Sunday – Lapin au Saupiquet (Rabbit)

It is Saturday afternoon and preparation of my Sunday meal is underway.  I began yesterday evening.

Based on your feedback …

Total Votes: 791

… about which rabbit dish to make (notice that is which rabbit to make and not whether or not to make rabbit) I chose Lapin au Saupiquet or Rabbit Marinated in Vinegar and Herbs, and stewed in Red Wine.

I am using the recipe in Julia Child’sJulia Child Mastering the Art of French Cooking, provided by a reader, by the way. Oddly, it is the sole rabbit entry in the books.

Here is the new book open to its page.  I will make note and also jot the date I made it, animi caussa.

The first step after obtaining the ingredients – and I had a few things on hand useful for this dish – you need to start the marinade.

You start with red wine vinegar.  Child’s recipe makes a distinction about the harshness or sharpness of the vinegar and adjusting the recipe accordingly.  I thought my vinegar was overly sharp, so I used a smaller amount as she suggested.

You will need juniper berries.  I happen to have some on hand because I use them when making pork ribs with sauerkraut, which I did a couple times this winter.  They are small, round, and bluish-back.  I sorted out those that didn’t look good.  Also, I added a few more than Child suggests, simply because I like the flavor, but not so many as you see in my hand, below.

Note that I added an extra bay leaf, simply because they have been around for while and have lost something of their flavor over time.

I didn’t have to buy rabbit… ehem… and I will spare you some of the details.

I did, however, want to trim out some of the fat.

I think this rabbit was more along the lines of Peter than Bugs.

When working with meat, especially poultry, always always always wash everything with very hot water and soap.

Knives, cutting boards, any other utensils, sink, counter top around the area… because stuff splashes and spreads.  Even spray them down with disinfectant.

HANDS.

It is just better not to take any risks. Get into a discipline of washing knives and boards right away.

The rabbit in the marinade.

It gets covered and placed in the fridge from Friday night until I will start the cooking process tomorrow, Sunday.

Several times on Saturday, I spoon marinade over the meat and shift it around.

Julia says in the recipe to use a bulb baster, but I don’t have one.  Thus, I tip the container and use a spoon.

Note: you don’t have to have liquid covering the meat.  Just need to move it around, spoon it over from time to time.  The olive oil in the marinade helps the liquid adhere to the surface of the meat.

The marinade both preserves the meat, imparts flavor, and tenderizes.

Remember that meat is muscle.  When you put a piece of meat in a very hot pan you will see it instantly start to shrink.  That is because the little interlocked muscle fibers, which are protein, contract with heat.  When you tenderize (mechanically by pounding, or chemically by wet or dry marinade) you effectively are unbinding the interwoven muscle fibers by breaking down the peptides in the protein, so that when they contract in the heat they don’t make a denser and tough fabric.  This is also why cooking meat very slowly helps to make it more tender.

I included the kidneys and liver, but not the head as is often done in Italy, France, etc.

So… tomorrow, Sunday, I will have to make the braising sauce, or sauce au Saupiquet (a sharp sauce for meat, game) which will involve several steps including browning the lardons or think bacon and also the sauce for serving.

The serving sauce will be as Child recommends: the cooking liquid from the rabbit in which I will cook prunes.  That will be the only tricky part, I think.  I will have to reduce the cooking liquid after removing the rabbit, which I will then keep warm in the cooling oven while I work that last few busy minutes.

For vegetable, Julia suggests “parslied potatoes, buttered noodles, or steamed and buttered rice, and a simple green cegetable such as sauteed zucchini, buttered broccoli, or green beans.”   I don’t know.  I am leaning in a another direction.  I think I will make the famous rutabaga sitting on my counter since the evening the surprise elk arrived.  The added bonus is that the person who brought the elk – and ergo the rutabaga – is coming to eat.

Beyond that I am not quite sure. Perhaps asparagus.

UPDATE 23 May – Sunday – 2115 GMT:

Well… it’s done.

This was an intense piece of work for a Sunday, I can tell you.

Kitchen work is pretty hard core when up against a clock.  At the end of my prep, I had to go take a shower and change clothes, which is not unusual for working in a hot kitchen and with such ingredients.

To the task.

I decided to make the rutabaga with a recipe I found in the same volume of Julia Child’s book, a purée. It sounds fancier in French… A purée “Châteaux en Suède”.
Not easy work, especially without a food mill!  But, I managed. Julia adds a note that the French don’t eagerly turn to rutabaga in classical cooking, because it reminds of the time of terror and famine when people were starving and nothing better would grow.  I know that in farms in the USA, in the part of the world I grew up in, when they were clearing land, picking rocks, tearing out stumps with the great “muckle horses” and turning the sod, the first crop was sometimes rutabagas: which would grow in poor soil.   But I think they retain something of the bitterness of famine.

