The recipe indicates only the rear of the rabbit; there is practically no flesh on the rib section and the forelegs, and although they are as nicely flavored as any part of the rabbit and are the least likely to dry out during cooking, they are too skimpy to serve, at least first. If more than one rabbit is being prepared, these pieces can be put aside with the heads for a stew. Otherwise, split the rib cage, marinate it and the forelegs with the rest, and put all four pieces into a single large papillote to serve as seconds. (The liver cannot be used in this preparation; rabbit livers are extraordinarily large, one being a sufficient portion for a person. Cooked gently, seasoned, in butter on each side until firm but still pink, it is surpassed in delicacy only by calf’s liver.)
The aluminum foil is not as attractive as parchment paper, but the preparation is extremely rapid and the result otherwise as good. Care should be taken that no sharp edges or fragments of splintered bones are bared, perhaps piercing the aluminum foil and thus letting either steam or juices escape during cooking. The rabbit pieces may each be wrapped in a slice of bacon and, there too, if the bacon is fixed with a toothpick or other sharp stick, it must be so placed as to not touch the foil casing.
Pierce each piece of meat deeply, a number of times, using a small and sharply pointed knife and following the grain of the meat (straight through from one cut side to the other for the saddle sections; pierce at a sharp bias, almost parallel to the bone, but directed toward it, for the legs), forcing a healthy quantity of snail butter into each vent as you go. Sprinkle the pieces lightly but evenly with dried herbs, turn them around in a bowl with the olive oil, and leave to marinate for several hours (if time permits—not essential).
Enclose each, salted and peppered at the last minute and well coated with oil, in a large (
Copyright © 1974 by Richard Olney. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.