RABBIT WITH PRUNES — Lapin aux Pruneaux
Season: Year Round
Preparation Time: 5 minutes, longer if you are chopping the rabbit or bacon bits yourself
Total Cooking Time: 1 hour 45 minutes
Serves 4 to 5
It’s been a while (2 years!) since I posted a recipe, my goodness! But that is because I have poured everything into The Bordeaux Kitchen book! I have been adding to the other pages at the top of the home page, slowly but surely. Now, for a recipe! This one is not in the book, as I just made it recently with my lovely friend from Nice, France, Joelle Luson. We did Beef Burgundy together, as well as several other recipes, which you will find in the book.
At 72, Joelle says she feels 27 and doesn’t like the idea of having to grow up. On my most recent trip to Bordeaux, Joelle showed me this family recipe of rabbit with prunes, which she used to cook quite often. To serve 6, procure a whole rabbit of about 1.5 kg. Cut the rabbit into into several pieces (or have the butcher cut it): two halves of the back (rable), 2 thighs (cuisses), 2 front legs. We were only three, so she bought 2 backs and two thigh pieces. In advance of cooking this recipe, pour hot water over the prunes in a bowl until they are covered in water and allow to steep for two hours. If you are using rum, add it to the bowl to steep with the prunes.
7 ounces (200 g) prunes, pre-soaked in hot water for two hours
Optional: ½ cup (120 ml) rum
2 tablespoons olive oil (or lard), more if desired
7 ounces (200 g) bacon cubes (lardons)
2 lbs 10 oz (1.2 kg) rabbit pieces (4 pieces)
2 onions, chopped
Pinch of fine salt
Pinch of ground pepper
Parsley for garnish
A Few Notes
GARNISHED BOUQUET — BOUQUET GARNI
A bouquet garni is a small bundle of aromatic herbs in a combination which may be comprised of laurel (bay) leaves, thyme, leek, and rosemary, parsley, or savory tied together in a small bundle with string or in cheese cloth.
A PINCH — UNE PINCÉE
A pinch is using your thumb and first two fingers. Use a little bowl or ramekin in which to store your salt to be able to “pinch” it. For pepper, several rounds out of a grinder will work or else use a mortar and pestle to grind up several peppercorns.
Heat the oil (or lard) over medium-high to high heat in a dutch oven or cast iron pot (faitout or cocotte). Brown the bacon cubes together with the chopped onions until the onions are transluscent (about five minutes).
Add more oil if the pot looks dry. Extra oil or fat can also keep the meat from burning. Brown each pieces of rabbit on each side (five to ten minutes).
After browning the meat, add the water from the bowl of prunes to the pot. Add the bouquet garni, salt and pepper. Cover the pot and reduce the heat to low. Allow to simmer for one hour. (Meanwhile, boil a pot of potatoes in water or duck fat as an accompaniment!)
Add the prunes and simmer another 15 minutes. Warm a serving plate in the oven for a few minutes.
Remove the bouquet garni from the pot, mix in the potatoes, then place the rabbit pieces, prunes, potatoes, and sauce into the serving plate. Garnish with parsley.
Wine Pairing Tip: We had a Blaye – Côtes de Bordeaux, a red wine with soft tannins and an appellation on clay and limestone, a good terroir for the expression of the Merlot grape. For other French Southwest pairings, try this dish either with a Bordeaux rosé or a fruity Bergerac. Further afield in France, you might try a Saint Chinian (with notes of red currant) from Languedoc, or a light-bodied, herbaceaus Chinon rouge with notes of dark berries and spice, or else a refreshing Alsatian Pinot Noir with soft tannins and notes of red berries.