Lapin à la Moutarde
This is a dish that demonstrates how vital skilled butchery is to traditional French dishes. It showcases some favourite produce as well as some of the finesse of the butcher's block. In this preparation, a whole rabbit is broken down and portioned in different ways, roasted, then served in a mustard sauce alongside crispy tripe, buttered potatoes and cornichons.
1 stick of celery, diced
1 onion, diced
1 carrot, diced
6 peeled garlic cloves
1 bouquet garni (bay leaves, thyme and parsley stalks tied up with string)
1 rabbit jointed with the bone trimmings reserved (See method 1)
100g small dice pork back fat
200g unsalted butter
200ml grape seed oil
200ml double cream
250g Dijon mustard
4 large sprigs thyme
½ bunch flat leaf parsley
½ bunch Salt bush
12 x baby kipfler potato
200ml jar of baby cornichons
1 x whole lemon
200ml white wine
Salt and pepper
1. You can ask your butcher to do this for you.
Remove the front legs by pulling each leg away from the neck and breast, then cut straight through the seam to remove the top part of the shoulder.
Remove the neck and shoulder by cutting between the 4th and 5th rib, De- bone both parts of the shoulder and keep the bones and meat separate. Find the point where the ribs/racks finish and it turns into a loin, chop through the vertebra at that point. Then remove the loin from the back legs by finding the end of the hip bone and cutting through that point to separate the back legs and loin. Trim the racks and clean the bones, set meat aside. De-bone the loin as a saddle, keeping it intact with no holes (you are going to stuff the loin, so be careful.) Remove the hip gone and femur bone from the legs. Keep all the bones and trimming.
2. Start a rabbit stock by roasting the off the bones until golden brown.
In a heavy base pot add some grape seed oil and start sweating off the carrot, celery, onion and 3 cloves of garlic. Cook until translucent. Add the white wine and reduce by ½.
Add the roasted bones to the pot and bouquet garni, add about 2ltrs of water, bring to a very slow simmer and leave it to gently bubble away for at least 3 hours.
3. Make the farce to stuff the loin with all the trimmings and boneless shoulder, place all the meat into a food processer, add a few pinches of salt and pepper blend for a few seconds until the meat starts to form a paste.
Add the 3 remaining garlic cloves, the Madeira, parsley leaves, thyme leaves (no stalks). Blend until the farce is smooth in texture. Taste the mix and add more salt if required, fold through the diced back fat at the end.
4. Put the farce in a piping bag, lay the boneless loin out flat and pipe the farce in between the 2 sides of loin. Roll it up and wrap it tightly in cling film, wrapping it a few times so it is secure and tie the ends off tightly. Place the stuffed loin into the simmering stock and poach for about 45mins, or until the internal temperature reaches 60 degrees. Remove from the stock and set aside. (Any left-over farce that didn't fit in the loin can be wrapped in cling film, wrapped up and tied like a sausage and poached alongside the loin. Once cooked and cooled, this will be rabbit mortadella for another day.)
5. Truss the semi-boneless leg with string so that they are even in shape. Season with salt, and brown in a pan with some butter. When browned, transfer them into a baking dish and pour the stock and its contents over the legs. Bake the oven at 180 degrees, uncovered for 40mins.
6. Remove the baking dish from the oven and carefully remove the legs from the cooking liquid. Set them aside to rest in a warm spot.
7. Strain all the of cooking liquid into a pot.
8. Add to the cooking liquid the mustard, cream and zest of one lemon. Slowly simmer until the sauce has reduced and coats the back of your spoon. Season with salt and pepper to taste, and finish with about 80g butter. Keep on a very low heat till ready to use.
9. While the sauce is reducing, peel the baby kipflers and gently boil until they are just soft. Strain off the water and set aside to dry.
10. To finish the dish and sides, start with a knob of butter in a pan and heat until the butter is foaming. Remove the loin from the cling film and brown the outside on all sides, then remove from the pan and rest. Add another knob of butter and fry the salt bush until crispy. Add the potatoes and move them around until coated with butter and salt bush before tipping them into a serving bowl. Portion the leg and loin, arrange on a plate and pour over the sauce. Serve with baby cornichons on the side.
11. I also serve with my dish crispy tripe, which is optional. Boil a piece of honeycomb tripe in salted water for approximately 3-4 hours until soft. Strain and cool in the fridge. Once cool, slice into strips. In a heavy base pot, heat some oil until it is about 160 degrees and fry the tripe till golden brown. Remove from oil and place on a paper towel, season with salt.