Saturday, 16 January 2010

Jack Rabbit Cuisine

Stéphane Reynaud's beautiful book Terrine contains a number of recipes for Rabbit and Hare terrines. My own terrine was based on his Hare terrine with Marc de Bourgogne. Having no European Hare, I substituted Jack rabbit. Having no Marc, I generously substituted Cognac.

My Jack rabbit, killed the day before, was hung undrawn overnight in a cool (but not freezing) room. I skinned and butchered it the next morning saving the liver and heart. Rabbits and hares may carry Tularemia so inspection of the liver is required. It was beautiful. In my own experience, hanging game meat is a crucial step in bringing it to the pot, or grill, or oven. In the excellent  River Cottage Meat Book, Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall discusses hanging meat and game.   Fearnley-Whittingstall is a leader of the locavore movement in the UK and runs a farm called River Cottage in Dorsett.  He notes, that for any meat, a period of hanging relaxes the meat so it will be more tender. I am convinced this is a must for deer, elk and antelope.  He recommends hanging hares (undrawn) with a plastic bag over the head to collect the blood for the sauce.  I did not collect the blood (and have had bad luck with it curdling when added to a hot liquid in the past.) Oddly, he recommends gutting rabbits in the field (and thus not hanging them undrawn.)  Also, he recommends not marinating hare in alcohol because it pickles the meat.  I did marinate mine following Reynaud's recipe.


Mostly, I followed Reynaud's recipe. I have no kitchen scale so I was guessing at weights.  The body of the dish consists mainly of about 1/2 hare and 1/2 pork meats. I marinated the meats: Jack rabbit saddle and haunch, liver and heart, pork shoulder and bacon (pork belly) overnight in the Cognac, wine, and herbs (rosemary and thyme.) The next day I drained and dried the meat and mixed in the cream (seemed like a bit much) and added an egg hoping to get better results in terms of how it holds together.  This was a warning from one reviewer; that many Reynaud's recipes fail to hold together with American ingredients.

I do not own a terrine so I used a bread pan.  I especially like the black cast iron Staub terrine shown in the photo above from Reynaud's book, but it is not available in the US. Le Creuset makes one that is sold here.  Terrine's are cooked double boiler style, by placing the terrine pan half submerged in boiling water in a roasting pan.

The finely chopped meat was layered into the bottom of the pan with the Jackrabbit saddles (whole) laid in the middle and then another layer of meat with the top covered with bacon strips. Some terrines are covered for cooking, this one is not.  It is baked at 350F for two hours. As it cooked quite a bit of liquid built up in the pan and I siphoned that off with a turkey baster at one hour and again at 1 1/2 hours. Once cooked I put it in the refrigerator to cool. It is served cold.

After chilling I unmolded the terrine.  It held together reasonably well, not as well as I might have liked, but it could be sliced and served cold. We ate it with a fresh loaf of bread and a sharp blue cheese, some pickles and a glass of  Chardonnay.  I thought it was quite good and although I was worried that Penelope might not care for it, she declared it to be excellent.
Next time, I will use a bit less cream, add another egg, and perhaps add a dash of Cayenne to give it a bit of a bite.

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