Known in England as Jugged har and in France as civet de lievre the German version of this dish given here is very popular The chef advises marinating the rabbit to produce the flavor of the original recipe, but it is not mandatory. It is crucial, however, to use young, fresh (not frozen) rabbit for a tender result.
Yields 6 servings
FOR THE MARINADE
FOR THE MUSHROOMS
FOR THE ONIONS
FOR THE CROUTONS
Rinse the rabbits under running cold water, drain, and, with the boning knife, disjoint each into six pieces: two forelegs with shoulders, two loin sections (''rable"), and two hind legs. Set the pieces into the ceramic or, glass bowl. Peel the onion and chop it coarsely with the chef's knife. Rinse the celery stalk, remove any leaves, make it as stringless as possible, and chop it coarsely. Scrub the carrot and chop it coarsely. Add the three vegetables to the bowl with the rabbit. Then add the bay leaf and thyme. Lightly crush the juniper berries and the black peppercorns in the mortar and pestle and add them to the bowl. Add the clove, peel the garlic, and add it. Pour on the wine and the vinegar, mix all together well, cover the bowl tightly with plastic wrap, and set it into the refrigerator to marinate for two to three days. (If the rabbit is not covered by the marinade, either add more wine or after the first day turn the rabbit pieces over.) When you are ready to cook, remove the rabbit from the marinade and let the pieces drain on pa per towels. Reserve the marinade. Pat the rabbit dry. Combine the flour with the salt and pepper on your work surface, roll the rabbit pieces in it to dust them thoroughly, and reserve.
Remove the rind from the bacon and cut it into ½ -inch cubes or lardons. (If you use salt pork, parboil in water for l0 minutes before cubing.) Set the sauté pans over medium high heat, divide the lardons between them, and sauté, stir ring, until they are crisp. Remove lardons to paper towels to drain and reserve them. Divide the rabbit pieces between the pans. Brown the rabbit well on all sides, turning as necessary (this should take 8 to l0 minutes).
Preheat oven to 325F.
Remove the rabbit to the Dutch oven. Drain excess fat from sauté pans. Strain the marinade into a bowl and add all the vegetables to the Dutch oven. Divide the marinade between the sauté pans, bring to a simmer, and deglaze the pans, scraping up all the brown bits. Remove pans from heat and re serve. Set the Dutch oven over medium heat, sauté the rabbit and vegetables for 3 minutes, and then add the liquid from the sauté pans. Bring the rabbit to a simmer and cook for l 0 minutes. Add the demi-glace, return to a simmer, cover the pot, and set it into the oven to braise the rabbit for 40 minutes.
While the rabbit is braising, prepare the mushrooms, onions, and croutons. Brush the mush rooms gently of any clinging dirt. If they are large, cut them in half, otherwise leave them whole. Set the 10-inch sauté pan over medium heat, add the butter, and, when it is hot, stir in the mushrooms, season them lightly with salt, pepper, and lemon juice, and sauté them for 3 minutes. Scrape them from the pan into a small dish and reserve. For the onions, bring lightly salted water to boil in the saucepan, add the whole onions, return to a boil, and cook for 10 minutes. (If using pearl on ions, blanch them for 2 minutes.) Remove from heat, drain, and run cold water into the pan. Drain the onions again and peel them with the paring knife. Set the sauté pan over medium heat, add the butter, sugar, and onions, and sauté until they are light brown and glaceed. This should take 4 to 5 minutes. When done, drain off all excess fat and add the onions to the mushrooms. Wash out the sauté pan and reserve.
Cut the bread slices into croutons about 2 inches long and l/2 inch wide. Set the sauté pan over medium low heat, add the butter, and, when it is hot, stir in the croutons and sauté, stirring, until they are golden brown. Then remove from heat, drain on paper towels, and reserve.
The rabbit is done when a knife can be easily inserted into the meat and it comes away from the bone. When done, remove from oven and take the rabbit out of the pot with a slotted spoon. Let it rest on a platter while you finish the sauce. Set the Dutch oven over medium heat and bring to a simmer. Skim off the fat as it rises to the surface. Then pour the sauce through the sieve into the saucepan, set it over medium high heat, and simmer until the sauce is reduced by one-third. Then add the rabbit, mushrooms, and onions, and simmer gently for 2 minutes. Rinse tl1e parsley, spin or pat dry, and chop it with the chef's knife. Adjust the sauce seasoning if necessary and skim off any fat. When ready to serve, either presents the hasenpfeffer in a serving dish or on dinner plates. In either case, sprinkle with the reserved lardons, croutons, and the parsley.