You may also be relieved to know that it is a lean meat. Low in fat and cholesterol, high in protein, raised without hormones, usually containing no stimulants, additives or preservatives. And it’s easily digested, which is why the American Heart Foundation and the American Medical Association recommend it for people on special diets. Have I got your attention yet?
One of the ingredients for this dish, crème fraîche, is something sold everywhere in France but seldom found on the shelves of American supermarkets, although you can usually find it in specialty stores. Sour cream is too sour and can curdle when cooked. Heavy cream is too thin. And neither gives the same result. One solution is to heat (not boil) one cup of heavy cream and then mix it with 1 teaspoon of buttermilk and let it stand at room temperature until the mixture thickens (6 hours or more, depending on the room temperature). Don’t worry about it going bad; this is how yoghurt is made. But once it thickens, you have to refrigerate it; you can keep for up to a week. Hint: the rest of the buttermilk can be used for a wonderfully rich chocolate cake. Second hint: if you did find crème fraîche and didn’t use all of it, you’ll be happy to know that crème fraîche, unlike sour cream, can be beaten into whipped cream.
- a 3-lb rabbit, cut in pieces
- 3 T butter
- 1 T peanut oil
- salt and freshly ground pepper
- 3 minced shallots
- 2 branches of fresh rosemary
- 4 T Dijon mustard
- 2 T crème fraîche
- 2 egg yolks
- juice of ½ lemon
- Brown the rabbit pieces evenly in the oil and butter over fairly high heat. (You can play around with the proportion of oil and butter to suit your tastes and diet, but using some butter will give a better flavor and the oil keeps the butter from going brown.)
- Lower the heat and add the rosemary, shallots, salt and pepper. Simmer covered for about 30 minutes or until the meat is tender, adding a bit of liquid chicken stock or cognac if it goes dry before it’s thoroughly cooked.
- Remove the rosemary.
- Blend the Dijon mustard with the crème fraîche, egg yolks and lemon juice. Mix well and pour over the rabbit.
- Simmer over very low heat for about 10 minutes, or until the sauce thickens slightly.
Serves 4. Accompany with rice or boiled potatoes to make the most of the sauce.
You can see it’s an easy recipe: only 5-10 minutes of preparation for 40 minutes cooking. You can make it even easier by eliminating the egg yolk and lemon juice, but I think it has more layers of flavor this way. Or you could make it more rustic by using a bit of moutarde à l’ancienne (the one with the mustard seed in it): 3 T Dijon to 1 T ancienne. And don’t worry about it being too strong because cooking the mustard removes a lot of its “bite”.
Recommended wine: a red burgundy (Savigny-les-Beaune) or a dry chablis if you prefer white