A purée “Châteaux en Suède”.

Some shots of this actually went on concurrently with the prep for the rabbit.

What to use?

Eventually I found the knife worked best.

Root veg is often coated in wax.  You would do well to work on paper towel or wax paper to save a cutting board cleaning step.

I refer you to Mrs. Child’s recipe.

Into chunks, with butter and salt and water.

Cook.

Reserve the cooking liquid which you will need later, and start mashing or putting it through a mill.

I would eventually resort to a hand mixer I had out for purposes of dessert.  See below.

In the meantime, I had trimmed fat from bacon and rendered some of the fat, which went into a pan.

Flour to make a roux.

Bubble it without browning.

Start mixing in the cooking liquid from the rutabaga.  Beat till smooth.

Mix in the rutabaga and add liquid as needed.

Eventually heavy cream goes into this.

In the meantime, at the same time I am doing this, I am also working on the rabbit.. remember the rabbit?

More bacon in the preparation of lardons: cut it up and blanch for a few minutes.

175 – 180 is good…

This helps to strip out some of the fat.

Brown the lardons and add onions and continue to brown.

In the meantime… extract the rabbit from its marinade and, as Julia puts it, “dry thoroughly” with paper towel.

This is important, as anyone who has cooked will tell you.  You don’t want to add anything to a pan of hot oil that has cool liquid on it!  Bad.

So, be thorough.  It also helps the meat to brown, which is the point of this step.

Onions and lardons are browned.  Extract and add more oil for the rabbit, going in next.

Brown it well, in stages if necessary.  Don’t crowd, or it won’t brown well.

This is stage 2 and I am also browning the innards… liver, kidneys, heart.

When nice and brown, put it in your big casserole and start sprinkling with the flour.

Mix and sprinkle and toss and sprinkle and mix.

The flour has to cook for bit, just as flour has to cook, with fat, for a roux.

So, put this uncovered into a hot oven, 450F, for a few minutes, remove, put back in, cook for a few more, and then take out.

In the meantime, in that same frying pan, start reducing your reserved marinade to half.

Add your bottle of red wine.
Julia made recommendations and I chose a Côtes du Rhône, which was on sale.

This was a Paul Jaboulet Aîné Côtes du Rhône, “Parallèle 45” which has 60% Grenache ; 40% Syrah.

Some Côtes du Rhône have a higher percentage of Grenache, but I wanted a darker flavor and went with the 60/40.

Also, I liked the idea of Parallèle 45, since I grew up in Minneapolis directly on the 45 N latitude, the “45th parallel”.

Anyway, reduce the wine by half and, when reduced, add your additional beef stock and bring to a boil.

Keep your elements warm or hot so they don’t slow your process!  Pre-heat your oven, keep your pans warm.

It makes the kitchen hot and it is grubby work, but it goes more smoothly.

I worked as a cook to put myself through grad school and today, with the relatively high temperature, the under-pressure prep and the range ingredients brought it all back in a flash.

In the meantime, how is the cooking flour looking?

Start putting it all together.

And hour later… cooking it covered.  It is at a slow but steady bubble.

Extract your rabbit and put on a platter, cover with foil to keep it warm.

There is still a lot to do!

You have to make the sauce.

I used Julia’s suggesting for the serving sauce of prunes.

Effectively, I reduced the braising sauce till thick and then added prunes and the browned innards of the rabbit and cooked them down.  Simple.

I made sure the rutabaga purée was okay…. I made my asparagus… I made – oh yes – crescent rolls…. I am so not a good baker.

Another plate….

Another…

What to say about the rabbit and sauce…

The sauce had a tang and some sweetness from the prunes.  The wine was reminiscent of raisin and strawberry and it was very good for the recipe.  I am glad I got the higher percentage of syrah.

I think with the sauce I struck the right point of intensity.  I tasted through the last reduction process to get it right.

Slow cooking imparts a depth of flavor that express cooking doesn’t achieve.  You need patience for this, and the ability to keep a time line.

The last time I made a post like this, about the boeuf, I mentioned that I sometimes make timelines. I didn’t do that this time, but I probably should have.

I am finding that, so far, Child’s recipes are easy to follow and very sound in their results.  You produce what they promise.

Later.. dessert.

Remember when I said I had a hand mixer going?

I made whipped cream.

