Tourin à l’ail (French Egg Drop Garlic Soup)

Tourin à l’ail

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The Dordogne is a department located in South-west France and is named after the river Dordogne that runs through it. This land that encompassed the Dordogne is the exact same land that was once known as the county of Périgord and is synonymous of course with France’s most luxurious ingredients, from the very highest quality goose foie gras to the elusive black truffle. Périgord is also famous for its duck products, from duck foie gras to confit de canard. The region is divided into four areas each named after a specific colour- Périgord Noir (Black), Périgord Blanc (White), Périgord Vert (Green) and Périgord Pourpre (Purple).

It is here in the Dordogne that the dish Tourin à l’ail (French Egg Drop Garlic Soup) was invented, and rose to fame due to the use of duck fat in the dish. Every February, there is a competition in Villeréal, south-east of Bergerac (the wine-producing region of Dordogne), to see who can produce the best tasting Tourin à l’ail. This soup is traditional made from a flour roux containing garlic and onions fried in duck fat. Chicken stock is then mixed in with the roux and the soup is then thickened with a mixture of egg yolks and vinegar. The final step of to complete the dish is to slowly drizzle in egg whites while whisking extremely rapidly to produce long strands of cooked egg whites suspended in the soup, similar to Chinese egg drop soup.

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Chateau Lafite, Pauillac, Bordeaux

 

The traditional story surrounding Tourin à l’ail is that the soup has the ability to cure hangovers and provide energy. Thus this soup is traditional served to newlyweds the night of their wedding as well as to vineyard pickers during grape harvest season. The soup is also eaten the day after parties and banquets with heavy drinking as a hangover cure.

An ancient tradition in South-west France surrounding drinking soups including Tourin à l’ail is faire chabrot or faire chabròl (to drink like a goat), which is the practice of adding a bit of red wine to your soup towards the end of the bowl of soup, before drinking the soup straight from the bowl. In the Périgord region, this practice is known as fà chabroù, while it is known as cabroù in Provence. Today this traditional is obsolete and is considered an old and rural gesture only performed by the older generation in France. Today however, chabrot is sometimes still performed in the spirit of connivance and friendliness.

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Tourin à l’ail

  • 20ml duck/goose fat (can be replaced with olive/vegetable oil)
  • 25 cloves of garlic + 5 cloves for garnish
  • 1 large onion
  • 30g flour
  • 3 duck eggs
  • 1500ml chicken stock/vegetable stock
  • 10ml of white vinegar (or vinegar of choice such as sherry or red wine vinegar)
  • Fresh thyme sprigs
  • Salt and Pepper
  • Butter and sliced baguette
  1. Dice the onions and slice the garlic cloves. In a stock pot, melt the duck fat over medium heat and sweat the onions and garlic cloves. Do not brown them.
  2. Add in the flour to the pot and stir well so that the flour and fat combine to make a roux. (Stir for a minute without browning the roux)
  3. Add in the stock and a few springs of thyme. Simmer for 30 minutes.
  4. Remove the thyme before pureeing the soup with a hand blender.
  5. Separate the eggs and mix and egg yolks with the vinegar.
  6. Slowly add the egg yolk mixture to the soup while stirring the soup constantly to mix well.
  7. Bring the soup up to a boil, switch off the heat and slowly drizzle in the egg whites  into the soup while stirring gently to cause thin strands of cooked egg whites to be suspended in the soup.
  8. Fry the remaining garlic in butter a frying pan. Remove the garlic from the pan and toast the baguette slices in the frying pan with the remaining butter. Top the baguette slices with the garlic and remaining thyme leaves and serve with the soup.
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Freshly laid duck eggs

Notes:

  • Duck fat gives the soup its unique and traditional flavour but can always be replaced with any frying oil
  • Remember the cook the flour so that it is able to absorb more stock.
  • A roux is usually butter and flour whisked together to form a paste that serves as a base for many sauces such as béchamel sauce.
  • If you don’t remove the thyme stems before blending the soup, the soup will have bits of hard to bite thyme stems mixed into it which are rough on the tongue.
  • When adding the egg yolks to the soup, make sure the soup is not boiling if not you risk curdling the egg yolks.
  • The egg yolks and vinegar mixture are used to thicken the soup.

