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Ewergrin
Tuesday, November 30th, 2004, 07:20 PM
Compote of Rabbit and Prunes
Jeanne Marie for Le Poulet Gauche

1 cut up Rabbit for stewing (around 3 lbs)
lb salt pork, cut up (optional)
(I didn't use this at the feast because some people were not eating pork, but if you don't you need to add duck fat)
1 medium onion, chopped (I've used leeks also, very nice)
2 carrots chopped (can use parsnips also)
1-2 cloves garlic minced (this is not a "garlicky" dish, don't overdo it)
1-2 cups red wine
Duck Stock (you can use chicken, but I would increase the wine then to twice the amount)
1-2 good handfuls of prunes (about 12-20 depending on size)
Some kind of fat, I used duck fat
Verjus (if you don't have it I've used a mixture of lemon an vinegar 1:3 parts)
Your herbs (any of the following would be historically appropriate):
rosemary, marjoram, basil, oregano, sage, parsley, and thyme
(I believed I used Marjoram and Thyme when I made this for Le Poulet Gauche dinner)
Mustard, make your own or get some good, simple old-fashion mustard from the store.

OK If you are doing this at home I really recommend you dust off your crock pot/slow cooker. Otherwise, do this in a heavy, but not too big stew pot, or better yet a Dutch oven on the stovetop. If you are using a crock pot start the process in a skillet then transfer the onion/garlic/carrot mixture to the crockpot.

Take enough fat to melt in the bottom of the pan. Add the onions and cook on medium-low heat for 5-10 minutes then add carrots/garlic, cook another 5-10, add the rabbit (and optional salt pork if you are using it). There is no need to "brown" the rabbit thoroughly, but if you have it pre-programmed into you, knock yourself out. You are then going to add the red wine and stock and decrease the heat to a very low simmer. If you transfer the mixture to a crockpot, set it on low and use less liquid since you won't loose as much to water vapor. I believe a crockpot on low is like a pippin on the edge of the fire/coals stewing all day. You want to add the Verjus (about 2-3 tablespoons to taste), mustard (about twice amount as verjus) herbs & prunes towards the end of the cooking process. This is a good dish to make ahead, put in the refrigerator and pull out the next day and bring back to a simmer. When the dish is done the rabbit should be falling off the bone and very tender. You can pick out the extra bones to be nice to your guests. Obviously the more stock/wine you use the more liquid will be involved

If you are wondering of the source for this recipe, there is no one source. There are several examples of this kind of slow stewed rabbit dish, even ones with prunes. Master Lancelots de Casteau's Ouverture de Cuisine has several examples of "hochepots" that have similar components, although none are for rabbit. He has some for veal, however, which would be not too likely for the region/season I was cooking for. I was attempting to recreate dishes a cook would cook at the turn off the 17th c in the Perigord region of France. I find in valuable in these cases to look at good modern cookbooks that look into regional cuisine. This is all too easy in France since it appears every small area has it's own distinct region. I am well aware that one has to be careful about referring to modern texts. Just because they have a rabbit and prune recipe in a 14 c text and a rabbit and prune recipe in a 20th c text, doesn't mean they have anything to do with each other. On the other hand, using documented recipes from another area of France around the correct time period also has its pitfalls since cuisine was just as regional then, if not more so. In the end I try to use my head and think, what would Jeanne Marie like to cook? What would be realistic for her to cook given what little, and it is little, we know of cooking at the time. Let's face it, I can follow a recipe to the letter from a period text and it will taste nothing like it would in period because are produce and meat are so different now.

Anyway, hope you like it.