When we are in Cannes, one of the highlights of strolling down Rue Meynadier — the city’s second main shopping street — is seeing what Boucherie Brugère at No. 38 has on offer.

Also known as Au Roi du Charolais, this butcher’s shop has the best fresh meat in Cannes. L’Académie du Goût (Taste Academy) wrote a short article about Au Roi du Charolais, which Georges Brugères opened in 1996. It is currently run by Jean-Luc Olivari, who is from Nice and is the son of a livestock farmer. The meat comes from the most famous regions in France and is top quality:

Charolais beef, Limousin veal, Sisteron lamb, Bresse chicken — every item is one of tradition. The ribs of beef, specialities of the house, go to the “people” in the news, served on the yachts in the Bay of Cannes and in chic villas. Yet, every morning, the customer is king in Mr Olivari’s little shop.

One chill cabinet has whole volaille (chicken) de Bresse, complete with heads and feet. The one opposite has whatever is on offer that day. When we went there was a lot of lamb and veal, but also whole rabbit. How I wished that we were staying in rented accommodation so that I could prepare rabbit!

My wish came true once we got home. Last week, we bought a whole French rabbit for £8.99 from our own butcher! Gressingham Duck from Norfolk has been buying them and selling them to butchers in Britain.

You can get whole French rabbit online in the UK, but not at that incredibly low price. One place has it at £21.95 and another at £13.99.

I boned and sectioned the creature myself, which isn’t too difficult. When you buy the entire animal uncut, you get the offal, too!

This video from Scotland shows the various parts of the rabbit and how to butcher them:

After cutting the legs off, I cut my saddle (loin) slightly differently to the man in the video. I cut down the whole length of the back to get two lovely rabbit loins. Let the rabbit’s spine be your guide and make sure your knife is against the bone. That way, you’ll get all the delicious meat rather than leaving it behind.

Cut off the thin flaps of cartilage at each end of the loin and save for stock. Cut the backbone into four or five equal pieces.

To remove bones from the legs, slice down each one lengthwise and carefully cut the bone away from the flesh. A boning knife is particularly useful for this.

As one never knows how tender rabbit will be — and this is one of the major complaints from people who dislike eating it — it’s a good idea to marinate it.

Marinade for rabbit

1/2 cup port or white vermouth
3 cloves crushed garlic
3 to 4 sprigs of fresh rosemary
1 tbsp each of thyme, marjoram and oregano
1/2 tsp salt
two to three twists of cracked black pepper

I placed all the rabbit joints and the offal in the marinade and let set for 48 hours in the refrigerator. It probably takes less time, but I had another dinner planned for the intervening evening.

Stock

I made a delicious stock out of the bones and loin cartilage by sautéeing them in butter — you can also use lard or beef dripping — then filling the pot with water. Bring to a boil, skim and let simmer for an hour or two to reduce. Season to taste and remove from heat. Cool, then strain. The stock will become somewhat gelatinous, which is good.

Sautéed rabbit with sauce

Ingredients

Meat:

boned rabbit pieces
rabbit offal
1/2 cup seasoned flour (salt, black pepper, cayenne, with a scant teaspoon of mustard powder)
2 – 3 tbsp butter (I also use lard or beef dripping)

Sauce:

2 tbsp flour
2 tbsp butter
2 cloves crushed garlic
1/2 cup rabbit stock
Salt, black pepper, cayenne to taste
2 tbsp heavy cream

Method

1/ Heat the fat in a large skillet until sizzling.

2/ While the fat is coming up to temperature, prepare the seasoned flour, place the rabbit pieces — though not the offal — in a large plastic bag for food use and shake well to coat them evenly.

3/ Place half the rabbit pieces in the hot pan. Cook for approximately four minutes on each side until golden brown. Place on an oven proof plate or in a similar dish. Repeat the process with the other half of the rabbit pieces. If you want to see what they should look like when done, here’s our Scotsman again to explain:

4/ Quickly sauté the offal for two minutes on each side. Remove them from the pan to the plate or dish with your rabbit meat.

5/ Make the sauce in the skillet used to cook the rabbit. Melt the butter and flour together and cook until flour is bubbling and has a golden colour. You will have made a roux!

6/ Add crushed garlic and, little by little, add in the rabbit stock to make a sauce. Stir well. The roux will remain somewhat solid until you stir in enough liquid. Adding the liquid gradually and stirring thoroughly will prevent lumps!

7/ Once the sauce is smooth, add cream, stir well, allow to cook for a couple of minutes and season to taste.

8/ When the sauce is finished, remove the skillet from the heat. You can reheat it later before serving.

9/ To reheat the rabbit, place the oven proof dish in the oven at 170° C / 350° F for ten minutes.

10/ To serve, place half the sauce on the dinner plate and put half the rabbit pieces on top of the sauce. As for the offal, cut the liver — huge! — in half, serve one kidney per person and cut the tiny heart in half.

The meat will be very tender.

The offal is fantastic. I was surprised to see how large a rabbit’s liver is. It’s about the same size as a goose liver. It has a slightly sweet flavour — delicious! The kidneys and hearts are also very tender and tasty.

One part of the rabbit we did not eat were the lungs.

I’m sorry now, because there’s a chef in Chicago who sautés the lungs and serves them in his restaurant. They sound like a real treat. Here is Jeffrey Hedin from Leopold to tell us all about it:

In closing, I would encourage everyone to try rabbit, whether whole or already jointed, fresh or frozen. It is out of this world and won’t cost the earth!

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