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Rabbit with Saffron

Rabbit with Saffron

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Serves 8.
By Dennis W. Viau; modified from a recipe in Culina Mediterranea by Ullman Publishing.

Rabbit tastes so much like chicken you could substitute chicken pieces for this recipe. You might find rabbit frozen in many supermarkets. I bought rabbit for this recipe at under $20. Rabbit meat has many health benefits, being high in protein and lower in cholesterol and saturated fat than chicken, turkey, beef, or pork. Although I am using pasta in this recipe, you could serve the rabbit over steamed rice, either white rice or brown rice. A mixture with wild rice would be especially good.

Ingredients:

1 generous pinch of saffron threads
About 3 pounds (11/3kg) rabbit pieces
¼ cup (60ml) extra virgin olive oil
3 cloves garlic
2 sprigs fresh thyme
2 to 3 fresh sage leaves
3 whole peppercorns
Salt to taste
¼ cup (60ml) dry white wine
Optional:
½ cup (120ml) chicken stock, preferably homemade
¼ cup (60ml) heavy cream
1 tablespoon sweet rice flour (or corn starch)
Pasta, such as pappardelle or fettuccine, enough for dinner guests

Directions:

If the rabbit is frozen, thaw in the refrigerator for 1 or 2 days.

Soak saffron threads in hot water (about ¼ cup/60ml) and set aside for 30 minutes. If the rabbit is not already cut into pieces, cut into sections by cutting carefully through the joints.

Heat oil in a large skillet. Whack the garlic cloves and the peppercorns with the broad side of a knife to break open. Cook the garlic in the hot oil for about a minute. Add the peppercorns, fresh thyme, and sage. (If the oil is really hot the thyme might pop and splatter oil; so stand back.)

Place the rabbit pieces in the oil, turning to coat. Season lightly with salt. Sauté, covered, over low heat for 30 minutes. (Note: The rabbit is not browned in this recipe. The saffron will add color.)

Add wine (and/or optional stock) to the skillet and simmer, uncovered, over medium-low heat for about 15 minutes to reduce the liquid to about half its volume. (You can raise the heat to medium if it appears to be reducing too slowly.) Add saffron and cook an additional 5 minutes, turning the rabbit pieces a few times to color evenly with the saffron.

Remove the meat and set aside. Strain the liquid. Optional: Thicken with cream mixed with sweet rice flour (or corn starch) to make a sauce for the rabbit and pasta. Cook the pasta according to package directions, if using. To serve, plate the rabbit (and pasta). Spoon sauce over the top. Serve hot.