Nothing says Easter like a recipe for rabbit with carrots. It might make my Easter menus look macabre, but carrots are part of a rabbits diet, so serving them together is a natural pairing.
But this isn't just any old rabbit and carrots. The recipe is based off an old favorite of mine, an Italian method for braising large cuts of pork in milk.
Basically, you take a cut of meat, brown it, then braise it with a large quantity of milk and herbs. As the milk cooks, it naturally breaks and separates into curds, which are usually reduced and then spooned around the meat as a natural sauce.
Here I flavor the milk with black trumpets. You can substitute another mushroom if you like. If you're new to those mushrooms, take a look at Black Trumpet Mushrooms.
While you can use other root vegetables like parsnips here, carrots are high in sugar, and the sweetness pairs well with their meat. I'm particular about how I cook my carrots though. Here's my favorite way to cook them.
I get high quality carrots from a coop, typically with carrot tops attached I may use for another purpose like Szechuan Parsnip Leaf Salad.
I trim the carrots, leaving a small quantity of the green attached at the top. Next the carrots are scrubbed, but not peeled. Then I toss the carrots in oil season them with salt and pepper and roast them in a hot oven (400F) until barely tender when pierced. That's it.
The carrots steam in their skins, concentrating the sugar and making them extra sweet and delicious.
You can serve the rabbit simply as I've shown here, but it's also good with cooked leafy greens on the side.
Milk-Braised Rabbit With Black Trumpets And Carrots
- 1 3 quart braising pan
- 8 medium to small rabbit legs of 4 if they're large
- 1 lb common green top carrots or another flavorful variety, washed and peeled, with the top tender ½in portion of the leaves attached
- 2 qts whole milk
- 3 oz dried black trumpets
- 1 qt strong homemade meat stock, like rabbit or chicken, plus a little extra for cooking the carrots
- Bouquet garni wrap these in cheesecloth and tie closed 5 sprigs of thyme, 10 black peppercorns, 1 bay leaf, and a clove of garlic
- ¼ cup shallots diced ¼ in
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
- Cooking oil like grapeseed, or animal fat, like duck fat-a few tablespoons
- Kosher salt and pepper
- ½ cup dry white wine
- All purpose flour as needed for dredging the rabbit, a gluten-free flour would be fine too
- Fresh cut chives to taste
- Rehydrate the dried trumpets in the meat stock for 20 minutes, then agitate to remove dirt, remove them from the stock, then strain the stock and reserve and reserve the two separately. Preheat the oven to 300 degrees.
- Heat a few tablespoons in of oil in a 6 in high roasting pan or wide brazier, season the rabbit all over with salt and pepper, then dredge in the flour and tap off the excess thoroughly.
- Brown the rabbit legs, making sure not to overcrowd the pan, then add the shallots, black trumpets, 1 tablespoon of the butter and cook for 2 minutes. Add the wine to the pan and de-glaze, then add the milk, bouquet garni, and remaining stock to the pan, or until the rabbit legs are barely floating in liquid.
- Cover the pan and place into a 300 degree oven. Cook the rabbit legs until they're just soft and fork-tender, about 1.5 hours depending on size. With a slotted spoon, remove the rabbit from the braise and cool. Transfer the liquid to a brazing pan and reduce, whisking occasionally, until the curds thicken and only about 2 cups remain.
- Transfer the broken liquid to a blender, then puree and transfer to a saucepan, season the sauce to taste with salt and pepper and reserve until needed. The rabbit can be made ahead of time and reheated, in fact, it's better the next day.
- Heat a tablespoon of fat in a wide saute pan until hot, then add the carrots and season with salt and pepper. Place the pan in a preheated 375 degree oven and cook until just tender, about 10 minutes. Before you plate them, add a little knob of butter and toss to coat.
Plating the dish
- Reheat the rabbit legs in the pureed trumpet sauce, double check the seasoning of the sauce, and make sure it's at least thick enough to coat the back of a spoon, if not more. The sauce can also be thickened by whisking in cold unsalted butter and heating.
- Put the carrots down on preheated dinner plates, top each pile of carrots with two rabbit legs, crossing the bones at 12 o'clock, nap with additional sauce, garnish with the chives and serve immediately.
If you love rabbit like I do, make sure to take a look at the following: