Silkier than chicken, with a lovely, delicate flavor, rabbit is quick to prepare and impressive for dinner parties. Chef Vincent Francoual notes that this dish can be prepared a day or two ahead to reduce the stress of hosting. So brush off your French accent—and don’t forget to pour a glass of wine.
Makes 4 servings
1 quart chicken stock
1 rabbit saddle, deboned (two loins connected by flap, available at Clancey’s in Minneapolis)
1 Tbsp. Dijon mustard
1 Tbsp. honey
leaves from 6 sprigs fresh thyme
10 thin slices salt pork (or bacon)
In a large saucepan over medium heat, bring stock to a simmer.
Lay a piece of plastic wrap larger than rabbit saddle on a cutting board. Spread rabbit saddle flat on plastic wrap. Season with salt and pepper. In a small bowl, stir together mustard and honey, and brush saddle with mixture. Sprinkle thyme on rabbit and arrange pork evenly over the whole.
Use plastic wrap to roll saddle into a tight log, without rolling the plastic into it.
Roll and seal plastic tightly around the rabbit roll and twist the ends of the plastic (like a Tootsie Roll) to make an even, sausage shape.
Tie both ends with string.
When broth is simmering, reduce heat to medium-low.
Drop plastic-wrapped rabbit saddle into broth, press a clean dish towel over the top of the rabbit to hold it down into broth (the towel will be wet with broth; make sure edges of towel are in the pan), and simmer gently (reduce heat if necessary) for 10 to 15 minutes, depending on thickness. (When done, saddle should feel firm.)
Pull rabbit from broth, unwrap, and slice gently into thin slices.
Divide among four plates and drizzle with a bit of oil.
Serve immediately, with Francoual’s Brussels sprouts salad (recipe below).
Brussels Sprouts Salad
Vincent Francoual, executive chef/owner Vincent A Restaurant
Best served with Chef Vincent Francoual’s Rabbit Loin
1 lb. Brussels sprouts, leaves pulled off the cores (discard cores or use for vegetable stock)
8 Tbsp. almond (other other nut) oil
2 Tbsp. red wine or sherry vinegar
salt and freshly cracked black pepper
Fill a large bowl with ice water and set aside.
Set a large saucepan of water over high heat. Add salt to water until it tastes like sea water. When the water boils, add Brussels sprouts leaves. When leaves turn bright green and are just tender, about 3-4 minutes, use a slotted spoon to transfer leaves to ice water. When leaves are cool, drain thoroughly and spread on a paper towel. Set aside.
Make a light vinaigrette by scattering a pinch or two of salt and several grinds of cracked pepper into a medium mixing bowl. Add vinegar and whisk to dissolve salt, then whisk in oil. Add Brussels leaves to vinaigrette and toss to coat. Add a bit more salt to taste if needed.