White Wine-Braised Rabbit With Mustard
This is a version of lapin à la moutarde, a homey, traditional French dish still popular in old-fashioned Parisian bistros at lunchtime. Yes, there are quite a few steps required to put this dish on the table, but probably no more than 30 minutes of active work. It is essentially a one-pot meal, with a little fiddling. The pleasingly sharp, succulent, saucy result is worth the extra effort. Get your rabbit in a butcher shop if possible, and ask to have it cut up; if your only option is a whole rabbit, it’s not much more difficult than cutting up a chicken. Serve with noodles if you'd like, or rice, mashed potatoes or steamed new potatoes.
- Serves: 4 persons
- 1small rabbit, about 3 pounds, cut into 6 to 8 pieces
- Salt and pepper
- 3tablespoons lard or vegetable oil
- 1cup all-purpose flour for dredging rabbit, plus 2 tablespoons for sauce
- 1large onion, diced (about 2 cups)
- 1cup dry white wine
- 2 ½cups chicken broth
- 1tablespoon whole-grain mustard
- 2thyme branches
- 12sage leaves
- ½cup crème fraîche
- 1tablespoon Dijon mustard
- 1teaspoon chopped capers
- ¼cup thinly sliced chives
- 1pound cooked pappardelle pasta or wide egg noodles, for serving (optional)
Step 1Lay rabbit pieces on a baking sheet and season each piece generously with salt and pepper. (If you are using a pepper mill, adjust it for coarse grind.)
Step 2Heat oven to 375 degrees. Put a deep, heavy-bottomed, oven-safe saucepan or Dutch oven over medium-high heat and add lard or oil.
Step 3Put 1 cup flour on a wide plate. Dip seasoned rabbit pieces in flour and dust off excess. Gently set them in the hot oil in one layer without crowding; work in batches if necessary. Adjust heat to keep them from browning too quickly. Cook for about 3 to 4 minutes on each side until nicely browned.
Step 4Remove browned rabbit from pan and set aside. Add diced onion to fat remaining in pan. Keep heat brisk and cook onions until softened and lightly browned, stirring occasionally, about 5 to 6 minutes. Season with salt and pepper.
Step 5Sprinkle onions with 2 tablespoons flour and stir until well incorporated, then cook for a minute or so, until mixture starts to smell toasty. Add wine and 1 cup broth, whisking as the sauce thickens. Whisk in remaining broth and the whole-grain mustard and bring to a simmer. Taste for salt and adjust.
Step 6Return browned rabbit pieces to the sauce. Add thyme and sage. Cover pot and bake for 45 minutes to 1 hour, until meat is fork tender. (Alternatively, simmer over low heat, covered, on the stove top, for about the same amount of time.)
Step 7Using tongs, remove rabbit pieces from sauce, set aside, and keep warm. Put saucepan over medium heat and bring contents to a simmer. Whisk in crème fraîche, Dijon mustard and capers and simmer until somewhat thickened, about 5 minutes. Taste sauce and adjust.
Step 8Transfer rabbit to a warmed serving bowl and ladle the sauce over. Sprinkle generously with chives and a little freshly ground pepper. Accompany with noodles if desired.