Master the art of French cooking this holiday season with The Country Cooking of France by Anne Willan. Recipes include Galettes Bretonnes au Sarrasin (Breton Buckwheat Galettes); Lapin Rôti à la Moutarde (Roast Rabbit with Mustard); and L'Oie Rôtie de Noël (Roast Goose with Apples and Vegetables).
Everywhere in France, Dijon mustard, hot or mild, with or without seeds, is used as a quick seasoning sauce when grilling or roasting. In this Provençal recipe, the mustard is bolstered with chopped herbs and plenty of garlic. Roasted tomatoes are the natural accompaniment.
Heat the oven to 350 degrees F/180 degrees C. Oil a roasting pan. Mix the 3 tablespoons oil and mustard in a small bowl, and brush the rabbit pieces generously with the mixture, reserving some for basting them as they roast. Put the rabbit pieces in the prepared pan, and sprinkle them with more oil and the basil, oregano, rosemary, salt, and pepper. Roast the rabbit until tender and golden brown, 45 minutes to 1 hour, adding the garlic cloves after the first 15 minutes. During cooking, turn the pieces from time to time, brushing them with more mustard mixture so they are always moist. Take care not to overcook the rabbit pieces or they will be dry.
For the tomatoes, core them and cut them in half through the equator. Oil a small baking dish and add the tomatoes, cut side up. In a small bowl, mix together the oil, bread crumbs, garlic, parsley, salt, and pepper, stirring to make a crumbly mixture. Spread it on the tomatoes. Bake them in the oven with the rabbit. When the skins split after 12 to 15 minutes, showing the tomatoes are tender, remove them from the oven, set aside, and keep warm.
When the rabbit pieces are done, transfer them to a platter with the garlic cloves and cover with aluminum foil to keep warm. For the onion jus, add the onions to the roasting pan and fry on the stove top over medium heat, stirring often, until golden brown, 3 to 5 minutes. Add the wine and bring to a boil, stirring to dissolve the pan juices. Taste, adjust the seasoning, and spoon the onions with their jus over the rabbit.
To serve, arrange the tomatoes around the edge of the platter. I do not advise reheating roasted rabbit because it will dry out, but you can cook it 3 or 4 hours ahead of serving, as both it and the tomatoes are excellent at room temperature.
Rabbit should be cut into equal pieces that will cook at the same speed. Trim and discard flaps of belly skin, tips of forelegs, and any other protruding bones. Using a heavy knife or cleaver, divide the rabbit crosswise into 3 sections: back legs, back, and forelegs including rib cage. Cut between the back legs to separate them, and then trim off the tail end of the backbone. Separate the forelegs in a similar fashion by chopping between the shoulders. Then cut the back (saddle) portion crosswise into 2 or 3 pieces, depending on the size of the rabbit. You should have 6 or 7 pieces. For 8 or 9 pieces, halve the back legs by cutting through the knee joint.
For simplicity, use sliced white bread for bread crumbs.
Bread crumbs, browned: Discard crusts and toast bread in the oven at 350 degrees F/180 degrees F until golden brown, 10 to 15 minutes. Let cool and work toast to crumbs in a food processor or blender. They may be stored in an airtight container for up to 3 months.
Bread crumbs, dry white: Discard crusts and dry bread in a warm place or very low oven until crisp. Let cool and work to crumbs in a food processor or blender. They may be stored in an airtight container for up to 1 month.
Bread crumbs, fresh white: Discard crusts from fairly dry white bread and cut into large cubes. Work cubes to crumbs in a food processor or blender. Use within 1 day.
For more French recipes, please visit France page.
This page created November 2007
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