Braised Rabbit With Marsala Wine and Wild Mushrooms
Part 1- Cooking the rabbit and beginning of sauce
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 cup diced onions
1 cup sliced celery
1 cup sliced carrots
3 cloves garlic peeled
2 rabbits, either whole or cut into serving pieces, I used thighs only for this. (I do 6-8 thighs)
2 cups Marsala wine
6 large dried porcini mushrooms, or whatever your preference (but must be dried)
1 bay leaf
1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves (sub 1 tsp dry if you don't have fresh)
1 teaspoon salt
freshly ground black pepper to taste
4 tablespoons butter divided
Part 2- sauce and more sauce- completion
8 ounces fresh cremini mushrooms, stems removed and caps sliced thinly (or whatever your preference, original recipe called for Shiitake)
2 tablespoons butter
2 cups thinly sliced onions
3 cloves garlic, finely minced
2 cups Marsala wine, divided
1 1/2 tablespoon tomato paste
Thick soy sauce
Roux brun made with 1/2 cup butter and 1/2 cup flour
2 tablespoons fresh thyme leaves
1 tablespoon fresh rosemary leaves, finely chopped
salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
Heat olive oil in the bottom of your stockpot or large dutch oven on medium heat. When it is hot, add the onions, celery, carrots, and garlic cloves, and cook, stirring until the onion is translucent and everything is fragrant.
Meanwhile soak the dried mushrooms in just enough hot water to cover plus some. Once re-hydrated remove and chop. I reserve the juice for adding to the sauce.
Lay the rabbit down on top of the vegetables, and pour the first two cups of Marsala wine over everything. Then add enough water to just barely cover the rabbit. Add the re-hydrated mushrooms, bay leaf, the first measure of thyme, the teaspoon of salt and the freshly ground pepper. Bring to a nice slow simmer, slow braising it the key. Do not allow to boil (most important to cooking rabbit). Turn the heat down and allow to cook uncovered for 1 1/2 hours at the same slow simmer (I cooked for 2-3 hours depending). Test the rabbit meat–if it is properly fork tender (pulls away from the bone easily but not falling off the bone), remove it from the pot, drizzling a bit of the cooking liquid over it to keep it moist as it cools.
Turn the heat up on the liquid in the pot and bring to a boil. Cook the stock down until it is reduced by half.
While the stock is reducing, melt the 1 tablespoon of the first measure of butter in a saute pan over medium high heat and allow to become foamy. Then, add 1/4 of the fresh mushrooms, and cook, stirring until they are lightly browned and tender and very fragrant and delicious. Set aside in a bowl. Repeat for the remaining mushrooms, using one tablespoon of butter and 1/4 of the mushrooms for each pan.
Take the second measure of butter and melt it in the same pan you cooked the mushrooms in. Add the onions, salt lightly and cook until they are a deep golden color. Add the garlic and keep cooking and stirring until the onions are a medium brown color and the garlic is golden and fragrant. Deglaze the pan with 1/2 cup of the second measure of Marsala wine. Add the onions and garlic to the mushrooms which are set aside.
The remaining 1 1/2 cups of Marsala wine goes into a small saucepan. Over medium heat, simmer until it reduces by half. Turn off heat and set aside.
When the stock has reduced by half, set a colander over a large bowl, and scoop all of the vegetables out of the stock. Squeeze out the dried mushrooms into the bowl, and then squish the cooked vegetables in the colander so that all of their juices run into the bowl. Discard the dried mushrooms and vegetables, rinse out the colander and line it with cheesecloth. (NOTE: I actually kept the cooked vegetables and mushrooms and put them on top of polenta and then served the rabbit and sauce over it). Pour the remaining stock into the bowl, straining it into the cheesecloth lined colander. Wash out your pot and put it back on low heat. Add the strained stock, the reduced Marsala wine and bring to a boil.
Heat your roux up in a small saute pan until it is bubbling. Scrape the roux into the boiling stock and whisk like mad until it thickens nicely. Whisk in the tomato paste until it is completely combined. Stir in the sauteed mushrooms and caramelized onions. If the sauce is too pale, add a teaspoon or so of thick soy sauce.
Remove the rabbit meat from the bones and add to the sauce, making certain to not accidentally slip any bones into the pot.
Stir the thyme and rosemary into the sauced rabbit, and season to taste with salt and pepper.
Serve over garlic mashed potatoes or polenta.
This should feed up to six or eight hungry adults.
Modified from a recipe off http://www.tigersandstrawberries.com