- One 3 to 3 1/2 pound rabbit, cut into six to eight serving parts
- Olive oil
- 1 Tbsp butter
- 3-4 large shallots, sliced, about 1 cup
- 1 clove garlic, minced
- 1 cup dry white wine (or chicken stock with a tablespoon of vinegar)
- Freshly ground black pepper
- 7 ounces (200 grams) pitted prunes (dried plums)
- Several sprigs fresh thyme
- 1 bay leaf
- 1 rabbit liver (optional, should be sold with the rabbit)
- 1 Tbsp vinegar (optional)
For the soup:
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 2 stalks celery, halved lengthwise and thinly sliced
- 3 medium carrots, thinly sliced
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 teaspoon ground pepper
- 8 cups chicken stock (2000 ml)
- 1/2 cup orzo pasta (70 g)
- 5 ounces baby spinach, with any long stems removed (165 g, or 8 loosely packed cups)
- 1 cup grated Parmesan (128 g), for serving
- Brown the rabbit pieces in butter: Heat 3 Tbsp olive oil in a large thick-bottomed Dutch oven (I used a 5 quart) on medium-high heat. Add a tablespoon of butter. Pat dry the rabbit pieces, sprinkle all over with salt, and working in batches, brown on all sides in the pan.
- Sauté shallots, garlic, deglaze with white wine: Remove the rabbit pieces from the pan. Add the sliced shallots, reduce the heat to medium, and cook for 2 minutes. Add the minced garlic clove and cook for 30 seconds more. Add the white wine and increase the heat to high. Use a wooden spoon to scrape up the browned bits from the bottom of the pan. Let the wine boil, until reduced by at least a half.
- Place rabbit, prunes, thyme, bay leaf, on top of shallots in pan, cover and cook: Lower the heat to low (you may want to move the pot to the smallest burner on your stove). Arrange the rabbit pieces, prunes, thyme, and bay leaf in the pan. Sprinkle with black pepper to taste. Cover tightly and let cook for 45 minutes. (Cooking time assumes you are starting with a rabbit that has been brought to near room temp before cooking. If you are using a rabbit straight from the fridge, it may take a few more minutes to cook through. Also, if you keep lifting up the lid to check on the rabbit, it will increase the needed cooking time.)
- Optional step using rabbit liver: After the rabbit is cooked through, if you want, you can intensify the flavor of the sauce using the rabbit's liver. The liver should have been included with the rabbit from your butcher, just like whole chickens come with the giblets. (Don't worry, the liver won't make your dish taste like liver. You can even try just a little amount to taste to make sure. The liver acts as a "liaison", thickening the sauce and making it richer.) Purée the rabbit liver with 1 Tbsp of vinegar (I used wine vinegar, but cider or white vinegar will do). Remove the rabbit pieces, prunes, thyme sprigs, and bay leaf from the pot (discard thyme and bay leaves) to a serving dish. Whisk the puréed liver vinegar mixture into the sauce in the pot and cook for another 10 minutes. (If the sauce is still too thin, you can thicken further with corn starch or flour.) Then drizzle the sauce over and around the rabbit and prunes. Great served over egg noodles.
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