Civet de Lapin

Braised Rabbit Stew

Preparation info

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By James Peterson

Published 1991

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A civet is a stew that has been finished at the last minute with blood. In this recipe, large rabbits are first carefully larded and then braised. The braising liquid is used to heat the rabbit pieces and is then finished to order with the reserved blood. Large rabbits (5 pounds/2.25 kilograms after cleaning) are best for braising.


large older rabbits 2 2
cognac 1 tsp 5 ml
wine vinegar 1 tsp 5 ml
fatback 12 or 14 oz 350 or 400 g
garlic cloves, peeled 2 2
parsley ½ bunch ½ bunch
lard (optional) ¼ cup 50 g
onion, coarsely chopped 1 medium 1 medium
carrot, coarsely chopped 1 medium 1 medium
garlic cloves, unpeeled 2 2
brown veal or chicken stock 1 qt 1 L
medium bouquet garni 1 1


  1. Have the rabbits killed and skinned, and the blood saved in a jar containing the cognac and vinegar.
  2. Cut 12 ounces (350 grams) of the fatback into strips (lardons) about 6 × ⅜ × ⅜ inches (15 cm × 5 mm × 5 mm). Finely chop the peeled garlic and parsley and toss with the fatback lardons. Let this mixture sit for several hours or overnight.
  3. Remove the thighs and saddles from the rabbits. The saddles should be cut away from the front quarters so that three ribs remain attached to each side of the saddle. Remove the forelegs and cut the rib cages into three sections. Cut the heads in half. The saddles can be halved crosswise or boned.
  4. Thoroughly lard the saddles and thighs with the fatback lardons.
  5. Preheat the oven to 350°F (175°C). Cube and render the remaining 2 ounces (50 grams) fatback in a heavy-bottomed rondeau, or use already rendered lard. Brown the pieces of rabbit, including the forelegs, heads, and rib cages. Add the onion and carrot and unpeeled garlic cloves midway through the browning.
  6. When the rabbit is thoroughly browned, pour off any excess fat and add enough stock to come two-thirds of the way up the sides of the rabbit. Add the bouquet garni. Bring the stock to a slow simmer on the stove.
  7. Cover the rondeau with aluminum foil and a tight-fitting lid. Braise the rabbit in the oven until the pieces are easily pierced with a skewer, usually about 2 hours. Check from time to time to make sure the braising liquid is not boiling. After about an hour of braising, turn over the rabbit sections in the liquid so that what was above the liquid is now below.
  8. Remove the rabbit thighs and saddles and keep covered on a plate. Leave the oven on. Strain the braising liquid into a saucepan; discard the heads, bones, vegetables, and bouquet garni. (The forelegs can be eaten by the kitchen staff but should not be served.)
  9. Bring the braising liquid to a slow simmer and skim off any fat or froth that floats to the surface. Simmer and skim for at least 30 minutes.
  10. Place the rabbit thighs and saddles in a clean rondeau and add the braising liquid. Put the rondeau, uncovered, in the oven. Baste the rabbit with the braising liquid for 30 to 45 minutes, until the rabbit looks shiny and glazed.
  11. Strain the braising liquid and reserve. Keep the rabbit pieces covered until needed.
  12. If reheating the rabbit, which does it no harm, place the appropriate number of rabbit pieces per order in a saucepan with sloping sides or in a straight-sided sauté pan with a tight-fitting lid. Add about ¼ cup (60 milliliters) of braising liquid per order, cover the pan, and heat over low heat for 15 minutes.
  13. Just before serving, put 1 tablespoon (15 milliliters) blood per order in a stainless-steel bowl. Whisk in the hot braising liquid. Transfer the rabbit pieces to serving plates and return the braising liquid to the saucepan or sauté pan.
  14. Gently heat the sauce while whisking or blending with an immersion blender until it thickens. Don’t let the sauce boil. Serve over the rabbit.