During the 18th century, Monsieur Maille created truly royal mustards, many of which are still in use today. He was the official vinegar distiller to the king, and it is said that Mme de Pompadour would commission his aniseed vinegar by the barrel. He was famous throughout the continent for his flavored vinegars, which he then made into equally famous mustards.
Many grocers today carry the Maille label of mustard. It comes in a squat jar with a black label. The mustard itself is wonderfully coarse, full of golden, crushed seeds bathed in a heady vinegar base. It is precisely the type of mustard that makes this dish so special. Its tartness and rough texture give the sauce depth and body, making it robust enough to blend successfully with the whole wheat pasta, yet the creamy base is mellow enough to bring out the sweet, subtle flavor of the rabbit. If you cannot find Maille mustard, then substitute with a coarse ground Dijon.
If the rabbit is whole, cut it into the standard six pieces: 4 legs and 2 tenderloin pieces. Add salt and fresh cracked pepper to taste.
Cut the sage leaves into very thin julienne; kitchen shears are ideal for this, or use a very sharp knife. Set the sliced sage aside.
In a large skillet or flameproof casserole, heat 1 tablespoon butter and the canola oil over medium-high heat until hot. Brown the rabbit pieces on both sides. This should take about 3 minutes per side.
While the rabbit cooks, bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the spaghetti and cook until al dente. Drain, reserving some of the pasta water. Using the same pot, heat 2 tablespoons butter with 2 tablespoons of the cooking water. Return the pasta to the pot and toss to coat. Cover and remove from the heat while you continue with the rabbit.
When the rabbit has browned, add the white wine and chicken broth to the pan, scraping up any browned bits, then cover and simmer on low for 5 minutes. Stir in the creme fraiche, mustard and sliced sage leaves. Heat on medium until the sauce coats the back of a spoon and all flavors are blended. Taste to correct the seasonings, adding salt and pepper if desired.
To serve, place the pasta on a serving platter. Arrange the rabbit pieces on top and pour the sauce over the rabbit and pasta. Garnish with fresh sage leaves, if desired.
Serve with a salad of red leaf lettuce and hearts of palm, in a dressing of Rhubarb-Ginger Vinegar and walnut oil. Top with fresh chives.
©1994, Katherine Heyhoe. All rights reserved.
This Archived Page created between 1994 and 2001. Modified August 2007
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