RABBIT ROULADE WITH BRAISED PANCETTA
This recipe combines two techniques I’ve learned from other chefs. Chef David Walford at Splendido’s in Beaver Creek showed me the braised pancetta and his method of making roulades out of the hind legs. Chef Roland Passot of La Folie in San Francisco showed me how to make roulades out of the loin and the belly flap.
1 (6-ounce) piece of pancetta
1 tablespoon canola oil
½ cup diced yellow onions
⅓ cup diced carrots
1 cup white wine
2 cups chicken stock
1 bay leaf
1 rabbit fryer, about 2½ to 3½ pounds
About 4 ounces caul fat*, soaked overnight in water 1 tablespoon canola oil
1 tablespoon canola oil
2 tablespoons butter
2 sprigs fresh thyme or rosemary
Preheat oven to 350°F. Unroll the pancetta and cut it into approximately 4- by 4-inch squares; transfer to a small baking dish.
In a small pot over medium heat, sauté the onion and carrot in the 1 tablespoon canola oil until tender. Add white wine; bring to a rolling boil. Add the stock and bay leaf and bring to a boil. Pour the liquid over the pancetta; cover the baking dish with foil. Bake for about 3 hours, until very tender. Cool the braised pancetta in its liquid.
To butcher the rabbit, place it on a cutting board so its back is facing you and its hind end is closest to you. Remove the hind legs by a semicircular cut at the hipbone. Turn the rabbit over, snap it gently to expose the ball and socket joint connecting the hind leg to the hip and cut through it. Scrape the meat away from either side of the femur. Cut between the femur and the drumstick (set the drumstick aside for another use). Open up each hind leg into a rectangular shape and set aside. Remove the loin and belly flap. Carefully cutting against the spine, remove the loin along with the belly flap attached to it. Trim the loin and belly flap so you have rectangular pieces.
Cut 4 pieces of the cooled pancetta into thick matchstick pieces that fit inside each rabbit rectangle. Season the inside of each rabbit piece and roll up tightly. Place each roulade inside a 4- by 4-inch rectangle of caul fat. Roll up and secure with 3 pieces butcher twine.
Preheat oven to 400°F. heat the 1 tablespoon canola oil in a large sauté pan over high heat. Season outside of rabbit roulades with salt and pepper; brown all over in the oil. Transfer pan to the oven; roast rabbit about 7 minutes.
Remove the rabbit—the interior should read about 130°. Place pan back on the burner and baste rabbit with the 2 tablespoons butter and thyme or rosemary, about 1 minute. Transfer rabbit to a cooling rack; rest 5 minutes. Cut off the twine and slice each roulade into 4 slices. Serve with carrot or pea purée and/or roasted potatoes. Makes 4 servings.
* Find caul fat at Denver’s Oliver’s Meat Market or at the Butcher Block.