center of the saddles. Using a small knife, score a crosshatch pattern on the belly flaps, cover with plastic wrap and pound the flaps to flatten and tenderize them.
For the Rabbit Leg and Shoulder Confit:
Combine the juniper berries, savory, mace, thyme, peppercorns, and garlic. Put the rabbit legs and shoulders in a shallow non-reactive dish and coat all sides with the kosher salt and half of the juniper mixture. Cover, and refrigerate 6 hours to overnight. Remove the meat from the cure, rinse the meat, and pat it dry.
Wrap the remaining half of the juniper mixture in cheesecloth, tie the cheesecloth closed with butcher’s twine and submerge in the clarified butter in a large saucepan along with the rabbit legs and shoulders. Put the pan over medium-low heat, and poach the rabbit legs and shoulders at just below a simmer for 3 hours, or until the meat is very tender. When ready to serve, re-heat in the same butter.
For the Rabbit Saddle “Boudin”:
Heat a thin layer of olive oil in a large sauté pan over a medium heat. Add the Swiss chard, 1 of the cloves of garlic, and salt and pepper. Sauté until the Swiss chard is tender, remove them from the pan, strain, and chill.
Trim the caul fat into 4, 10-inch square sheets (making sure they are not punctured) and put them on a clean, flat surface. Put the 4 rabbit saddle pieces onto the sheets of caul fat. Return the trimmed tenderloin to the inside of the saddle pieces, and season the saddles with salt and pepper. Line approximately ¼ cup of the Swiss chard and 8 to10 olive halves onto the bellies of each saddle piece, snug against the loin meat. Tightly wrap belly flaps up and around the stuffing and then, snugly roll the caul fat to completely encase the boudin, trimming away excess as necessary. Wrap each boudin tightly in plastic wrap and transfer to a Cryovac bag and seal with a Cryovac machine.
Attach a thermo circulator in a pot large enough to fit the bag of loins, fill with water, and heat to 62°C. Add the bag of loins and cook for 3 hours, or until the internal temperature of the loins reaches 62°C. Remove the loins, rest them at room temperature for 30 minutes, and then chill them in ice water to cool to 34°F within 6 hours.
For the Stinging Nettle Purée:
Heat a large pot of salted water and put a bowl of ice water away from the heat, on the counter. While wearing gloves, remove the nettle leaves from the stems and boil until very tender. Shock in ice water and blend with enough ice water to make a smooth purée. Re-heat when ready to serve.
To Assemble and Serve:
Heat 2 tablespoons of butter and the water in a medium sauté pan and add carrots. Simmer until carrots are tender and liquid is reduced to a glaze.
When ready to serve, remove the boudins from the bags and peel away and discard the plastic wrap. In a large sauté pan, heat 3 tablespoons of butter over medium-high heat until browned, then add the Rabbit Saddle Boudins, 1 clove of the garlic, and 2 sprigs each of oregano and thyme. Roast on top of the stove, while basting, until browned on all sides and heated through, about 5 minutes. Allow the Boudins to rest, and slice into ⅓-inch rounds
In a small sauté pan, heat 1 tablespoon of butter until browned, and add the rabbit chops with remaining garlic, oregano, and thyme. Roast until browned, while basting, about 4 minutes. Season with salt and pepper.
Strain the livers and kidneys from the milk and pat dry. Heat a thin layer of olive oil in a medium sauté pan and add livers with a sprinkling of salt and pepper, sauté for 4 minutes, and when almost cooked, add the fava beans and cook for 1 minute more, until they are tender.
Heat a grill on high heat. Toss the spring garlic in a bit of olive oil, salt and pepper, grill until charred and tender. Toss the radishes and fava leaves in lemon vinaigrette.
Arrange on a large dinner plate 1 piece of confit rabbit, a few slices of Rabbit Saddle Boudin, a line of Stinging Nettle Purée, a couple of grilled spring onions, glazed carrots, the sautéed liver with fava beans, and a piece of roasted chop. Garnish with a drizzle of the rabbit jus, and plate the radish and fava leaf salad.