During my first visit to Alsace many years ago, I had many delicious flammekueche, served with excellent local Pino Gris, but the dish I specifically remember is a rabbit stew that I had on the last day of this short trip in the tiny and picturesque village of Eguisheim. It was a rainy day and we retreated to a tiny traditional restaurant where the manifest smell of muenster cheese hung heavily in the air. The small menu included traditional local fare and I was glad to find a rabbit stew on it, not only because I really enjoy a good rabbit stew but also because I thought that the odor of muenster cheese lent it enough presence for me not to require it to appear in my meal… 😉
It took rather a long time for the dish to appear on our table, but the wait was absolutely worth it. The rabbit was just delicious and so soft that you could cut with a spoon. I have since then often tried to cook rabbit myself, and while my first attempts were not really worth mentioning, I managed to cook a few decent rabbit stews over the past years. I posted some on this blog but when I now found a whole rabbit in my next door supermarket (markets are unfortunately still a bit taboo right now), I thought I should go back to the roots and give it an Alsatian twist.
So for this recipe, the rabbit is cooked in beer and served with oyster mushrooms and dried apricots that have been soaked in Marc de Gewürztraminer. The beer gives the rabbit a rich, deep flavor which is wonderfully counter-balanced by the sweet apricots and the earthy mushrooms. Served with spaetzle or a crisp salad, I think it is just as good as a rabbit stew can get. 😀
- 200 grams of dried apricots
- 50 ml of Marc de Gewürztraminer
- 200 ml of water
- 8 small shallots, quartered
- 4 carrots, cut into large chunks
- 3 medium to large potatoes, peeled and quartered
- 2-3 tablespoons of concentrated butter
- 2-3 tablespoons of vegetable oil
- 1 whole rabbit, cut into 8 pieces
- freshly ground pepper, salt
- 2 heaped tablespoons of flour
- 0.5 l of amber beer
- 400 ml of game or chicken stock
- 400 ml of water
- 3 sprigs of rosemary
- 6 sprigs of thyme
- 2 bay leaves
- 5 juniper berries, lightly crushed
- 400 grams of oyster mushrooms
- 2 tablespoons of butter
- 1/2 bunch of flat-leaf parsley, chopped
- Soak the apricot at least for 2 hours or best overnight in the Marc de Gewürztraminer and water.
- In a large roaster, melt 1-2 tablespoons of the concentrated butter together with 1-2 tablespoons of the oil over medium heat. Add the shallot and fry until soft, then remove from the roaster and set aside.
- Add the carrots and potatoes and also fry for a few minutes, then remove and set aside.
- Increase the heat to medium to hot and sear the pieces of rabbit from all sides until golden brown.
- Season with freshly ground pepper and salt, then dust with 1 tablespoon of flour and fry for another minute.
- Deglaze with the beer. Let the beer reduce to around half, then add the stock and the water. Add the shallots, the carrots and potatoes, the herbs and the juniper berries, cover and let simmer over low heat for around 1 to 1.5 hours until the rabbit has turned very soft.
- In the meantime, clean the mushrooms, cut into slices and sauté for 3 minutes in the remaining butter and oil.
- At the end of the cooking time, remove the meat from the roaster, set aside and pass the cooking liquid through a strainer.
- In a saucepan, melt the butter and whisk in the remaining flour. Add some of the cooking liquid and whisk until smooth, then gradually add more liquid to the sauce until you obtain a good, not too thick consistency.
- When the sauce has thickened, put the rabbit back into the sauce together with the mushrooms and the apricots and simmer for a few more minutes until properly warmed through.
- Season to taste with more pepper and salt and sprinkle with parsley before serving.