Wine Pairing:

The classic wine pairing advice that food and wine that originate from the same place go well together hold true here. A fine example of a true Périgourdine wines include white wine would be wines from Bergerac. The Bergerac wines represent 13 Appellation d’Origine Controlée (AOC) recorded in 1936, with only 2 of the AOCs producing white wines, namely Bergerac White and Montravel. Bergerac White is produced from the blend of Sémillon, Sauvignon, Muscadelle, Ondec and Chenin Blanc, while Montravel is produced from Sémillon, Muscadelle and Sauvignon. This combination of grape varieties is similar to Bordeaux whites (with the exception of Chenin Blanc) and the wines have high acidity, with aromas of white flowers and occasionally, have a herbaceous note to them. They are light bodied with moderate alcohol. This high acidity and fresh style of wine goes well with Tourin à l’ail as the high acidity pairs with the fat from the duck fat and egg yolks, while the herbaceous notes pair with the thyme and garlic. Alternative wine pairings include Sauvignon Blanc from the Loire Valley, France, or New Zealand.

Le Chat Noir
Le Chat Noir, Montmartre, Paris

With Éric Alfred Leslie Satie’s Gymnopédie No.1 gently playing in the background whilst I write this post, I realise how this song pairs well the characteristics of this dish. The song’s enchanting slow-paced tune has the ability to bring you back to the the melancholic and romantic Paris of the early 1900s, interpreted through a impressionistic style of music. Satie moved from his father’s residence to lodgings in Montmartre in 1887, and was soon to start rubbing shoulders with the artistic clientele of the Le Chat Noir cabaret, which included the then not yet famous Claude Debussy. The Le Chat Noir was thought to be the first modern cabaret and was founded by Rodolphe Salis. A cabaret at that time was a somewhat precursor to the modern restaurant, where wine was only sold and served with a meal on a tablecloth. At Le Chat Noir, entertainment was also provided in the form of music and political satire, and it was here that Éric Satie composed his most famous pieces, his Gymnopédies.

Paris-Brest

Paris-Brest (Almond Choux Pastry with Crème Mousseline)

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The Paris-Brest-Paris was a long-distance cycling event (1200km) that was first organised in 1891 by a French Journalist by the name of Pierre Giffard in Saint-Quentin-en-Yvelines, as a circulation aid for parisian newspapers. It was Pierre Giffard, who requested that Louis Durand, the pâtissier of Maisons-Laffitte in Yvelines, create a pastry to commemorate the start of the Paris-Brest-Paris race. This pastry was soon to become known as the Paris-Brest, and consisted of a circular choux pastry ring with an almond cream filling, topping with toasted almonds, which represented the wheel of a bicycle. The pastry gained popularity among cyclist very quickly due to its high calorific value and is now available all across France.

Paris-brest is made from Choux pastry (pâte à choux), which is a dough made with butter, water, flour and eggs. This is unusual compared to most french pastry dough as it does not contain sugar or any rising agents. Instead, it uses the high amount of moisture in the dough from water and eggs to cause to pastry to rise. During baking, the steam released from the dough is trapped inside the dough and causes the pastry to puff up, similar to yorkshire puddings. Choux pastry is the same pastry dough used to make profiteroles, croquembouches, éclairs.

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View of Paris from the Sacré-Cœur, Paris

The main filling traditionally used in Paris-brest is crème mousseline, which is a derivative of pastry cream (crème pâtissière) made by the addition of butter and praline paste. Crème pâtissière is prepared by whisking hot milk with a mixture of egg yolks, sugar, flour and cornstarch, before cooking it on the stove top. The milk used in crème pâtissière is usually flavoured with cointreau or vanilla and can be flavoured to your personal taste (some people even add coffee). To make crème mousseline, butter and praline paste is then whisked hard into crème pâtissière until a fluffy smooth consistency is achieved. The crème mousseline is then chilled until it is ready to be piped.

Modern interpretations of Paris-brest include much smaller versions of it that no longer include the famous hole in the middle that symbolises a bicycle wheel. Furthermore, a version of Paris-brest made using hazelnut paste and topped with toasted hazelnuts have become increasingly popular (instead of the traditional almonds). All in all, the main appeal of the Paris brest has been the crunchy outer texture from the choux pastry and toasted nuts, paired with the rich nutty and creamy filling on the inside.

