Monday, July 5, 2021
Rabbit and Carrots
Rabbit and Carrots
There’s nothing quite like the intriguing flavor and sensational texture of a properly and carefully cooked rabbit. The legs require a moist cooking technique, such as braising or, as in this case, the confit method.
Traditionally, items to be confit are first cured in a salt and sugar mixture before being slowly cooked in fat. Due to the delicate quality of rabbit meat, do not cure the legs before cooking them slowly in fat. A big part of the attraction of this dish is the preservation of the delicate flavor of rabbit. The legs will be cooked with garlic, thyme, and bay leaves in a combination of duck and chicken fat. The confit method also helps to incorporate fat into the rabbit, which is a notoriously lean meat. After the legs are tender, they are cooled down to a safe temperature. When ready to serve, the legs will be breaded with an herb crust and heated in the oven until warm. The crust adds texture and aroma to the moist and tender legs.
The loin of the rabbit must be treated with great care and respect as it is extraordinarily delicate and can dry up and become elastic within seconds. The application of the sous vide technique is invaluable in this case. Typically, after a rabbit loin is cooked the appearance may seem drab almost to the point of being
unappetizing. Putting a hard sear on the outside of the loin and caramelizing the meat may add to the presentation factor but creates an unpleasant toughness that destroys the natural delicate nature of the rabbit loin. The sous vide loin is at its perfect doneness upon completion and ready for service. Maintaining a constant and precise temperature will ensure that the loin is cooked as gently as possible and will not exceed the desired internal temperature. The loin is placed in the Cryovac bag with garlic and thyme, and rabbit stock is used as the cooking medium.
In order to bring interest to the appearance of the loin, carrots, a perfect complement to the rabbit, are used. Juice the carrots to extract their liquid essence and establish a more versatile state of carrot flavor. Strain the juice through a chinois and then heat with a touch of agar and gelatin. The hydrocolloid agar is used to help set the juice into a more solid state when cooled, whereas the gelatin will contribute flexibility to the chilled carrot “jelly roll.” Once set, wrap the sheet of carrot around the cooked rabbit loin—which is heated before rolling—to create a perfect bright orange coating of carrot essence.
Place the crispy confit leg and delicate carrot-wrapped loin on top of a smooth carrot puree, made by cooking carrots in carrot juice and rabbit stock, along with garlic and thyme. Glaze baby carrots by cooking them in carrot juice and butter, showcasing their natural sugars. Remove the bottom halves of the baby carrots and stand the top half—with the greens attached—upright in the puree, as if melting downward into a delicious pureed form.
Chanterelle mushrooms are visually stunning and delightfully delicate and unctuous in flavor. Clean, rinse and thoroughly dry in order to allow for sufficient caramelization. Quickly sauté the mushrooms in a scorching hot cast iron pan to give a brief sear, just enough to cook them through, then remove from the pan and season with sea salt to maximize their flavor and texture.
The sauce for this dish is composed of a dark rabbit stock, made by roasting the rabbit carcasses, adding them to sweated mirepoix, and covering with water. Thyme, garlic and bay leaves are added to provide additional aromatic assistance to the stock. Strain the stock is after six hours of cooking and reduce to a glacé. Combine this glacé with an equal amount of rabbit stock, reduced slightly, and mount with butter to create the finished sauce. The rabbit glacé carries an incredible depth of flavor that will accentuate the delectable protein.
This delicate and precise treatment of rabbit maximizes its potential through the extraction of flavor and enhancement of texture and will eliminate the possibility of rabbit ever again becoming an afterthought to other, more pronounced and esteemed meats.