Rabbit is an under-utilized and versatile protein, and we absolutely love this recipe for Rabbit Rillettes by Chef Cristina Topham. Rillettes are silky in texture (similar to foie gras or paté), and they make for a unique and fun appetizer for your next dinner party. Pair this recipe with our 2012 Oakville Cabernet; your guests won’t be disappointed!
By Chef Cristina Topham
Yield: about 3-4 cups
1 3-pound rabbit
½ cup kosher salt
2 sprigs rosemary
3 sprigs thyme
1 teaspoon coriander
1 teaspoon black peppercorns
1 Turkish bay leaf
1 head of garlic, cut in half through the center
6 cups duck fat, or enough to complete submerge rabbit
To Finish Rillette:
Duck fat (from confit)
1 ½ teaspoons fresh thyme, minced
½ teaspoon rosemary, minced
1. In a plastic bag or mixing bowl, sprinkle whole rabbit liberally with salt to coat. Cover and refrigerate for 6 hours or overnight, but no longer or rabbit may become too salty.
2. Preheat oven to 325 degrees Fahrenheit. Rinse all the salt off of rabbit, pat dry and cut into 6 pieces.
3. In a medium Dutch oven or heavy bottomed pot, melt duck fat until just warm and completely liquefied. Carefully place rabbit pieces in warm fat along with herbs, spices and garlic. Rabbit should be completely submerged in fat.
4. Bring to a gentle simmer, cover with lid and place in oven.
5. Roast for 1 ½ – 2 hours, until rabbit is tender and falling off the bone. Remove rabbit and garlic bulb from fat, strain fat and reserve.
6. When rabbit is cool enough to touch, pick meat from bones.
7. Squeeze garlic cloves from bulb and add to rabbit.
8. Place rabbit meat and garlic in bowl of electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Run on medium speed until rabbit is finely shredded. Alternately, shred rabbit with two forks or by hand. Add minced thyme and rosemary and just enough reserved duck fat to bind rabbit and make it spreadable, about 1 to 1/2 cups. Mix well.
9. Pack rillettes into 8 oz. jars and coat with a thin layer of reserved fat. Rillet will hold in the fridge for 1-2 weeks and can also be frozen.
I love to serve this rabbit rillette on crostini with santa rosa plum preserves or with crusty baguette and cornichons.
Chef Cristina Topham is a freelance chef, cooking instructor and preserver based in Sonoma. Visit her website for more info: http://www.cristinatopham.com