Braised Rabbit with Prunes Catalan Style

This recipe uses the rabbit legs left after you have cooked the saddles in the previous dish.

Ingredients

The Rabbit

  • 4 rabbit legs and thighs
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • ½ cup good brandy
  • ½ cup dry white wine
  • 1 cup aromatic vegetable mix
  • 2 sprigs fresh tarragon, stemmed, stems and leaves saved
  • 1 herb bundle
  • 1 cup stock, chicken or mixed chicken and veal
  • 4 prunes, pitted
  • 2 tablespoons fresh fennel leaves, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon finely grated orange zest Salt

The Sauce

  • 1 tablespoon black peppercorns
  • 2 tablespoons almonds, skinned
  • 1 clove fresh garlic, peeled
  • ¼ cup fresh pine nuts, toasted
  • 1 teaspoon mild paprika
  • ½ cup extra virgin green olive oil
  • Salt

Method

Season the rabbit legs. Put the olive oil in a nonreactive skillet and heat it to medium. Put the legs in the hot oil and turn them a couple of times to lightly brown them on both sides. Turn off the heat, pour in one-quarter of the brandy and flame it. Then add the white wine and cook another 2 minutes. Put the vegetable mix around the rabbit legs, and add the tarragon stems and herb bundle. Cover the pan and sweat over low heat for 15 minutes.

Add the stock, cover, and simmer very slowly until the legs are very tender, about 45 minutes more.

Meanwhile, put the prunes, fennel, orange zest, and remaining brandy in a bowl to marinate while the rabbit is cooking.

When done, remove the legs from the pan and keep them warm. Strain the cooking juices, discarding the vegetables and the herb bundle. Return the juices to the pan, remove any fat from the surface, and reduce by half to make the broth for the sauce.

Meanwhile, in a mortar and pestle or food processor, grind the peppercorns, almonds, garlic, pine nuts, and paprika with the extra virgin green olive oil.

Cut the rabbit legs away from the thighs, and put the 8 pieces in a casserole. Add the reduced broth and any juices that have collected with the rabbit legs. Bring the rabbit up to but not quite a boil. Add the sauce and the prunes to the rabbit, and stir gently. As soon as the rabbit is heated through (no more than 5 minutes), check the sauce for seasoning, and serve.

Variations

The rabbit legs could be braised the same way, and then put in olive oil and fresh thyme to marinate again for 30 minutes before grilling and serving with the lemon-fig relish. Or, one of the best ways to cook rabbit legs, especially the front ones, is to use the preserved fat method as for duck, then grill and serve them with the same lemon-fig relish.

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