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Paris-Brest

Choux Pastry:

  • 150g flour
  • 140ml water
  • 90ml milk
  • 90g butter
  • 4g salt
  • 4-5 eggs
  • sliced almonds/nibbed hazelnuts (for topping)
  • Icing sugar (for dusting)
  1. Preheat the oven to 200°C (400°F)
  2. Add the butter, water and salt into a pan and melt together on high heat.
  3. Once completely mixed together, add in all the flour in one go and stir vigorously with a wooden spoon to form a thick paste (panada).
  4. Cook the panada on low heat for 2-3 minutes, constantly stirring.
  5. Take the panada off the heat and add a single whole egg to it. Mix very vigorously with the wooden spoon until the dough becomes smooth.
  6. Continue adding eggs and mixing one at time until the pastry is slightly glossy and hangs down like a v-shape from the wooden spoon. The amount of eggs required is not fixed and serves more as a guide.
  7. Fill a piping bag equipped with a round nozzle with the choux pastry
  8. Draw a 20 cm circle on parchment paper on top of a baking trap and pipe the choux pastry following the 20cm ring.
  9. Pipe another ring inside the first ring, with both rings sticking to each other.
  10. Pipe a final ring resting on top and in between the bottom two rings.
  11. Brush the choux pastry with egg wash and sprinkle on the almonds/hazelnuts.
  12. Bake for 28-30 minutes (the pastry should be firm and golden).
  13. Immediately after baking, slice the ring horizontally into two layers before allowing it to cool.
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Louvre Museum, Paris

Pastry Cream (crème pâtissière):

  • 70g sugar
  • 5 egg yolks
  • 25g flour
  • 25g cornstarch/cornflour (or replace with more flour)
  • 450ml milk
  • 1 vanilla bean/1 teaspoon of vanilla essence.
  1. Pour milk into a pan and add in the vanilla seeds from the vanilla pod by scraping out the seeds using a pairing knife. Bring the milk to boil.
  2. Beat the egg yolks and sugar mixture until the egg yolks are pale, light and fluffy.
  3. Whisk in the flour and cornstarch into the egg mixture.
  4. While constantly whisking the egg mixture, pour in half the hot milk in, all the while mixing well.
  5. Pour the egg mixture back into the pot with the remaining milk (all the whole mixing continuously).
  6. Turn on the heat and continue whisking the mixture until it starts to thicken to your desired consistency. At this point, the pastry cream is done and should be refrigerated until cool enough to use.

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Mousseline Cream (crème mousseline):

  • Pastry Cream
  • 250g unsalted butter
  • 150g praline paste
  1. If the butter comes straight from the fridge, cut the butter into small cubes and place into a pan.
  2. On medium heat, gently heat the butter until just under a quarter of the butter is melted.
  3. Immediately take off the heat and whisk the butter heavily so that the melted butter combines with the remaining unmelted butter to give you soft butter.
  4. Alternatively, use room temperature butter.
  5. Whisk the butter vigorously into the pastry cream, before adding the praline paste into the mixture and continue whisking.
  6. Once whisked until soft and fluffy, the mousseline cream is ready to be used and can be filled into a pastry bag equipped with a star-tipped nozzle.
  7. To assemble to Paris-Brest, pipe some mousseline cream into the bottom layer of the choux pastry before piping the cream in a uniform pattern all around the bottom layer of the choux pastry.
  8. Gently place the top layer of the choux pastry on top of the mousseline cream and dust the Paris-Brest with icing sugar. Chill before serving.

 

 

Notes:

  • Remember to mix the flour/cornstarch into the pastry cream and choux pastry well and vigorously to prevent lumps from forming.
  • Similarly, whisk the choux pastry well when cooking it on the stove top to prevent the bottom from burning. Boiling the milk for pastry cream also runs to risk of the bottom of the pot scorching so remember to mix well.
  • Pastry cream can be flavoured with chocolate or coffee if you don’t like the taste of praline.
  • If you’re mousseline cream is lumpy after the addition of the butter, it means that the butter was too cold when you added it in. You can fix this by letting the mixture warm up a bit, or even slightly heating it up over a bain-marie.
  • A wooden spoon for mixing the choux pastry is better than using a whisk as the mixture is extremely sticky.
  • The panada for the choux pastry is cooked in order to allow it to better absorb the eggs.
  • A lot of mixing is required to incorporate the eggs into the panada so don’t give up if the dough looks split.
  • Adding eggs one at a time allows you to control the final texture of the choux pastry, remember- the pastry should be glossy and hang down like a v-shape from the wooden spoon.
  • The choux pastry ring should be cut immediately after baking as it is the easiest to cut whist it is still hot. Cutting it immediately also releases steam and allows it to cool down faster.
  • After adding the vanilla seeds to the milk, don’t throw away the pod! You can boil the pod with the milk or add the pod to you sugar jar to make vanilla sugar.
  • The pastry cream recipe can be used already after chilled if you do not intend to make mousseline cream.
  • You can gentle soften the butter for mousseline cream in a microwave as well.
  • The mousseline cream can also be chilled in the fridge before use but should be clingfilmed to prevent a skin from forming on it.
  • Remember to whisk the mousseline cream again before use if making the day before.

