Recipe and photos by Amanda Callahan of Callywood Farms
As the seasons change, I begin to crave more substantial flavors. This dish is a beautiful collaboration of summer fresh herbs paired with a robust but light German wheat ale. The rich gravy served with mashed potatoes has the feeling of a more wintery meal, but is countered by the lightness of herbs and rabbit.
When I ordered the rabbit through CAFE, it arrived in a package of eight pieces, including the liver and kidney. I put the liver in the freezer to make pate in the coming winter months.
The German wheat ale is from Pendleton Brewing Co., which opened last fall. Give it a try, or purchase your favorite local brew. If you choose a different beer to use in the braise, my only word of caution is to think about the balance of bitter and sweet. If you choose a hoppy IPA, I might be inclined to add a small amount of honey to brighten the dish.
A note about the herbs and spices: I tried to create a fresh version of Herbes de Provence. I used one stalk each of tarragon, oregano, rosemary and lavender alongside several basil leaves and a few thyme stalks. This was my flavor profile, but you could use anything! If you don’t have fresh herbs, try a generous tablespoon of dried Herbs de Provence. If possible, grind your own coriander to impart a bolder flavor than pre-ground versions. Coriander is often used in brewing American wheat ales, and I thought it would add brightness to the German wheat ale while adding a level of flavor beyond the herbs. If you use ground coriander, I might just add a smidge more that the recipe dictates.
Beer and Herb Braised Rabbit
8 pc. rabbit (approximately two pounds)
Salt and pepper
4 tablespoons butter, divided
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 onion, sliced
2 to 4 cloves of garlic, minced
2 heaping tablespoons fresh herbs OR 1 TB dried herbs (Herbes de Provence would be lovely)
1 (heaping) teaspoon coriander seeds, ground
1 1/2 cups of German wheat ale
2 tablespoons flour
1. Liberally season one side of rabbit pieces with salt and pepper.
2. In a Dutch oven over medium high heat, melt 2 tablespoons each of the butter and oil. When the oil becomes fragrant, place the seasoned side of the rabbit down into the pan. Cook for 2 minutes without touching or disturbing the meat to create a nice sear. Season the face-up side of the meat with salt and pepper. Turn the meat over and sear the other side. Remove the meat from the pan to a clean plate. Set aside.
3. Reduce the heat down to medium/medium low and add the sliced onion to the pan. Let the onion cook until translucent for about 5-6 minutes. Add the garlic, coriander, and herbs. Stir to incorporate for another minute.
4. Turn the heat up to high and slowly pour in the beer, scraping up any browned bits from the bottom of the pan. Allow the beer to cook off the alcohol over high heat for a minute or two. You should see steam rising.
4. Turn the heat down to the lowest setting. Add the rabbit back into the pan with any accumulated juices. Spoon the onion/herb/beer mixture on top. Cover with lid and allow the rabbit to cook for 20-30 minutes. This depends largely on how low you can go and how much the meat is already cooked from searing as to how long it will take! I checked mine right under 30 minutes and it was cooked perfectly; the meat had pulled from the leg bone.
5. Meanwhile, add the remaining 2 tablespoons of butter (hopefully it has softened now) to a small bowl. Combine the butter and flour and mash with a fork to create a paste.
6. When the rabbit is done, remove the meat from the pan to a plate (keep warm). With a whisk, add the butter paste and whisk into the remaining sauce and allow to simmer and thicken for about 3 minutes. Add the rabbit back to the pan!
7. Serve over mashed potatoes, pasta, rice or with crusty bread – you will want to soak up all that rich gravy!