Rabbit is a top-selling dinner item at Canoe, a farm-to-table New American restaurant. Diners clearly take to this lesser-known protein thanks to the deft technique that Matthew Basford, Executive Chef, brings to it.
“The success of this dish is in the slow braising of the rabbit combined with the searing to lock in the flavor and add depth of richness to the braise,” he says. “People also are willing to try something that they may not try at home. Excellent-quality rabbit is extremely hard to find, and cooking it correctly can be very challenging. The way we do it at Canoe combines both the highest quality rabbit and a cooking technique that requires a lot of time and patience.”
He first sears the rabbit hind legs until golden brown, then gently braises them in a liquid spiked with sherry wine vinegar and white wine. The rabbit is dressed with a robust sauce made with candied garlic and the braising liquid.
In this rendition, it sits atop ravioli stuffed with Swiss chard, goat cheese and sunchoke. “The combination of the candied garlic is complementary to the light gaminess that rabbit legs possess,” says Basford. The rabbit has been on the menu for 21 years, and while the cooking technique has remained the same, the accompaniments change with the seasons.
“Right now sunchokes look great and have the sweet flavor that pairs perfectly with goat cheese and a little lemon. The Swiss chard gives an earthy, herbal balance and ties the different levels of sweetness that the other ingredients bring.”