For the vanilla ice cream with banana and hot fudge.

With strong Colombian dark roast coffee and a shot of Grand Marnier.

Finis.

This recipe was pretty labor intensive, but, now that I have done it, it would go easier the next time.

The rabbit was very tender and the rutabaga smooth as silk.  The sauce, living up to its name was savory.

We had another bottle of the Parallèle 45 with the meal and you could really pick up the harmony of the sauce and wine glass.

I had the bananas on hand.

I had to buy the

heavy cream
wine
bacon
ice cream
asparagus
prunes
hot fudge

So, I probably came in with a grocery bill for this round about $40.

The rabbit was free.

I have enough leftovers for full meal of everything again, so, this would have easily served 6 people.

And thus endeth another Sunday supper.

I may now rest and, later, write my notes in my black book in which I record special meals and also in the cookbook where I will make observations and adjustments.

Make plans for Sunday meals with others.

From John Paul II’s Dies Domini:

72. The Eucharist is an event and programme of true brotherhood. From the Sunday Mass there flows a tide of charity destined to spread into the whole life of the faithful, beginning by inspiring the very way in which they live the rest of Sunday. If Sunday is a day of joy, Christians should declare by their actual behaviour that we cannot be happy “on our own”. They look around to find people who may need their help. It may be that in their neighborhood or among those they know there are sick people, elderly people, children or immigrants who precisely on Sundays feel more keenly their isolation, needs and suffering. It is true that commitment to these people cannot be restricted to occasional Sunday gestures. But presuming a wider sense of commitment, why not make the Lord’s Day a more intense time of sharing, encouraging all the inventiveness of which Christian charity is capable? Inviting to a meal people who are alone, visiting the sick, providing food for needy families, spending a few hours in voluntary work and acts of solidarity: these would certainly be ways of bringing into people’s lives the love of Christ received at the Eucharistic table.

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About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
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42 Responses to Sunday – Lapin au Saupiquet (Rabbit)

  1. chloesmom says:

    My Mom absolutely LOVED rabbit! However, my experience of seeing a bunny “prepared” for cooking ( omit gory details) in our kitchen forever turned me off consuming this particular animal. Mom, however, would definitely approve of your adventures in the kitchen. I’ll take your word for it that it’s good! Meanwhile, I’ll stick with salmon (last night’s dinner) or chicken!

  2. chloesmom: “Chacun à son goût”, as they say!

  3. Hans says:

    That doesn’t seem like a lot of juniper berries to me.

    You will need juniper berries. I happen to have some on hand because I use them when making pork ribs with sauerkraut, which I did a couple times this winter. They are small, round, and bluish-back. I sorted out those that didn’t look good. Also, I added a few more than Child suggests, simply because I like the flavor, but not so many as you see in my hand, below.

    It had never occurred to me how much juniper berries look like black currants.

    The best meal I can remember ever eating was based around an elk steak in a restaurant in Custer, SD about a dozen years ago.

  4. RichardT says:

    Father, that rabbit looks unusually fatty. Has your neighbour’s pet met with a nasty accident?

    Hope it tastes well though, and I look forward to your verdict on the recipe. Hope we made the right choice for you.

  5. FrCharles says:

    Over the years, I have been very grateful to Penzey’s. I saw their little jar in the post. I’ve always had good luck with their recipes as well. We got a lot of rabbit in the Capuchin novitiate in Camerino, but not so much among the brethren here in the States.

  6. Sacristymaiden says:

    Ahh, the lonely rutabaga…
    Will there be pictures of its progress to its final destiny forthcoming?
    Speaking of which, exactly HOW and with what other plants do you eat the thing?

  7. Sacristymaiden: I believe the roottie has no future after tomorrow morning.

  8. AnAmericanMother says:

    “Your father met with an accident there. . . . he was put into a pie by Fr. Z.”

    (with apologies to Beatrix Potter)

  9. Sacristymaiden says:

    But mightn’t the “roottie” at least have a properly publicized (and photographed) exit? Hint, hint.

  10. Stirling says:

    I’ll definitely try Child’s recipe if I’m fortunate to bag some rabbits this fall. Juniper is something I’ve never cooked with before and it sounds intriguing.
    P.S. the opinion poll’s percentage points add up to 101. Sorry, I’m a nerd.

  11. RMT says:

    This is a somewhat related question, since you brought up asparagus…

    Does the name asparagus come from the aspergilium, since the shapes are remotely similar?

  12. RMT: I think the word is related to the Greek ἀσφάραγος. Just a guess. The aspergillium has, I think, more to do with the verb aspergo, “to scatter; to sprinkle”.

