A Little Cajun to Celebrate Mardi Gras

March 7, 2011

Smothered Rabbit

Yesterday, I decided we were way overdue for a rabbit dinner. Rabbit is one of my favorite meats, probably because I don’t get it very often. Since we’re coming up on the Mardi Gras grand finale, I decided to pull out a Cajun recipe from Chef Paul Prudhomme’s Louisiana Kitchen, Smothered Rabbit. The recipe was très simple – pan fry the rabbit, make a dark rous with the leftover oil and flour, add a bit of celery and onion, and mix it all into a boiling pot of stock. So off to the store I went to pick up the vegetables, along with a little TurboDog and Dixie beers to round out the perfect Cajun meal.

On the way back from the store, I decided instead of serving this with white rice or mashed potatoes as suggested, I would whip up a bit of dirty rice instead, which was out – of – this – world! I’ll write a separate post on the wonders of the dirty rice later today, in case you want to whip some up to celebrate Fat Tuesday tomorrow. For now, here’s the Smothered Rabbit recipe, which you could also make with chicken (but really, why would you?).

Smothered Rabbit
from Chef Paul Prudhomme’s Louisiana Kitchen

Serves 4

Seasoning Mix:
2 1/4 tsp salt
1 1/2 tsp onion powder
1 1/2 tsp sweet paprika
3/4 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp white pepper
1/4 tsp red pepper (cayenne)
1/4 tsp black pepper
1/4 tsp dried sweet basil leaves
1/4 tsp gumbo filé

1 (2 to 3 pound) rabbit, cut into 8 pieces
1 cup all-purpose flour
Vegetable oil for pan frying
1 cup finely chopped onions
1/2 cup finely chopped celery
6 cups rabbit stock
Rice or mashed potatoes, for serving

In a small bowl thoroughly combine the seasoning mix ingredients. Sprinkle 2 teaspoons of the mix with the flour in a paper or plastic bag.

Heat about 1/4 inch oil in a large heavy skillet to about 350°. Dredge the rabbit pieces in the seasoned flour, shaking off excess (reserve left-over flour). Cook in the hot oil until golden brown, about 2 minutes per side. Do not crowd. (Adjust heat as necessary to maintain oil’s temperature at about 350°; if drippings start to burn, discard the oil and drippings and use fresh oil.) Drain rabbit on paper towels.

Combine the onions and celery in a small bowl and set aside.

Pour off all but 1/2 cup of the hot oil from the skillet, leaving as much sediment in the pan as possible. Return skillet to high heat and let remaining oil heat until it starts to smoke, about 2 minutes, scraping loose any sediment that may be stuck to the pan bottom. With a long-handled metal whisk, gradually whisk in the reserved flour until smooth. Continue cooking, whisking constantly, until the roux turns dark red-brown, about 2 to 3 minutes (be careful not to let it scorch or splash on your skin). Immediately stir in the reserved vegetable mixture and remove from heat. Continue stirring (change to a wooden spoon if necessary) until the roux stops darkening in color, about 3 minutes. Set aside.

In a 5 1/2 quart saucepan or large Dutch oven, bring the stock to a boil. Add the roux to the stock by spoonfuls, whisking until roux disolves between each addition. Stir in the remaining season mix. Add the rabbit to the pot and cook about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Reduce heat to low and continue cooking until rabbit is tender and sauce is reduced to about 4 cups, about 50 to 60 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Serve immediately over rice or with mashed potatoes, allowing 2 pieces of rabbit and a generous portion of sauce for each person.

I generally have my rabbits cut into 6 pieces instead of 8, so this will actually make 6 servings for us. Also, I cannot stress enough to be careful around the hot oil and roux. If the roux gets on you, it will be as bad as sticking your hand into burning oil, because the flour will stick to you. And when oil is at its smoking point, IT IS HOT!! As I can attest, because last night a big pop of oil came flying out of the skillet and directly into my eye. That did not feel good. So be careful!

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5 Responses to “A Little Cajun to Celebrate Mardi Gras”

  1. This looks delicious, but where on earth do you find Rabbit around the Southbay?

  2. I used to get it at Cosentino’s, because they always had it. Before they closed, I bought 3 and put them in the freezer. Dittmer’s in Mountain View also carries it, and today I stumbled upon Race Street Seafood & Poultry’s site, and it looks like they carry it as well.

  3. You cut up the rabbit in 6 pieces,then you say “allowing 2 pieces of rabbit and a generous portion of sauce for each person”Then serves 4.”

  4. Hi L.Dean. In the recipe it states to have the rabbit cut into 8 pieces, serving 2 pieces per person for a total of 4 servings. In my note below the recipe, I state that often I have my rabbit cut into 6 pieces instead of 8, and when I do this, based on my appetite, this is 6 servings (1 piece per person). So it depends on how you cut the rabbit and your appetite.

  5. amazing recipe, all i would add is that i marinated my rabbit for about 24hrs in a basic creole spice rub it added an amazing flavor to the gravy as long as you like a little more heat. i also added a little Ancho Chili Powder instead of the paprika.

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