Atlanta’s Canoe offers wonderful food in a gorgeous river-side setting. Go if you can get there. If not, tide yourself over with their braised rabbit. The lean, mild meat really shines in a rich candied garlic sauce, on top of creamy kale and goat cheese risotto. If you’ve only tried arborio risotto before, give carnaroli rice a chance to shine, and you just might discover a new obsession.
- Yields: 4 servings
- Total: 1 hr
- Active: 40 min
For the rabbit:
- 4 rabbit hind legs
- 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
- 1 onion, sliced
- 1 carrot, sliced
- 1 celery stalk, sliced
- 3 garlic cloves, minced
- 1 tablespoon tomato paste
- 4 fresh thyme sprigs
- 4 ounces sherry vinegar
- 24 ounces brown chicken stock
- kosher salt
- freshly ground black pepper
For the candied garlic sauce:
- 8 small garlic cloves, skin removed
- 4 ounces sugar
- 2 ounces water
- 4 ounces sherry vinegar
- 12 ounces reserved rabbit cooking liquid
For the kale and goat cheese risotto:
- 12 ounces carnaroli rice
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 2 shallots, finely diced
- 48 ounces chicken stock
- 4 ounces white wine
- 4 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 4 ounces grated Parmesan
- 4 ounces fresh goat cheese
- 1 bunch kale, chiffonade (cut crosswise into long, thin strips)
To make the rabbit:
- Preheat oven to 300 degrees. Season rabbit legs with salt and pepper on both sides.
- In a medium, oven-safe sauté pan, heat oil until lightly smoking. Add seasoned rabbit to pan and brown on both sides; you do not want to completely cook the rabbit in this step, just get a nice golden-brown color.
- Remove rabbit from pan, add the onion, carrot, celery, and garlic, and sauté, stirring occasionally, until lightly caramelized, 5 to 10 minutes. Add the tomato paste and sauté, stirring constantly, for another minute.
- Deglaze the pan with the sherry vinegar, scraping up any brown bits stuck to the bottom, and return the rabbit to the pan.
- Add enough stock to surround but not submerge the rabbit.
- Add thyme sprigs and bring to a light simmer, then cover.
- Place the pan in the oven and cook for 40-45 minutes, until tender.
- Remove rabbit from braising liquid and strain liquid through a fine mesh strainer or sieve.
- In a separate dish, place the rabbit and cover with 1/2 of the strained liquid. Reserve the other 1/2 of liquid for the candied garlic sauce.
To make the candied garlic sauce:
- In a small sauce pan, combine sugar and water, and bring to a boil.
- Cook to a medium caramel stage, then add the peeled garlic cloves.
- Cook garlic to a light golden brown in the caramel, being careful not to burn.
- Deglaze the pan with the sherry vinegar and reduce liquid by half.
- Add the reserved rabbit cooking liquid, simmer for 15-20 minutes, or until the liquid reaches a light sauce consistency.
To make the kale and goat cheese risotto:
- In a large pot, heat up the stock until almost simmering and keep warm on low heat to one side.
- In a large sauce pot, add oil and shallot and place over medium heat. Cook, stirring occasionally, until shallots are translucent, then add the rice.
- Gently stir the rice and “toast” the grains. This will take around 5 minutes, and when done, each individual grain will look translucent but will have a small dot of white in the middle. At this stage, add the wine and reduce by half.
- Once the wine has reduced, add just enough stock to barely cover the rice and continue stirring gently until all the stock is absorbed.
- When the stock has been absorbed, repeat this stage twice more.
- After the third time, taste the rice and be sure it is just past al dente (tender yet firm), and creamy.
- Add the kale and goat cheese and stir gently to incorporate. Once everything is well mixed, add the diced cold butter and Parmesan, stir again, and taste. Season with salt and pepper as needed, and serve on 4 warmed plates, each topped with a piece of rabbit and candied garlic sauce.
Courtesy of Green Olive Media.