  13. The-Monk says:

    You must have just viewed Julie and Julia!

    A couple of simple items that I’ve learned over the years:

    1) Use a plastic zip-lock type bag for marinating. All you have to do is shake it around a bit every couple of hours or so. When finished, toss away.

    2) By all means wash everything very carefully, especially when cooking poultry. But, you don’t have to be persnickety about cleaning. Instead, wash carefully, dry, and then spray the cutting board and countertop (especially) with a bit of a 6:1 mixture of of water:bleach and dry with a cloth or paper towel. I keep a spray bottle of the bleach mixture handy right next to the sink. Nothing will survive it ever.

    3) Juniper berries provide the chemical foundation for gin. Make a martini by pouring the contents through a sieve holding two or three smashed juniper berries. If they are more fresh than dry, the juniper berries strengthen the underlying aroma and may (some disagree) impart a better flavor. That having been said, juniper berries also provide the chemical foundation for the finest of sauerbraten. Use a brisket rather than an eye of round and marinade for several days. Serve with buttered, parslied spaetzle. The easiest and arguably best online spice store is Penzeys. I’ve recently happened upon another online spice store, https://www.myspicer.com/. I have found their dried spices extraordinary, especailly their curries.

  14. wanda says:

    Thank you for sparing us the ‘details’, Father Z. I look forward to more pictures as you progress and for your final verdict on the meal.

    Happy Sunday and Happy Birthday, Church!

  15. Timbot2000 says:

    I have found that for marinading large pieces of meat, such as several racks of ribs, a garbage bag is just the ticket.

  16. RichardT says:

    Monk, the zip-lock marinating tip sounds very useful; thank you.

    Timbot, sounds like dinners at your place are fun.

  17. Jack Hughes says:

    I’m beggining to like these Sunday cookery sessions

  18. Great! I hope they inspire you to get some people together for a Sunday meal.

  19. Sacristymaiden says:

    Many thanks for pictures of the rutabaga’s savory and stately exit!
    I gather from these pictures that they are cooked/used sort of like a butternut squash.

  20. susanna says:

    …and weft over wabbit on wramen..

  21. MKubes says:

    It’s the end of another school year and all I could muster up out of my sad, empty cupboards was some brown rice, green lentils, and a few chick peas! Haha, life as a student can be fun, but I’m looking forward to graduation (in 8 or so years…ouch).

    Looks good, Father – happy Pentecost to all!

  22. MKubes: I know what you mean. For me it was rice and lots of peanut butter. But a lot of the time I worked as a cook, so that helped.

  23. joan ellen says:

    Thank you Fr. I am always so amazed at how you manage to get so much done. Surely Our Blessed Lord likes how well you make use of your time.

    No wonder they say the best cooks are men. You are an example for other men. In my best days as a cook for my husband and children I never did such painstakingly good work. And today it is wash, peel, slice/dice eat or barely cook/heat and then eat.

    I do not eat rabbit, but my cousin Bobby and his wife Lois sure do. I will pass this link on to them.

  24. coletmary says:

    I had never wanted to eat rabbit before. Looks tasty!

  25. kallman says:

    Father I am a cardiologist. This food is tasty but very unhealthy. You should check your cholesterol level KA

  26. kallman: I appreciate the concern. Straight to the LAD! Honestly, the rest of my diet is pretty low in cholesterol. Long gone are the days of Polish sausage and eggs for breakfast and I have ramped up the exercise. Thanks for that.

  27. joan ellen: I do not eat rabbit, …

    I bet you could substitute chicken or, better, capon. I once made the Italian coniglio in umido and simultaneously duplicated the recipe in another pan with chicken and it turned out pretty well.

  28. Ralph says:

    Father,

    This recipe looks tough. Seems like it might be a two chef meal! Not sure I could handle what you just did, with the exception of scooping the ice cream :) Thanks for the play by play. I am learning.

    BTW, someone earlier in the conversation mentioned eating rattlesnake. Coincidently, I ended up having to kill two of the rattlers this weekend. Both were 3 – 3.5 feet long and plump. If anyone knows how to safely ship them without spoiling, I will be happy next time to send them to anybody who would like to eat them. These were the 3rd and 4th snakes this week and after reading everyones inventiveness with rabbit and cuy, I am starting to feel bad about wasting the snake meat. Lord knows I don’t want to eat them!