Langoustine and Lobster Oil Risotto

Risotto à l’huile de homard et au langoustine

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This dish consists of a langoustine stock based risotto, seasoned with langoustine oil, tomato puree and parsley, before being finished with lobster oil and thickened with Parmesan cheese. It is accompanied by an assortment of seafood, with garlic fried langoustines and white wine steamed clams.

Langoustines (Nephrops norvegicus), also known as Norway lobsters or Dublin Bay prawns, are one of those ingredients with humble beginnings, but then rose to fame and now can be found on the menu’s of the world’s most luxurious restaurants. Langoustines can be described as a crustacean that sits somewhere between a prawn and a lobster. It’s meat is more tender and sweeter than a lobster, while being more refined and cleaner in taste than a prawn’s, thus giving you the best of both worlds. In my opinion however, a langoustine’s, major downside is that it had a rather low meat to shell ratio compared to prawns and lobsters, with the meat considerably harder to remove. Because of this, whilst I do not like to eat langoustines outright, I like to use their high meat to shell ratio to my advantage, making a langoustine stock that is not unlike prawn stock, but is sweeter and does not have the musky flavour of prawn stocks. The heads of langoustines are also particularly important, as they contain the hepatopancreas, which is the delicious yellow gooey stuff that is rich and full of umami and taste like runny egg yolks. The hepatopancreas in langoustines serves as the both the liver and pancreas, and is the equivalent of tomalley in crabs. I find that adding langoustine heads to a stock releases the hepatopancreas into the stock, thus making it cloudy. To prevent this, I separate the heads from the rest of the shells and fry them up in oil before crushing them to produce langoustine oil.

In my opinion, the core of a good risotto is the stock that you use to make it. The stock you use in a risotto serves as a canvas that you as the chef layer flavours unto. Because of this, it is important that you use a well-flavoured and refined stock, that has no bitterness or impurities in it. This being said, like a piece of canvas, the whole point of it is to turn it into a work of art, and therefore, the stock you use for a risotto shouldn’t be too forward in strong flavours, but be light and fresh while still capturing the essence of the ingredient you use as the base of the stock. As an analogy, imagine trying to paint a picture on a black piece of canvas. No matter what you paint on it, nothing is able to show though the black colour. The same applies for the stock you use in a risotto. If for example you use a brown stock for risotto (one which the bones and vegetables used to make it is first caramelised), any further subtle flavours you add to your risotto later on will be overpowered, while the taste of the brown stock will just concentrate as it evaporates and gets absorbed by the risotto rice.

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When choosing fresh langoustines, looks for langoustines that are firm when squeezed, without damaged legs, claws or antennae. Furthermore, they should smell fresh, like the sea, while also having bright shiny black eyes. The rice I use in this risotto recipe is Carnaroli rice, the most traditionally used risotto which comes from the village of Carnaroli in the Po Valley, Italy. This rice has a high starch content that is released when stirred, giving a creamy character to the risotto. If a high enough quality Carnaroli rice is used, it is possible to add in all the stock for the risotto at one, while bringing the pot up to a boil, as the agitating from the boiling water is enough to cause the rice to release its starches.

