There are many ways of combining rabbit and mustard, many of them complicated and most involving cream. This one is a bit different, and it’s my favourite as well. It may look fiddly at first sight, but you can cook the vegetables, and even fry the rabbit, well in advance, leaving only the roasting and reheating to do at the last minute.
Caution: it will only work with a nice fat farmed rabbit — if you’ve got a wild one, make something else! Here you can buy packs of ready-jointed rabbit — for two of us, I use a saddle cut into four pieces. If you use a whole rabbit, you will need to leave the legs in the oven a further ten minutes after you have taken the rest out. For 4.
Source: the Roux brothers’ French Country Cooking.
1 rabbit, cut into 8 pieces
3 oz clarified butter
1/2 lb button mushrooms*
3 oz butter
juice of 1/2 lemon
2 lb broad beans* (unprepared weight)
3 oz dijon mustard
1 oz fresh breadcrumbs
1/4 lb bacon, cut into lardons
1 tbs chopped tarragon/parsley
salt and pepper
Pod the broad beans and blanch them in boiling water, or steam them, until they are just cooked — probably only about 2 minutes, Refresh under cold water and set aside.
Heat 1 oz butter in a frying pan, quickly saute the mushrooms (quartered if they are large); add the lemon juice, and set aside.
Heat most of the clarified butter in a frying pan and saute the rabbit until lightly browned on all sides. Leave aside on a wire rack to cool for 5-10 minutes.
All this can be done in advance. When you are ready to finish cooking, preheat the oven to very hot. Grease a roasting pan with the rest of the clarified butter. Spread the rabbit pieces generously with mustard, then roll them in the breadcrumbs and put them in the roasting tin. Cook in the oven for 12 minutes (plus the extra 10 minutes for the legs). While they are cooking, fry the lardons in the pan you sauted the rabbit in. Just before the rabbit is ready, melt 2 oz butter in a saucepan, add the vegetables and lardons, gently heat through, and season to taste.
To serve, put a bed of vegetables on each plate and top with pieces of rabbit. Drizzle the pan juices over the top and sprinkle with parsley or tarragon.
* You can use any seasonal vegetables; the original recipe specified spinach, but I think broad beans go particularly well with rabbit. I have also used small quartered artichokes stewed in olive oil and water, instead of mushrooms. Whatever you use should be simply cooked, and definitely not overcooked.