Silence of the Rabbits

I thought it was time to include a recipe for rabbit stew. Now some of you will want to stop right here.

And the rest of you who are still with me might want to rethink your decision.

There is just no two ways about it, La France is very hands on with their beasts. The fish come with scales, the chickens come with (at least some) feathers sticking out and the fatty tail and neck flap.

Rabbits come with heads.

It’s a law here, dating back to the War, one instated to prove that you are indeed buying a rabbit and not, for instance, a cat. (à la Barber of Seville).

Thanks, but I’d almost rather not know. And you? Sure you still want to cook like a frenchie?

You can’t handle the truth!  (It’s been nice knowing all of you.)

It was quite a job to get this thing in pieces. I had to use a rubber glove to hold it because I couldn’t bear to touch … (shudder). And I had to supplement the carving with kitchen shears because my cleaver was so dull (hack, hack, hack).

But here it is in all its respectability, all signs of former life removed. I also put the liver aside.

Now let’s have a moment of silence in honor of Bugs.

Okay, fry up some bacon. Here it’s called “lardons,” which I can’t exactly say stirs envy. If it were regular bacon, I’d say use about 6-8 pieces that you’d break into bits.

Once cooked, I covered them with paper towels to soak up as much oil as I could, and washed the skillet.

Then put four heaping tablespoons of dijon mustard into the bowl with the rabbit, 1 tsp of salt and ½ teaspoon white pepper and mix it into the rabbit parts (use bare hands if you can stand it).

Cover the pieces with flour (which will thicken the liquid into a stew).  I used gluten free, which is mainly corn starch.

Brown the pieces in 2 tablespoons of olive oil. That means the skillet should be very hot before you even put the meat in. I should have broken it up into two even batches, but instead I crammed the first batch into the skillet, leaving 4 remaining pieces that didn’t fit. I had to brown a second batch and ended up needing 2 more tablespoons of olive oil to keep the flour from burning.

Once the rabbit was browned, I put it directly into a larger pot and cut up 3 shallots.

Well, it was supposed to be 3 but I hadn’t realized what little ones the grocer had given me. Do pearl shallots exist? So I used seven.

And minced up 2 large cloves of garlic.

I sautéed those on low heat with the rest of the oil and browned bits in the skillet.  I also added about a teaspoon of butter for taste. (I don’t think this recipe will make Weight Watchers any time soon).

I put the lardons (bacon), shallots and garlic over the rabbit pieces.

Then I went out to clip some bay leaves

and some sprigs of thyme.

And I poured about half a bottle of white wine over the stew pieces (we only have alcohol free in our house, so that’s what I used) plus a glassful of red that we had left over. Then I poured in 2 cups of water.

I made sure it boiled first, then I turned the heat down to simmer (covered) for an hour and 15 minutes.

Mushrooms. About four handfuls.

After the time had passed, I added the sliced mushrooms and the liver and simmered for 15 more minutes.

Then it was done.

I tasted it …. it seemed to be missing some flavor so I added one more heaping tablespoon of dijon mustard. Aah! Perfect.

And then I added ¼ cup of crème fraiche (you can use sour cream).

And that’s it, my fine friends.

So good over noodles.

So perfect on a day like today.

Rabbit Stew
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
Recipe type: Entree
  • 1 whole rabbit, covered in:
  • 4 heaping T dijon mustard
  • 1 t salt
  • t pepper
  • flour (as much as it takes)
  • 6-8 slices bacon
  • 3 large shallots
  • 2 large cloves of garlic
  • 3 bay leaves
  • fresh thyme
  • bottle of wine
  • 2 cups water
Add 15 minutes before end of cooking time: 4 handfuls of mushrooms, sliced the rabbit liver Right before serving add: 1 more Tablespoon of dijon mustard ¼ cup crème fraiche


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I am the daughter of a symphony musician who was raised in upstate New York, and I simply breathe all things classical, be it music or 19th century literature (English and Russian). I married Sir Renaissance in New York City, and before I knew it, he had swept me up and brought me back home to his own country. So here we are. Three children, a rather ordinary life in a rather exceptional place. I am now ‘A Lady in France.’

Posted in Food, La Cuisine (The Kitchen), Les Français (The Frenchies), Main Dishes, Meat & Fish, Tout le Reste (Everything else) Tagged with:
11 comments on “Silence of the Rabbits
  1. Ms. Pearl says:

    I’m sure it’s delicious, but I…can’t. Too many nights of reading Peter Rabbit, The Runaway Bunny and Goodnight Moon to my sons!

  2. Helena says:

    Oh my gosh. Those pictures…that head…. I would love to try it (even thought the possibility of it being undercooked would make me nervous. I’ve heard of rabbit fever), but I could never handle the truth behind the meat. I like to buy my animals pre-cut and packaged, thankyouverymuch.

  3. Dad says:

    Hi Jennie

    You may or may not remember the time that I came home from hunting with a bunch of rabbits and asked you all (primarily Jeff) to clean them. It wasn’t pretty–I thought I was about to see my children run away from home. Anyway, I wish we could get fresh rabbit here (frozen, yes). Maybe it’s time to be a bit more aggressive in protecting the garden.

  4. Sorry. Couldn’t get past the rabbit head. Poor Peter Cottontail.

  5. Mrs.Mayhem says:

    Lady Jennie, I love your posts, but I do NOT want to cook like a french woman.

    That poor little bunny!!

  6. Leanne says:

    Oh dear . . . poor bunny. this was a hard one for me. (although, when I thought of the darn bunny who ate the beets and carrots from our garden this summer, a very evil smile suddenly came upon my face. Oh, dear. You brought out “Dark Leanne”!!!)

  7. Stacia says:

    On the rare occasions that we mostly vegetarians have meat, I make my husband buy it, prepare it, cook it, and clean up after it’s done. Just. Can’t. Handle. It. Blech!

  8. Mop says:

    As Julia once said, we Americans need to get over our squeamishness about small game. Or we could just be vegetarians. I bought a rabbit to support our local economy, but it was headless, and it still smelled funky before the Silician ingredients took over.

I'm Jennie. Welcome to A Lady in France! I write books, and also this blog on faith, French culture and recipes ... ( To continue reading, please click here. )

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