For this recipe, I use a special pot for cooking a the risotto- an extra thick copper Windsor Pot from E Dehillerin in Paris.  E Dehillerin is a cookware shop in Paris and is somewhat of a pilgrimage site for chefs all around the world. They stock their own line of copperware, both lined with stainless steel or tin, in varying copper thicknesses, all made specially for them by Mauviel in the Villedieu-les-Poêles Village in Normandy, France. The prices they sell their copper pots for are the cheapest and highest quality you can find, even cheaper than what you can find on the internet. A Windsor Pot, also known as an “splayed sauteuse evasee”, is a pot with a unique shape, whereby its base is of a smaller circumference than the top of the pot. Because of this difference in surface area, the heat applied to the pot is concentrated at the bottom of the pot, while the large surface area at the top encourages evaporation. This then makes this pot ideal for evaporating sauces, and in this case, evaporating the stock used to make the risotto. Of course this is not necessary to make this recipe and in all honestly, while copper cookware does have its advantages, they never have been, or will be a necessity in cooking and should be viewed as a luxury.

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While living in Paris, I visited E Dehillerin so often that the owner of the shop (the man in the picture), asked if I wanted to work there.

Langoustine and Lobster Oil Risotto

  • Seafood
    • Whole Langoustines
    • Clams
    • White Wine
  • Stock
    • Langoustine Shells
    • Fumet (fish stock)
      • Fish Bones (Cleaned)
      • Bay leaves
      • Fennels
      • White Wine
      • Black Peppercorns
      • Carrots
      • Onions
      • Lemon
    • Salt
  • Lobster Oil
  • Shallots
  • Langoustine Oil
    • Parsley
    • Garlic
    • Langoustine Heads
    • Any neutral cooking oil (not olive oil)
  • Parmesan Cheese
  • Parsley
  • White Wine
  • Tomato Puree
  1. To start of, begin by making the fumet (fish stock) for this recipe. Begin by cleaning the fish bones by either soaked them in cold water for a few hours or quickly blanching them in water.
  2. After that, finely chop the fennel, carrots and onions into small cubes (mirepoix), before adding them to a clean pot with the fish bones, herbs and lemon juice. Add in a dash of white wine before covering with cold water.
  3. Bring to a simmer from cold water before simmering for 20 minutes at the maximum. The stock should smell fresh of the sea and not have any bitter aftertaste.
  4. Once the fish stock has been made, pass it though a chinois strainer lined with cheesecloth to remove the bones, vegetables and any impurities. Next, to make the langoustine stock, add in the langoustine shells into the fish stock and simmer for another 30 minutes, never bringing the pot up to a boil. Add salt to season the stock to taste. Remember that the stock will reduce down in the risotto and the salt will concentrate.20792143554_c585b33cac_o
  5. To prepare the langoustine oil, fry the langoustine heads in any neutral cooking oil with some garlic and parsley, squeezing the heads to extract the flavour.
  6. Once done, strain the oil to remove the heads before returning the oil to the windsor pot.
  7. Add in finely minced shallots to the windsor pot to sweat before adding in the risotto rice and fry the risotto rice until fragrant of langoustines. Be careful not to brown the shallots.
  8. After that, add in a dash of white wine to deglaze the pan before adding in the langoustine stock ladle by ladle, stirring constantly as the stock is absorbed by the rice and flavours concentrate as the stock evaporates.
  9. In the meantime, prepare the seafood by discard any clams that are damaged or already open before adding white wine into a saucepan along with the clams and langoustines and steam until the clams open and the langoustines change to a bright orange and pinkish colour.
  10. The second the clams open is the moment when the clams are done just right. Any longer and the clams take on a chewy texture. Discard any clams that did not open.
  11. When the risotto is almost cooked, add in the parmesan cheese in three separate stages, stirring it in carefully to make sure the parmesan cheese melts into the risotto.
  12. Stir in a small amount of tomato puree to add some umami before finishing the risotto with fresh chopped parsley and lobster oil.
  13. Once done, stir in the langoustines and clams from before. The wine left over from steaming the langoustines and clams can be either added to the stock or discarded. If the clams were not clean to begin with, I would recommend discarding the wine.
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Lobster Oil, Huile de Homard

The point of not bringing the stock at any point above a simmer is to prevent vigorous agitation of the stock which causes bitter flavours in be released and the stock to become cloudy. In this recipe I make a fish stock and then only a langoustine stock because boiling the fish stock longer than 20 minutes would cause the fish stock to develop off flavours while losing its freshness. The point of finely dicing the vegetables before adding to the stock is to increase the surface area of the vegetables, allowing them to contribute their aromas to the stock, thus the vegetables and herbs being called aromatics. Again in this recipe, I do not call for salt except when making the stock as the saltiness of the dish will come from both the seafood as well as the parmesan cheese. A non aromatic oil is used to fry the langoustine heads as the sweetness of langoustine heads is easily overpowered by the taste of an aromatic oil such as olive oil. When preparing the shallots, the finer the shallots are chopped the better, with the best risotto having shallots so fine that they technically almost melt into the risotto. The white wine is added to the risotto before the stock to allow the wine to evaporate, adding acidity to the dish, which balances the sweetness of the seafood.

