Tag Archives: pancetta

Rabbit braised in cider

At my local farmers’ market, there’s a vendor that arrives every Saturday with a cooler full of meat from an upstate New York farm, including bison, lamb, elk, and rabbit. I’ve been visiting his stall regularly this fall, and taking advantage of the opportunity to expand our dinner repertoire. On my most recent visit, I scanned the list he had scribbled on his chalkboard and decided on rabbit.  I hadn’t cooked rabbit before, and it’s not something that either my husband or I get to eat very often, so I figured this would definitely qualify as a “new” dish, whatever we decided to do with it.
My first experience with rabbit dates back to my very early years, when my grandmother would serve roasted rabbit for Easter dinner. Needless to say, once my sister and I managed to connect the rabbit on the table with our beloved Easter Bunny, we were no longer willing participants in the holiday meal that lay before us. Eventually, she gave up and revised the Easter menu to include dishes that my sister and I would eat, and I didn’t encounter it again for a long time.
Now that those days are a distant memory, I was curious to give rabbit another try. When I got home from the market, I turned to my copy of The Silver Spoon for some inspiration. It’s my go-to reference whenever I bring home some kind of meat, fish or vegetable that I haven’t cooked before. I browsed through the rabbit recipes and settled on a braise with hard cider, mushrooms, pancetta, and lemon – lots of our favorite things. The result was tender, with a great depth of flavor – not really gamey, but definitely more interesting than your average chicken. We served it with roast potatoes – good for soaking up the braising liquid – and wilted kale – to round out the meal. While it still might not         belong on the Easter menu, we agreed this dish is a keeper for the chilly autumn & winter months.

Keep reading for the recipe…