Sunday, April 5, 2009

Braised rabbit legs with chickpeas and swiss chard

Our fridge had been near empty for quite some time now, so yesterday we went to Market Basket for a long overdue restocking. I had some nice chard that I wanted to make with chickpeas, and I just needed one last piece to go with it. While I've had rabbit a few times in restaurants, I've never actually prepared it myself, so when I saw rabbit legs at Savenor's, I figured that would be the perfect piece to finish off the dish. Here's the recipe.

INGREDIENTS (for two):
  • 2 rabbit legs
  • flour
  • salt, pepper
  • 1/2 small to medium onion, diced
  • 1 carrot, chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, peeled and smashed
  • 2 sprigs thyme
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 T black peppercorns
  • chicken stock
  • 1/2 C red wine
  • 2 T vinegar (I used orange-champagne vinegar, you can use red wine or cider vinegars)
(Chickpeas and Chard - double the portions if you are serving this as a main course for a vegetarian meal)
  • 1 bunch of Swiss chard
  • 1 12 oz. can of chickpeas, drained
  • 2 shallots, minced
  • 8 cloves garlic
  • 1 bay leaves
  • chicken stock
  • lemon zest
  • olive oil

Season the rabbit with salt and pepper, dredge in flour, and brown in a heavy pot with olive oil over medium high heat, large enough to hold the rabbit in a single layer. Cook for about 2 minutes on each side, adjusting the heat so the flour does not burn. Set the rabbit aside and cook the carrots, onions, and garlic until soft (about 10 minutes over medium heat). Add about 1/2 cup red wine and let reduce. Add the bay leaf, thyme, and peppercorns. Place the rabbit legs on top of the vegetables, flesh side down and add enough chicken stock just to cover. Cover the pot and braise for 45 minutes at 300F. After 45 minutes, add the vinegar, turn the rabbit legs, and braise for another 45 minutes to an hour.

When the rabbit is done, set the rabbit aside on a plate and strain the braising liquid into a sauce pan. Here, you can take a number of options. You can add a spoon full of mustard, chopped up herbs (tarragon would be great), or spices (a dash of curry powder might work). Reduce over high heat until the sauce starts to thicken (if you are using delicate herbs, add these right before serving), then adjust the seasoning with salt, pepper, and more vinegar if necessary.

For the chard and chickpeas, start by rinsing the chickpeas and in a baking dish, combine the chickpeas with 1 minced shallot, bay leaves, and 5 of the garlic cloves. Season with salt and pepper and drizzle with a generous portion of olive oil. Mix everything together, cover with foil, and bake on the top rack of the oven for 20 minutes. After 20 minutes, remove the foil and bake for another 30 minutes. Meanwhile, cut the thick stalks out of the chard and rinse thoroughly. Rip or slice the leaves into smaller pieces and let dry. Thinly slice the remaining 3 cloves of garlic and cook in a large saute pan over medium high heat with the shallots and 1 T olive oil. When the shallots and garlic begin to brown, begin adding the chard. Once all of the chard is cooked down, add 1/2 cup chicken or veggie broth and let simmer for 10 to 15 minutes over medium to low heat. Add the roasted chickpeas to the saute pan and cook together for another 10 minutes.

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