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Final dish paired with Sauterne

I personally would pair this dish with a sweet wine such as a Sauterne or Barsac from Bordeaux or a sweet wine from the Loire Valley such as a Coteaux de Layon. I would not pair this dish with a red wine. Alternatively, a Chenin Blanc from South Africa would also pair well, along with most high acidity white wines such as a Riesling. I feel that the high acidity in a white wine would be able to cut though the richness of the risotto. The pairing of this risotto with a sweet wine might seem somewhat unconventional, but I personally enjoy the taste of fresh seafood, particularly that of the langoustines, which have an underlying sweet complex flavour, with the rich honey and velvety taste of a sweet semillon with underlying notes of peaches and pears. If one does not like sweet wines or aromatic whites, I would then recommend a Melon de Bourgogne from Muscadet which has a vague savouriness that is reminiscent of oysters that pairs well with dish. Alternatively, if one if willing to splurge, a good Chablis would of course go well with this dish, as it is a classical pairing.

Lapin à la Moutarde

Rabbit with a Mustard Cream Sauce

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This dish is a classic provincial French dish that consists of a rabbit leg and loin served with a vibrant mustard cream sauce. The rabbit can be done two ways, the first using a sous vide machine and the second by simply pan frying it and finishing it in an oven. As the main component of the dish is the delicate taste of rabbit combined with a fresh mustard sauce, it is important to use an excellent mustard when making the sauce, preferably one from Dijon. Furthermore, the mustard should be added to the cream base just before serving as to preserve the volatile compounds in mustard that gives it its classic spicy bite. A fine balance needs to be achieved between the amount of mustard in the sauce and the creaminess of the sauce to ensure the acidity and spiciness of the mustard is able to cut through the cream without being overpowering.

In terms of choosing a rabbit, a trade-off needs to be made between using wild rabbit or farmed rabbit for this dish. Farmed rabbit is easier to obtain and larger in size, but it is considerably less complex in flavour and can sometimes be so lacking in flavour that it can “taste like chicken”. On the upside, farmed rabbit is more tender and is available all year round. Conversely, wild rabbit, also known as lapin de garenne, has very low natural fats and can tend to be on the tough and chewy side if not cooked properly. The flavour of wild rabbit is more gamey but is still light enough to be considered a white meat. Because of this, I prefer to sous vide wild rabbit for long periods of time, which not only preserves the tenderness of the meat by trapping moisture inside it, but also slowly breaks down the meat proteins.

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Rabbit stock in the making

Rabbit with a Mustard Cream Sauce:

  • 1 Whole Rabbit which will yield 4 Legs, Loin, Innards and Bones
  • Rabbit Stock:
    • Dried Bay Leaves
    • Fresh Thyme
    • Salt
    • Whole black and red peppercorns
    • Rabbit Bones
  • Sauce:
    • Cream
    • A small amount of Dijon mustard
    • White Wine
    • Garlic
    • Butter
    • Shallots
    • Rabbit Stock
  • Oil
  • Salt and Pepper
  1. To start off, we need to breakdown the rabbit into its individual components. Reach into the cavity of the rabbit and pull out the liver and 2 kidneys which are usually left behind by the butcher when you buy rabbit. Reserve on one side.
  2. Remove the hind legs and front arms of the rabbit by first cutting around the base of the joints connecting the legs and arms to the body, following the muscle all the way round. Use one hand to hold the body and another to hold the arm/leg.
  3. Bend the joint against its natural movement direction to break the joint, allowing a clean removal.
  4. Once complete, cut through the meat between the second and third rib of the rabbit on both sides before snapping the backbone in half to break the body in two. Reserve the ribcage for the rabbit stock.
  5. The remaining half of the rabbit is called the saddle, and it includes the rabbit loin, which can be removed from the bone by gently running a knife along one side of the backbone against the meat, and working downwards in long continuous slices, allowing the bones to guide you as you separate the meat from the bone.
  6. Repeat with the other side of the backbone.
  7. After removing the loins, reserve the bones for stock. Roll the loin up lengthwise before clingwrapping and refrigerating.

