Rabbit with Apple Cider and Mustard Seeds
The delicate flavor of rabbit is gaining in popularity, and this is one of the most delicious ways to prepare it, with apple turnovers. The apple cider imparts a fruity taste, and the mustard seeds add some spice. The rabbit does not suffer from reheating, so that part of the dish can be done up to 2 days in advance. The turnovers can be kept in the freezer until just before baking; bring them to room temperature before baking. However, the greens should be done at the last minute.
- Fresh Rabbit - one, 1-3/4- to 2-pound, dressed (pelt and innards removed)
- Buttermilk - 2 cups
- Hard (alcoholic) Apple Cider - 1/2 cup
- Pinch of cracked black pepper
- Rabbit Glaze
- Reserved rabbit carcass and trimmings
- Leeks - 2, white part only, washed and chopped
- Apple - 1, (Jonathan, Pippin, Granny Smith), peeled, cored, and cut into small dice
- Hard (alcoholic) Apple Cider - 1/4 cup
- Unsalted Butter - 1-1/2 teaspoons
- Puff Pastry Circles - tw,o 4-inch, 1/4-inch thick
- Egg White - 1, at room temperature
- Rabbit Sauce
- Clarified Unsalted Butter - 3 tablespoons
- Reserved marinated rabbit
- Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
- Shallots - 2
- Hard (alcoholic) Apple Cider - 1/4 cup
- Rabbit Glaze - 1/2 to 1 cup (above)
- Heavy (whipping) cream - 1/2 cup
- Mustard Seeds - 1/4 teaspoon
- Unsalted Butter - 1 tablespoon
- Mustard Greens - 1 to 2 bunches, washed and stemmed
- Unsalted Butter - 2 teaspoons
- Pinch of salt and freshly ground white pepper
To prepare the rabbit: Bone the rabbit by slicing the front and hind legs off and removing the fillets from both sides, reserving the carcass and all the trimmings for the stock. Trim the side flaps off the fillets and pull off the silver skin. Cut the fillets into sections and sever the second leg bones from the thigh bones. Remove the meat from the thigh bones and leave the bones in the legs.
Mix the marinade ingredients in a non-aluminum bowl and add the rabbit pieces. Cover with plastic wrap. Alternatively, place the marinate in a large zippered plastic bag, add the rabbit pieces, press out the air, and zip. Marinate at room temperature for 3 hours, or overnight in the refrigerator.
To make the glaze: Preheat the oven to 500 F, or its hottest temperature. Chop the carcass and trimmings and brown in a roasting pan in the preheated oven. Place in a stockpot and add water to cover. Bring to a boil and skim to remove the scum that rises to the surface. Add the chopped leeks and simmer over low heat for 2 to 3 hours. Strain and reduce 2 cups of stock to make 1/2 to 1 cup of glaze; set aside.
To prepare the turnovers: Simmer the apple in the cider over medium heat until the apple is tender and the liquid has almost evaporated. Remove the apple chunks to a small bowl and toss with the butter. Allow to cool to room temperature.
Spread the pastry circles on a work surface. Place the cooled apple on one side of the puff pastry circles, leaving a border, and brush the edges with egg white. Fold over and press the edges together to seal. Put the turnovers on a baking sheet. Make decorative slits with a sharp knife on the top. Chill the turnovers in the freezer for 10 minutes. Preheat the oven to 450 F. Sprinkle the baking sheet with water and bake the turnovers for 8 to 10 minutes, until golden brown. Remove and set aside; keep warm.
To prepare the sauce: Heat the clarified butter in a saute pan or skillet. Remove the rabbit from the marinade and pat dry. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Place the portions with bones in the pan first and the fillets last, giving more cooking time to the larger pieces. Use tongs to turn the rabbit and cook until medium rare.
Remove the rabbit pieces and pour the grease out of the pan. Add the shallots and saute lightly, then deglaze with the cider. Add the rabbit glaze, cream, and mustard seeds. Cook over medium heat until reduced by one third. Whisk in the butter, add the rabbit and any juices that have accumulated, and set aside over low heat to keep warm.
To prepare the greens: Cut the greens into very narrow strips. Blanch in boiling salted water for 1 to 2 minutes, until just wilted. Drain, pressing out any water, and toss with the butter, salt, and pepper.
To serve: Place a mound of greens to one side on each plate. Place a turnover across from the greens. Arrange rabbit slices and pieces over the greens and on the plate. Spoon sauce over the rabbit and greens and around the plates.