Lapin a la graine de moutarde question...

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Lapin a la graine de moutarde question...

Postby Covert » Sun Jan 07, 2007 8:48 pm

Retreating to our camp in the northern savage fastness of New York State, I am looking forward to perfecting some game recipes. I may even start hunting a little to save money and imbue a little more gaminess into the game.

I picked up a book claiming to be a Cordon Bleu home cooking course. Many of the recipes are simple, but a few are gamier than what most Americans probably relate to.

Last night, with a ’79 Talbot (which I had hoped would be a little more sauvage than it turned out to be) at our sides, we tried our first recipe from the book, which was quite simple but tastier than I expected.

First you cut up a rabbit like they show you in the book (which was a lot of fun) basically into serving size pieces. Back legs were cut in half, while the front legs remained whole. The long body was cut into six pieces, buy first cutting it into three tube-shaped pieces and then cutting them in half. The top piece with the ribs was cut front to back, and the other two along the spine. Then you salt and pepper the pieces lightly and with a pastry brush, coat them with whole-grain mustard.

Next you roast the pieces in glass roasting dish at 450 for a half an hour, after coating it with some butter. After that, sprinkle a couple of chopped up large shallots over the pieces and roast it all for another five minutes. Then add a half a cup or so of white wine, roast another 10 minutes; then ¾ cup of heavy cream, and roast another five minutes.

Cordon Bleu suggested serving the lapin with pasta, but we substituted small, red baked potatoes, pureed rutabaga, and Brussels sprouts, which seemed to work fine.

As I mentioned, we were surprised at how flavorful this simple meal was. But I have a couple of questions:

It was a bit rubbery. Lynn and I didn’t mind the texture, but if such a dish were served at the Gramercy Tavern, it would have been much tenderer. (I know because I had rabbit there recently.) My question is: how would you make the rabbit tender?

It was a four-pounder, which means the live rabbit probably weighed seven or eight pounds: a big, maybe old, animal. Would a three-pounder be a better bet?

Secondly, the heat was high. But the texture of the rabbit surface (with adhered sauce) was excellent, which might be why they recommend the high heat. Last, the meat was cooked more well done than we would have selected. Not a touch of pink anywhere, including in the big thighs. If we cooked it at a lower heat or for less time, would that help; or would we sacrifice some of the taste that came from the heat and time?

We will keep experimenting, but any suggestions for improving this dish would be appreciated. Next weekend we’ll try a pheasant recipe!
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Re: Lapin a la graine de moutarde question...

Postby John Tomasso » Mon Jan 08, 2007 10:05 am

Yes, Covert, it sounds like your bunny was a bit too large to be tender - might have been better in a long cooked dish, such as rabbit stew.

The only other thing I can think of is perhaps it could have used a marination in something to tenderize it.
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Re: Lapin a la graine de moutarde question...

Postby Doug Surplus » Mon Jan 08, 2007 12:18 pm

Covert, that rabbit was a bi large for cooking at high heat. When I was still living in domestic bliss in a small town, we raised rabbits for food and tended to butcher them when they were around 4-5 lbs live weight. We prepared these a number of ways and they were always tender.

On the ocassion we had to 'retire' older rabbits, we would use them in a slow-cooked dish (like stew) so as to tenderize the meat.
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Re: Lapin a la graine de moutarde question...

Postby Covert » Mon Jan 08, 2007 12:41 pm

Doug Surplus wrote:Covert, that rabbit was a bi large for cooking at high heat. When I was still living in domestic bliss in a small town, we raised rabbits for food and tended to butcher them when they were around 4-5 lbs live weight. We prepared these a number of ways and they were always tender.

On the ocassion we had to 'retire' older rabbits, we would use them in a slow-cooked dish (like stew) so as to tenderize the meat.


Thanks, Doug, and John, too.

Doug, since you raised them, what would a 4 - 5 pound rabbit yield when cleaned for cooking, maybe 2 - 2 1/2 pounds? Thanks.

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Re: Lapin a la graine de moutarde question...

Postby Jenise » Mon Jan 08, 2007 2:59 pm

Covert. Though many people claim great results through high heat cooking, I'm not a fan, especially where delicate meats (rabbit would be one) are concerned. Better to have browned the rabbit on the stove top then move it to a slow oven, like 300. The meat will cook more evenly and the danger of overcooking is vastly reduced.
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Re: Lapin a la graine de moutarde question...

Postby Covert » Mon Jan 08, 2007 4:05 pm

Jenise wrote:Covert. Though many people claim great results through high heat cooking, I'm not a fan, especially where delicate meats (rabbit would be one) are concerned. Better to have browned the rabbit on the stove top then move it to a slow oven, like 300. The meat will cook more evenly and the danger of overcooking is vastly reduced.


Lynn wife agrees with you. So you think the high heat recommended by so many French cookbooks are mostly just for browning? Probably the sauce reduction works a little better at a high heat, but that wouldn't be such a great sacrifice to get the texture perfect.

I'll sneak this one in. If you cooked pheasant, would you serve it over a delicate stock sauce? That's usually how they serve it in fancy restaurants. If so, what kind of stock base would you use? I would assume demiglace would be too crude and heavy, right?
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Re: Lapin a la graine de moutarde question...

Postby Doug Surplus » Mon Jan 08, 2007 10:40 pm

Covert - yup, about 2-2 1/2 lbs.
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Re: Lapin a la graine de moutarde question...

Postby Gary Barlettano » Tue Jan 09, 2007 1:34 pm

Covert wrote:We will keep experimenting, but any suggestions for improving this dish would be appreciated. Next weekend we’ll try a pheasant recipe!


Ye olde fallback for game is to let it soak in buttermilk overnight.
And now what?
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