Friday, March 26, 2010

Belgian Ale Braised Rabbit

What better way to celebrate Easter than eat a bunny! It's better than coloring eggs, ain't it?

Thanks to a coworker with an actual rabbit farm, I was excited to cook some new animal. I've had rabbit before at Le Bouchon, and it's pretty tasty, similar to dark meat chicken. Maybe next time I'll use the organs, this time I was just concentrating on the braise. You can probably find some frozen, disjointed rabbits somewhere near you, or just google it. The answer to everything!

There's been a lot of Belgian ale wetting the whistle lately with Brugse Zot being the beer of the month at the Map Room. It's yeasty and slightly fruity and tastes like beer should. I've had the fortunate experience to taste a few pints at the Brewery De Halve Man in Bruges, Belgium. They do call the Map Room the 'travelers tavern' for a reason.

With a Brugse Zot in hand, I grabbed a different ale from Belgium for the braising liquid, a Gouden Carolus, which is hoppy and fruity and will get along very well with the little hopper. Well, not hopping much anymore. The braise did include a couple carrot chunks, I thought appropriate for the protein in question.

Belgian Ale Braised Rabbit
serves two

1/4 lb. slab bacon, sliced without rind or thick-sliced pre-cut bacon
3/4 C AP flour, seasoned with S&P
rabbit pieces if frozen, or 1 3 lb rabbit, butchered
2 medium onion, sliced thin
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 large carrot, peeled and cut into 1" chunks
20-26 oz. ale
1 bay leaf
fresh thyme sprigs
fresh thyme

Slice the bacon into 1/4" pieces, if you have some Nueske's bacon fat in the fridge, throw in a TB of that in a large pot over medium heat, a large ceramic pot with lid recommended. If you don't have some Nueske's bacon fat, you have something on your to-do list. Once the fat is rendered, remove with a slotted spoon and reserve.

Dredge the rabbit pieces in the seasoned flour, tapping off loose flour.

Brown rabbit on all sides, in batches if necessary.

Add the carrot, onion, and garlic, stir and cook for about 5 minutes until soft. Sprinkle a couple TB's of the leftover flour, if available, over the veggies. Cook for a couple minutes, stirring occasionally, then even everything out nicely for the rabbit pieces, return those to the pot.

Add the ale gradually, 1/3 at a time, so the liquid will thicken a little each time. This should be done over medium-low heat, with a slow simmer. Once all is added, toss in a couple thyme sprigs, rosemary, whatever you got.

Cook on a low simmer, covered, for about 75 minutes, until very tender.

For the sauce, I took about 1 C of the braising liquid, with one carrot piece and some onion, zapped that with an immersion blender. You could just spoon sauce over if desired. Definitely add the reserved bacon and some of the braised onions.

Enjoy, and Happy Easter!

Plated legs with sauce, bacon, onion and fresh thyme-

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