4 young rabbit hind quarters or 1 young rabbit, cut into serving pieces
sea salt and freshly ground pepper
1/2 pound fresh porcini or cremini mushrooms, wiped, stems trimmed, and quartered
1 medium yellow onion, cut into 1/4 inch dice (3/4 cup)
1 medium carrot, peeled and cut into 1/3 inch dice (1/3 cup)
1 medium rib celery, trimmed and diced (1/3 cup)
2 shallots, chopped
1 head garlic, loose papery outer skin removed and sliced in half horizontally
3 large sprigs fresh rosemary
3 large sprigs fresh sage
1/2 TBSP whole juniper berries
1/2 TBSP whole black peppercorns
2 to 3 cups olive oil, for covering the rabbit
4 cups mixed salad greens, washed and dried
juice of 1 lemon
Preheat the oven to 350 F. Season the rabbit liberally with salt and pepper. Put the rabbit, mushrooms, onion, carrot, celery, shallots, garlic, rosemary, sage, juniper berries, and peppercorns in a heavy pot just large enough to hold the rabbit in a single layer. Pour on enough olive oil to cover. Transfer to the oven and cook until the rabbit is tender, 1 to 1 1/2 hours. Begin testing after 1 hour. Remove the pot from the oven and let the rabbit cool to room temperature.
Spoon the mushrooms and vegetables over the rabbit and serve immediately.
Toss the mixed greens in a bowl with 3 to 4 tablespoons of the olive oil from the pot used to cook the rabbit. Add the lemon juice and salt and pepper to taste, and toss.
Notes: 2009 New Year's dish. Served with Centine 2006, a blend of 60% Sangiovese; 20% Cabernet Sauvignon; 20% Merlot (aged an additional year in the wine cabinet) -- a bright fruity taste with medium to full-bodied mouth-feel. Bottled by Banfi (Montalcino).
I'd never done oil-braising before and had a brief moment of trepidation after settling on the recipe. The big surprise, however, was that the rabbit needed to be further butchered. In the past, it had come already cut into pieces. Despite wishing I had a boning knife, it turned out alright in the end. In any case, it came out really well -- infused with flavor and succulent. First recipe tried from this cookbook, and it bodes well for future applications....
As suggested in the cookbook, the leftover oil is also great to use for frying potatoes.
Also, leftovers re-heated a couple days later were really delicious; especially flavorful were the roasted mushrooms (should put more in the next time).
The leftover roasted garlic (if it doesn't entirely disintegrate) is good mixed into a spread or used to doctor up a pasta sauce.