This roasted rabbit, celery and fried bread salad is a hearty and humble fall appetizer or entree.
In this roasted rabbit, celery and fried bread salad, rabbit is topped with a cool, crunchy celery and bread salad. I love celery, especially the hearts and leaves. The heart, the inner three to five stalks, brings great texture and flavor to all sorts of salads without the stringiness or bitterness of the outer ribs (these do their job best in stocks and braises and, of course, soffritto, sauteed diced vegetables that constitute the requisite base of Italian ragùs and stews. Use good-sized herb sprigs or add a couple more if yours are small.–Sara Jenkins and Mindy Fox
LC UNLIKELY YET LIKABLE NOTE
At first glance the ingredients in this recipe may seem a tad unlikely. Yet if you think about it, you’ll find that there’s brilliance, or at least logic, lurking in this recipe. Rich, crisp croutons. Gamy, tender rabbit. Distinctive, crunchy celery. Yup. An assemblage of unlikely yet likable ingredients.
- 3 large rosemary sprigs leaves only
- 3 large savory sprigs leaves only
- 3 large sage sprigs leaves only
- 4 garlic cloves
- One (2 3/4- to 3-pound) rabbit
- 5 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil plus more for frying
- 4 ounces country bread cut into 1/2-inch cubes (about 2 cups)
- 1 celery heart and as many celery leaves as you want
- 1 tablespoon good red wine vinegar such as Volpaia
- Fine sea salt and coarsely ground black pepper to taste
- Finely chop the herbs together with the garlic. Cut the rabbit in half lengthwise, then crosswise into 8 pieces. Toss the rabbit pieces with the herb mixture and 2 tablespoons oil in a bowl, then transfer it a baking dish, scraping the oil and herb mixture over the rabbit. Let the rabbit marinate at room temperature for 30 minutes or cover and refrigerate for as long as overnight. (If marinating overnight, bring the rabbit to room temperature before roasting.)
- Heat the oven to 450°F (230°C).
- Roast the rabbit until golden and cooked through, 40 to 45 minutes.
- When the rabbit is close to being done, heat 1/2 inch oil in a medium skillet over high heat until a bread cube dropped in turns golden. Remove the test cube, add the remaining cubes and fry, stirring with a slotted spoon, until golden, about 30 seconds. Drain on paper towels.
- Thinly slice the celery heart and toss with the celery leaves, the remaining 3 tablespoons oil, vinegar, and salt and pepper to taste. Add the bread cubes and toss to combine. Serve the roasted rabbit salad warm.
Originally published April 1, 2008