A French civet is normally a winter dish made with hare. It is cooked in red wine and the sauce is traditionally thickened with the animal's blood, which gives the civet its characteristic colour and taste. A simpler year-round civet can be made with rabbit, marinated overnight in an aromatic mixture of wine, garlic and peppercorns. Even without the blood, this stew has a mildly gamey taste and is best served with a rich red wine either from Burgundy or the Côtes du Rhône.
1.75 kg (3.5 lb) rabbit
1 medium carrot, sliced
1 medium onion, sliced
2 cloves garlic, crushed
2 whole cloves
1 Bouquet Garni
1 litre (1.75 pints) dry red wine
45 ml (3 tbsp) cognac
15 ml (1 tbsp) vegetable oil
100 g (3.5 oz) butter
45 ml (3 tbsp) flour
Salt and freshley ground pepper
1 kg (2 lb) waxy potatoes (red or white)
36 pickling onions
15 ml (1 tbsp) sugar
150 g (5 oz) green unsmoked bacon, sliced 1 cm (1/4 inch) thick
15 ml (1 tbsp) vegetable oil
225 g (8 oz) button ov quartered large mushrooms, trimmed
3 sliced day-old white bread, crusts removed
30 g (1 oz) buttr, melted
45 ml (3 tbsp) chopped parsley
Cut the rabbit into serving pieces (see technique photographs). Put the pieces into a non-aluminium container with all of the marinade ingredients except the oil, then drizzle the oil over the top. Leave the rabbit to marinate for at least 12 hours, or overnight.
Preheat the oven to 220 C (425 F) mark 7.
Remove the rabbit pieces from the marinade and pat dry with paper towels. Strain the marinade; reserve the liquid and the vegetables separately. Heat 45 g (1.5 oz) butter in a heavy flameproof casserole over high heat. Add the rabbit pieces and cook until golden brown on all sides. Transfer to a shallow dish. Add the marinated vegetables to the casserole and cook over high heat until lightly browned. Stir in the flour and cook for 1 minute. Whisk in the marinade and bring to the boil. Reduce the heat and simmer the marinade for 2 minutes, stirring occasionally. Return the rabbit pieces to the casserole, season with salt and pepper and cook in the oven for about 45 minutes, until the pieces are tender when pierced with a knife.
Meanwhile, turn and boil the potatoes à l'anglaise. Meanwhile, keep warm in the cooking liquid.
Peel and glaze the pickling onions with 15 g (1/2 oz) butter, a pinch of salt and the sugar. Cover to keep warm.
Cut the bacon into lardons; blanch and drain. Heat 15 ml (1 tbsp) oil and 30 g (1 oz) butter in a frying pan over high heat. Add the blanched lardons and cook until crisp and golden. Drain and add to the pan with the onions.
Heat 30 g (1 oz) butter in the pan used for the lardons. Add the mushrooms and cook over high heat until the moisture has evaporated and the mushrooms are golden. Add to the pan with the onions and the lardons.
Prepare the croûtons: cut each slice of bread in half to form 2 triangles. Brush each triangle on both sides with melted butter and arrange on a baking sheet. Toast in the oven until golden; set aside.
When the rabbit is tender, remove from the oven. Transfer the rabbit pieces to a bowl. Strain the cooking liquid, pressing down on the solids to extract the liquid; discard the solids. Return the strained liquid to the casserole, bring to the boil, and reduce over medium heat until thickened Return the rabbit, along with the onions, lardons and mushrooms to the casserole and simmer for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Taste and adjust the seasoning.
To serve, transfer the rabbit, onions, lardons and mushrooms to a large serving platter with a slotted spoon. Dip one end of each croûton into the sauce and then into the chopped parsley and arrange around the edge of the platter. Spoon the sauce over the rabbit and vegetables. Serve with the boiled potatoes.