Bringing Bunny Back – Rabbit Saddle Stuffed with Dried Fruit

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Rabbit doesn’t seem to be very popular anywhere but in France where we are also known to be eating such weird things as frog legs, snails and the other clichéed mouldy cheeses. Anyway, after posting so many sweet recipes, i decided to finally post something savory, and to make sure i had all your attention, I chose to cook a shocker – hence, the bunny.

The taste and smell of rabbit is to me forever linked to the house in Savoy where my grandmother (not the parisienne, obviously!) was born and raised, and where my great uncle and great aunt lived up until their death. This house you see, was a farm. A real farm, with crops, raspberry patches, a chicken coop, a rabbit house, a tractor that could be climbed upon, a well and an outhouse (no indoor bathroom!). It also boasted a real wood-fired cast iron stove that was used to cook and bake everything the farm produced.

Whenever we would come and visit, my great aunt would invariably either serve us a chicken, or a rabbit. Both were ‘readied’ for the meal right before our eyes. My great uncle would hang the rabbit by its leg on top of the ladder that was leaning on the barn and with one smooth gesture, he would skin it. I don’t really remember being grossed out, but it really stuck in my memory and comes back whenever I eat rabbit.

The dessert by the way, was even more invariable: a custard tarte with pink pralines. My mother and my grandmother have both tried to replicate it, but it seems the flavor would always pale in comparison to the one my great aunt made in her old stove. My grandmother gave me a copy of this particular recipe in a book of family recipes that she compiled for our wedding, and I have since sworn to try the recipe as well. But I digress. Back to the bunny…

The recipe comes from the fall issue of ‘Elle à table’, which featured different ways to prepare rabbit saddle (aka bunny back). The one with dried fruits in a honey-ginger-soy marinade caught our eyes, but since the original recipe called for skewers and that is both a bother to prep and a bother to eat, my mother and I decided to roast the saddle as a whole in the oven instead.

The meat was delicious and tender, and we served it alongside peppered pears, as the recipe suggested. However, with dried fruit, the honey-bases marinade AND the pears, there was a a slight sweet overkill. Next time, I’ll use fewer dried apricots.
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Rabbit Saddle Stuffed with Dried Fruit

adapted from Elle à table
Prep Time: 15 min roasting time: 40 min

For the stuffed saddle
500 g rabbit saddles
16 dried apricots (I’d use less, 12 maybe?)
8 prunes
For the marinade
4 Tsp sesame (again, 2 Tsp would have been plenty)
1 cm peeled and grated ginger
2 Tbsp soy sauve
4 Tbsp honey
2 Tbsp olive oil
For the pears
4 middle sized ripe pears
Juice of 1/2 a lemon
1 Tbsp butter
mixed pepper, to taste

roasting pan, non-stick pan, twine

Preheat the oven to 190. Lay the saddles back side down on a cutting board and stuff them with the dried fruits. Roll up and bind them shut with twine and lay them in the pan.
Next up, make the marinade by mixing the honey, soy and ginger together. Pour over the saddles and chill while you prep the pears.
Peel and slice the pears. Toss in the lemon juice
Stick the saddles in the oven. You might want to cover them up with a lid or aluminum foil for part of the time (I covered mine for the first 25 min or so) to prevent them from drying out. About 10 min before your rabbit is done, melt the butter in a pan add the pears and cook until translucent. Serve hot.

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