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ejebud

Rabbit newbie

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I'm ramping up for next months Les Marmitons event and we are preparing rabbit. I have never worked with rabbit so I'm unsure of portion sizes. Is it 1/2 a rabbit per person like duck would be or is a 1/4 per person sufficient. we are doing it for 25 people as part of a 5 course meal so the portion doesn't have to be huge , but I don't want to skimp either.


President

Les Marmitons-NJ

Johnson and Wales

Class of '85

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How are you preparing the critters, ejebud?

One problem you're going to face is the different sizes of the pieces. On an average domestic rabbit (around 3 lbs. in my neck of the woods), a hind leg is a fairly generous portion while two front legs are borderline skimpy. The torso is usually cut in three or four pieces; assuming the latter, you'll probably need two per main course portion. For the rabbits I buy here, I usually count on four main course portions per average animal and five for a larger one.

Restaurants often get around the problem by preparing only the hind legs or removing the legs and deboning, stuffing and tying the torso, which makes for easy slicing and portion control and an elegant presentation. The unused pieces can be used in other preps like sautés, terrines and sausages.

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How are you preparing the critters, ejebud?

One problem you're going to face is the different sizes of the pieces. On an average domestic rabbit (around 3 lbs. in my neck of the woods), a hind leg is a fairly generous portion while two front legs are borderline skimpy. The torso is usually cut in three or four pieces; assuming the latter, you'll probably need two per main course portion. For the rabbits I buy here, I usually count on four main course portions per average animal and five for a larger one.

Restaurants often get around the problem by preparing only the hind legs or removing the legs and deboning, stuffing and tying the torso, which makes for easy slicing and portion control and an elegant presentation. The unused pieces can be used in other preps like sautés, terrines and sausages.

You've got a PM!!! (recipe included)


President

Les Marmitons-NJ

Johnson and Wales

Class of '85

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Hope I'm not spoiling a surprise (if I am, let me know and I'll edit this post), but your recipe is a slightly elaborate version of a French classic. For discussion purposes, here's a more streamlined version I adapted from the long out-of-print La cuisine mijotée:

Rabbit Braised with Prunes and Beer

Lapin de garenne aux pruneaux

1 rabbit, cut into 7-8 pieces

2 tablespoons butter

4 ounces (100 g) bacon, cut into lardons

8 pearl onions, peeled

2 tablespoons (15 g) instant-blending flour

2 carrots, peeled and cut into rounds

10 medium-size prunes, pitted

1/3 cup (75 g) golden raisins

1 2/3 cups (400 ml) beer, preferably a not-too-hoppy extra pale ale or pilsner

1. Two hours before you cook the dish, place the prunes and raisins in a small bowl, add warm water to cover and set aside.

2. Blanch the bacon in boiling water for 2 minutes. Drain. Put it and the butter in a heavy-bottomed casserole or sauté pan. Turn the heat to medium low and sauté until the edges begin to brown. Remove from the pan.

3. Turn the heat to medium. Add as many rabbit pieces as will fit without crowding. Brown on all sides, adjusting the heat to keep the fat from burning. Remove pieces from the pan as they finish browning, replacing them with unbrowned pieces.

4. When all the rabbit is browned, add the onions and the carrots. Sauté for 5 minutes. Add the rabbit, the bacon, the beer, a small pinch of salt and a few grindings of pepper. Turn the heat to low, cover and simmer gently for 30 minutes. Add the drained prunes and raisins. Cover again and simmer another 20-25 minutes.

5. Put the flour in a small bowl. Add two tablespoons of sauce and stir until blended. Repeat, adding sauce in small increments, until one cup has been added. Pour the mixture back into the pan, stir and simmer 5 minutes more.

Four servings

Ingredients aside, the main difference between the recipes appears to be the cooking time. By my calculation, your rabbit cooks for nearly two hours after browning. That strikes me as awfully long. The only time I do something similar is when making a rabbit-based pasta sauce, in which case the meat does indeed end up "falling off the bones" (to quote your recipe), no almost about it. Have you tested your recipe? If not, you probably should.

By the way, one danger with long-cooking rabbit is that it can become dry, like overcooked chicken breast. Avoid this by browning at no higher than medium heat and simmering at very low heat, with only the occasional bubble breaking the surface.

In any case, bleudauvergne is right. In the context of your meal, you should probably count on around five servings per rabbit. As I suggested above, however, the front legs are scrawny, bony and hard to eat elegantly; they'll put your diners' knife and fork skills to the test. You might consider saving them for another use and buying a sixth or seventh rabbit to cover the shortfall.

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I agree with the four to six portions per rabbit estimate. It depends on how the rabbit is cut up. The rabbits we bought in France were always cut into six pieces. The ones we've gotten here are cut into quarters.


SuzySushi

"She sells shiso by the seashore."

My eGullet Foodblog: A Tropical Christmas in the Suburbs

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Thanks for the heads up on this recipe, It was sent to me by the member of our chapter who is team lead for the event. I am equally as concerned about the long cooking time as you are. We will either adopt the recipe you posted or adjust ours to reflect the suggested cooking time. Thanks again.

EJEBUD


President

Les Marmitons-NJ

Johnson and Wales

Class of '85

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Last time I served braised rabbit as part of multi-course meal I used one rabbit for 4 people. In the end, 2 got hind legs, and 2 got saddle and front leg pieces. I think everyone was happy with their portions.

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Thanks for the heads up on this recipe, It was sent to me by the member of our chapter who is team lead for the event.  I am equally as concerned about the long cooking time as you are.  We will either adopt the recipe you posted or adjust ours to reflect the suggested cooking time.

I like the look of your recipe, ejebud. The addition of thyme, bay leaf and clove is appealing and the garlic would do no harm. Chopping several large onions is easier than peeling many pearls, though the latter make for a more elegant presentation. (I do like the carrots in my recipe, however, for the colour and layer of flavour they provide.) In the end, the only hesitation I would have is the vinegar, but even so the quantity almost qualifies as homeopathic. Still, the vinegar and long cooking time have me wondering whether your recipe was originally for wild rabbit. Do you know?

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We have done a Rabbit terrine which is probably not suitable as it takes a few days from prep to tasting. I have a recipe for Roasted saddle of rabbit with a Mustard-Tarragon sauce. PM me if interested.

I am in India now and a few hours ago, I drove past a sign selling 'Rabbit kebab'. I am shivering with anticipation. A google here revealed a "Blueberry & leek rabbit kebab recipe is marinated rabbit cubes and leeks chunks in a fruity blueberry sauce. For a great evening meal try with rice, chutney and a salad." Surely, that beats boring rabbit saddle with mustard anyday!

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