  29. Ralph says:

    Father,

    I don’t eat capon for emotional reasons. The method necessary to castrate a rooster to make a capon is brutal at best. I am FAR from an antimeat person. I eat veal and ask for seconds. I support hunting. I butcher my own poultry. But capon’s cross the line for me. Besides being somewhat cruel, the death rate is so high that it just seems wastefull to me.

    FWIW. Sorry to rabbit hole.

  30. Geoffrey says:

    Wow, seeing that finished rabbit brought back some memories! Another great post!

  31. Desertfalcon says:

    My mouth was watering reading this and looking at the pics, Father. One of my favourite meals-”Thumper”, a good root ‘mash’, and a nice Rhone. Like some here I would be hesitant at using the Juniper berries but you can’t go wrong with something from Child’s MAFC. I’m surprised they didn’t overpower everything though. I suppose a nice Gin Martini would have been an appropriate cocktail before tucking into the bunny.

  32. irishgirl says:

    I remember seeing a 1970s-vintage National Geographic picture of rabbits for sale in an open-air market in Malta.

    Never had rabbit…but your ‘cooking adventure’ made interesting reading, Father Z! The photos were really cool, too….how do you manage to cook and take pictures at the same time?

    Ralph-so THAT’S how capons are made? EWWWW…..!

  33. wanda says:

    Thank you Father Z. for all that you go through to share your ‘Sunday Supper’ with us and your company. I really almost feel like a guest, sharing in the shopping, preparation and cooking. Your photos really include everyone in the process, from how to’s to what things look like along the way. This meal looked like quite the workout for you.

    It’s good to ‘see’ how the meal is prepared, and what the meal should look like, etc. It can be kind of intimidating to try a recipe just looking at it on a printed page.

    So thank you for sharing your photos and hard work. Thanks also for the inspiration and encouragement. Your dessert did inspire our evening snack..ice cream, bananas and chocolate syrup.

  34. wanda: …share your ‘Sunday Supper’ with us and your company

    That is part of the point. One of the reason I post these is to inspire people to make something for Sunday and sitting down with people at a table and spend some time together.

  35. Ralph: rattle snakes … … If anyone knows how to safely ship them without spoiling, I will be happy next time to send them to anybody who would like to eat them.

    If you could keep them alive for a while, I have the addresses of a couple diocesan chanceries…

  36. Helena Augusta says:

    That meat did look uncommonly fatty. I used to keep rabbits for meat until I lost the stomach for butchering them and they were generally quite lean, leaner than chicken.

  37. RichardT says:

    Thank you for the pictures Father; that looked very good. And the Parallele 45 is a nice wine.

    I must try again at making a decent roux; whenever I do anything with flour it goes horribly wrong. Too heavy-handed I suspect.

  38. RichardT says:

    Love the idea of sending rattlesnakes to a couple of chanceries – but don’t forget to include a recipe.

  39. Maxiemom says:

    Poor Thumper.

  40. AnAmericanMother says:

    Richard,

    The secret to a good roux is a heavy, heavy pot and going slow. I follow the advice of Justin Wilson (the “Cookin’ Cajun” man):

    If I want a thick roux, I use 3 parts flour to 1 part oil. If I want a thin roux, I use 2 parts flour to 1 part oil. Mix the flour and oil in a heavy pot. A black iron skillet or a Magnalite skillet works best. Cook on medium heat slowly as the roux changes from a cream color all the way to a dark chocolate color. After the roux is past a medium brown, youve got to stir the roux constantly to keep it from burning. If you do burn the roux, throw it out, wash the pot and start over. The way I make a roux it takes from 45 minutes to more than one hour before it gets dark as I like it. I use a dark roux for all my gumbos and sauce piquants. For some gravies and sauces it is not as important to make the roux so dark. Some milk based soups call for a light colored roux. Even so, I usually make my lightest roux about the color of the water in the Mississippi at Baton Rouge. After my roux is cooked as dark as I want it, I add my chopped vegetables, like onion, bell pepper, and celery. I stir after each addition and love to hear the chopped onions sizzle in the hot roux. It starts to smell pretty good when the vegetables are added. Bell pepper and celery are taste killers, so dont use too much. You can use as much onion as you like. After the vegetables have cooked awhile and the onions are clear, put in the chopped parsley and green onions. I put in a little cold water or stock and then add fresh minced garlic, and stir all the time. After the garlic has cooked awhile, I stir in the liquids and all the other ingredients to make a gumbo, brown gravy hash or stew.

  41. RichardT: A common misstep is, I think, working with a pan that is too hot. Patience.

  42. The Monk: Make a martini by pouring the contents through a sieve holding two or three smashed juniper berries.

    What a great idea! Thanks!