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    Autumn in University Parks, Oxford
  8. As the loin is very tender and easy to overcook, sear it on a frying pan for a few minutes before allowing it to rest. It is not necessary to finish it in the oven which would risk overcooking it. If you intend to sous vide the legs, sous vide-ing the loin as well would be a waste of time.
  9. The liver and kidneys can be poached and eaten along with the dish in the cream sauce, or just pan-fried with a little salt and eaten by itself.
  10. To make the stock, start by boiling the rabbit bones for several minutes before pouring out the water and cleaning the bones thoroughly under running water. This helps remove all the blood and dirt from the bones, saving you the trouble from constantly needing to skim the stock.
  11. Return the cleaned bones to the pot, add the fresh thyme and bay leaves to the pot, along with some whole peppercorns, before filling with water until the bones are just covered. Bring the stock up to a gentle simmer and leave for 3 hours, removing any impurities that rise to the surface.
  12. Because we intend to use the stock as a base for the sauce, it is important to keep it as clear as possible. Thus bringing the stock to a boil while the bones are still in the pot will agitate the contents, making the stock cloudy. For the same reason, we use whole peppercorns and entire sprigs of thyme to ensure that when we have finished cooking the stock, we can pass it through a fine mesh strainer to remove all the herbs and bones.
  13. Once we have strained the stock, bring it up to a boil and reduce it down to around a cup of stock.
  14. To make the sauce, start off by melting the butter in a saucepan before sweating the minced shallots and garlic in it. At this point we don’t want to brown the garlic or shallots as we want to preserve the lightness of the sauce as remember, the taste of rabbit meat is light and we want to accentuate that.
  15. Add in a splash of white wine and cook off the alcohol before pouring in the stock. When the stock has reduced to a slightly salty taste, whisk in the cream and set aside.
  16. Do not bring the cream to a boil as there is a chance of the cream curdling and the sauce becoming lumpy. The chances of this happening increases if the cream you are using is below 30% fat, or if the sauce is fairly acidic, which is this case the sauce is slightly acidic due to the addition of wine. Do not add the mustard to the sauce yet.37934954172_381da3dbe3_o
  17. To cook the rabbit loin, remove the rabbit loin from the clingwrap and season well with salt and pepper. Sear briefly all around on a cast iron pan before allowing to rest.
  18. For the rabbit legs, season well with salt and pepper before also searing in a cast iron pan. At this point, a little butter may be added to the pan with the remaining oil before inserting the pan along with the rabbit legs into the oven for around 10 minutes at 180°C.
  19. Once cooked, plate the dish by placing the rabbit loin first, followed by the rabbit leg.
  20. Whisk in the mustard into the warm reheated cream sauce before pouring over the rabbit.

To cook the rabbit leg sous vide, season the rabbit legs with salt and pepper before vacuum packing the legs and sous vide-ing for 12 hours at 75°C. I do not recommend adding oil to the bag as it dilutes the flavour of the rabbit. While seasoning the rabbit before sous vide-ing it does draw out the moisture from the rabbit, 12 hours is long enough for the moisture to be absorbed back in. There is also the option to add herbs to the sous vide bag, but I prefer the taste of the rabbit up front and forward. To finish off the rabbit legs, remove from sous vide back, pat dry with paper towels before searing on a cast iron pan with a knob of butter. Serve the same way as before.

It is understandable that rabbit can be hard to find in many countries, so a viable alternative to rabbit legs is chicken thighs- but of course it won’t taste the same.

In term of wine parings, I feel that rabbit meat is one of these dishes that is delicate enough to go with a white wine. Due to the spiciness of the mustard, along with the fat from the cream, I would recommend a dry to off dry riesling, with its floral notes and crisp acidity to cut the fat. Maybe one from the Mosel in Germany. For red wines, I would recommend a light red with not too much tannins such as Beaujolais Cru or if the you’re up for a splurge, a good red Burgundy. I would recommend against basic Beaujolais as the taste of bubblegum imparted on the wine from carbonic maceration would not match the dish. A light red with low acidity (such as a Southern Rhone Grenache) would also not pair well with the dish as the fatty feeling from the cream sauce would be overwhelming.