Rabbit and Mushrooms in Velouté Sauce

rabbit in velouté sauce

Rabbit, as I’ve mentioned before, is an interloper to these shores. It was probably introduced for farmed meat and fur, by the Romans or Normans. Velouté Sauce is one of the 5 classic “mother sauces” of French Cuisine, as compiled by Auguste Escoffier in his Le Guide Culinaire (printed in 1903), which is still very much in use in culinary schools today. Sauce Velouté (or velvety sauce) is made with a roux of equal parts, fat and flour plus a clear stock, generally veal, but it can also be made using chicken, fish or vegetables. The other 4 classic sauces, are: Béchamel, Espagnole, Hollandaise and Tomate. They are called “mother sauces” because many other “daughter sauces” can be derived from them, such as Mornay from Béchamel, Madeira from Espagnole, Bearnaise from Hollandaise, etc.

My velouté sauce isn’t strictly speaking correct, since much of it is used to cook the rabbit, instead of being a sauce served with rabbit, but nevertheless, the main ingredients are there. Butter and olive oil provide the fat, the rabbit is dusted with flour and the remainder is stirred into the vegetables. A clear chicken stock is mixed into this roux, dry cider is used as a white wine substitute and a liaison with crème fraîche finishes off the sauce.

jointed

Rabbit and Mushrooms in Velouté Sauce recipe (serves 3):

1 wild rabbit (jointed)
3 rashers smoked streaky bacon (chopped)
1 large onion (chopped)
6 cloves garlic (finely chopped)
1lb mushrooms (chopped)
3 dessertspoons seasoned flour (with a touch of Colman’s Mustard)
3/4 pint clear chicken stock
1/4 pint dry cider
the leaves from 4 sprigs thyme
2 dessertspoons crème fraîche
a squirt of anchovy paste
a knob butter
a splash olive oil
sea salt and cracked black pepper (to taste)
chopped parsley (to garnish)

browned

Joint your rabbit, or ask the butcher to do it for you. Use 3 dessertspoons plain flour, seasoned with salt, pepper and half a level teaspoon of yellow mustard powder for dusting the bunny. Using a mixture of hot olive oil and butter, brown the rabbit in a cast iron casserole. Do this in batches – too many pieces in the pan (at the same time) will lower the temperature and the meat will poach instead of browning. When done, remove the rabbit to a plate.

bacon and onions

Using the same casserole and fat, soften the chopped onion. When it starts to go translucent, stir in the bacon.

mushrooms

Mix in 1lb chopped mushrooms and the garlic. When the mushrooms start to release some water, sprinkle the leftover flour on top and stir it in to make a roux.

stock

Combine with the stock and cider, bring to a simmer to allow the alcohol to burn off.

submerged rabbit

Mix in the anchovy paste and thyme leaves. Have a taste and add salt and pepper if necessary. Submerge the rabbit in the liquid, put the lid on the casserole and place in a preheated oven at 160º C for 1 1/2 to 2 hours – until the rabbit is tender.

casseroled

When the rabbit is done, remove it to a warm plate and cover while you add the finishing touches.

crème fraîche

Add two dessertspoon crème fraîche

swirl

and stir into the sauce. I recommend using the full fat French variety and not the low calorie version – genuine crème fraîche won’t spit when heated, whereas the low fat version is less trustworthy. Check the seasoning and adjust if necessary.

velouté

Return the rabbit to the velouté sauce and sprinkle on a little chopped parsley. Serve with boiled potatoes, seasonal vegetables and a glass of traditional cider, such as Wild Rabbit, from Secret Orchard. The dish itself tastes of sharp apples, umami (savoury) from the mushrooms and rabbit, combined with slightly sour cream – absolutely delicious!

Happy Easter!

Other Rabbit posts

About Mad Dog

https://maddogtvdinners.wordpress.com/
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8 Responses to Rabbit and Mushrooms in Velouté Sauce

  1. jmcheney says:

    Oh, how I would love to taste this, Mad. I reckon it will never happen, but it’s an absolute delight to read your enticing account of creating this feast. Thank you for it & Happy Easter to you too. And if I see the neighborhood bunnies doing the hip-hop in the moonlit driveway tonight I won’t worry for them, because they’ll never meet a velouté around here. Judith

  2. Eha says:

    Rabbit is a much hated interloper here who has done a lot of harm in this country. Yo the best of my knowledge not available in the supermarkets here . . . have no current access to local butchers but love the beastie and shall most decidedly file your moreish recipe for the tomorrows. Hope this finds your well and able to make the best of an abysmal time in our lives . . .

    • Mad Dog says:

      Thanks Eha – I think it’s our duty to make the most of those rabbits 😉
      I hope you have the very best weekend possible, relative to current circumstances.

  3. Ron says:

    Oh, to have a rabbit at hand so as to make such a luscious looking dish. As we’re self-isolating and can’t make it to the rabbit farmer, like Eha we’ll be tucking this one away for future use.

  4. Karen says:

    I should send this recipe to a friend who has been bemoaning the fact that rabbits have eaten her freshly planted fennel to the ground. I had joked that fennel infused rabbit would be delicious. Cooked in your recipe, she could get her revenge. 😁

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