The muscle formation in the legs of most animals makes for tough, stringy meat. Confit involves cooking slowly, which allows these formations to break down and yield a luscious result. The added dimension of grilling or searing it in a skillet provides a brilliant smoky char that takes this dish to new levels.–Michael Psilakis
LC Options Galore Note
The talented, gracious, and pragmatic author of this recipe, Michael Psilakis, was generous enough to share a few more ways to experience rabbit confit…
- Lightly cure the meat before making it into a confit: mix 3 tablespoons kosher salt with 1 tablespoon sugar. Rub the mixture all over the pieces and place on a rack in your refrigerator overnight, uncovered. Rinse well and pat dry thoroughly with paper towels before you begin the confit.
- Leftover rabbit confit makes the very best deep-fried rabbit you’ll ever have: Just smear the pieces with Dijon mustard and then bread them as you would for deep-frying, using milk, flour, beaten egg, bread crumbs or panko. Fry until golden brown.
- You may strain the rabbit-infused confit cooking oil and use it to make a quick vinaigrette or to roast some mushrooms to serve alongside. The oil will add another dimension of flavor.
Rabbit Confit Recipe
Hands-On Time: 30 minutes | Total Time: 3 hours, 30 minutes | Serves 4 to 6
- 1 whole rabbit, skinned and cut into 8 pieces
- 1 shallot, peeled
- 10 cloves garlic, peeled
- 3 fresh bay leaves or 6 dried
- 8 cloves
- 15 to 20 whole black peppercorns
- 8 star anise pods
- 6 cardamom pods
- 10 sprigs fresh thyme
- 4 sprigs fresh rosemary
- 1 teaspoon mustard seeds (yellow or brown)
- Kosher salt and cracked black pepper
- About 3 to 6 cups or so oil (I usually use a blend of 90 percent canola and 10 percent extra-virgin olive, although you can change that to 50 percent canola and 50 percent olive oil.)
- Lemon wedges, for squeezing
- 1. Preheat the oven to 300°F (148° C). Rinse the rabbit under cold running water and pat dry with paper towels.
- 2. In a heavy lidded 4-quart or larger pot or a large Dutch oven, combine the rabbit with the shallot, garlic cloves, bay leaves, cloves, peppercorns, star anise pods, juniper berries, cardamom pods, thyme, rosemary, mustard seeds, and 1 tablespoon of kosher salt. Add enough oil to cover the meat by about half an inch. Place a piece of parchment paper cut to fit your pot on the surface of the oil. Cover the pot with its lid and transfer to the oven. Check the contents of the pot occasionally—the oil should never come to a full simmer. You may need to reduce the heat. Cook until the meat is tender but not falling apart, about 3 hours. Remove the pot from the oven. (To make the confit in advance, you can cool the rabbit to room temperature and refrigerate overnight or up to 3 days. You must slowly heat the pieces in confit oil in a warm oven before grilling or searing, otherwise the center will be cold.)
- 3. Preheat a charcoal or gas grill or ridged cast-iron grill pan until hot but not smoking. Lift the pieces out of the confit oil and season with pepper. Reserve the oil until serving time. Lightly sear the meat just long enough to warm it and imbue it with a smoky char flavor (remember, the rabbit is already cooked, you just want to warm it through).
- 4. Drizzle the meat with a little of the confit oil and squeeze a wedge of lemon over it.
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Rabbit Confit Recipe © 2009 Michael Psilakis. Photo © 2009 Christopher Hirsheimer. All rights reserved.