Saturday, November 17, 2007

Rabbits & Painting

Rabbit Marbella with Valencia Rice

This morning, while sitting around in my PJ's, I was conjuring up the activities of the day and weekend. I had some rabbit (yes.....rabbit) in my freezer that was waiting for inspiration. Books came out. My husband was called into the kitchen from his bathroom painting job. "What about rabbit for supper?" "Rabbit!" he said. "I don't remember how to cut up a rabbit!" I had no less than 3 books that had diagrams on how to cut up a rabbit. The old Larousse Gastronomique that I got in Culinary School days has a series of pictures of rabbit from fur on bunny to nicely jointed pieces (EWWWW!). The new Larousse Gastronomique has a series of pictures of a butcher cleaned rabbit, cut into proper pieces. I found a recipe in Heidi Noble's Menus from an Orchard Table, a wonderful book by a couple in the Okanagan who have a winery and cooking school.

Rabbit Marbella is a braised dish that has its' roots in Andalusian cooking, using a combination of green olives, capers and prunes. These flavours are reminiscent of the influence of the Moors, who dominated that region in Spain for 500 years during the middle ages. As well, this dish has some resonance for me, as the dish Chicken Marbella, from the famous Silver Palate Cookbook, was a dish on the menu in a restaurant that my husband and I owned in the 80's.

The first coat of paint was finished, and then the rabbit was attended to. Adapted recipe as follows:

Rabbit Marbella

1 tbsp olive oil
l rabbit (about 3 lbs)
1 onion, large dice
1 large carrot, large dice
1 celery stalk, large dice
4 cloves of garlic, peeled and left whole
1 cup white wine (dry)
4 cups chicken stock
2 bay leaves
2 large sprigs fresh thyme
1 tsp salt
fresh ground pepper

Cut up the rabbit into about 8 pieces and season with some salt and pepper. Heat an oven proof saute pan or casserole dish with the olive oil and brown the rabbit until golden brown on all sides. Remove rabbit from pan and reserve. Saute the onions, carrots, celery and garlic in the pan drippings until caramelized. Deglaze the pan with white wine. Add the chicken stock. Add the chicken pieces to the vegetables and liquid and heat until boiling. Add the thyme and bay leaves and salt and pepper. Place the pan in a preheated 350 degree oven and let cook for 2 to 3 hours, until the meat comes off the bone.


1 cup pitted dried prunes
1/2 cup spanish olives, pitted and cut in half
1/2 cup capers, rinsed
1/2 cup sherry vinegar
1/2 cup sherry
juice and zest of 1 lemon

Heat the sherry vinegar and sherry with the prunes until just hot and reserve to let the prunes plump up.

Once the rabbit is tender and comes off the bone, remove the meat from the braising liquid, and strain out the vegetables. Return this liquid to the pan and bring to the boil and reduce to less than half. While the liquid is reducing, remove the rabbit meat from it's bones.

Once the liquid has reduced, add the prunes, capers and olives, and then the meat. Heat through. Add the lemon juice and zest at the end. Season if required with salt and pepper. Serve with rice or polenta.

The old adage that rabbit"tastes like chicken" is quite true, however it tastes like flavourful range fed chicken, not the bland chicken that we all know. Hope you try this recipe! Use a nice farm chicken instead of the rabbit if you like!

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