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Whole Rabbit Porchetta

IngredientsMeat, Vegetables, Potatoes
Day PartDinner
Menu PartEntree
Cuisine TypeItalian
Whole Rabbit Porchetta

This Whole Rabbit Porchetta, available at Little Bird Bistro in Portland, Ore., is executive chef Erik Van Kley’s riff on a hearty, traditional Italian pork dish. An entrée for two, this recipe yields two rolled porchetta portions, a pair of legs cooked confit style and two pieces of toasted baguette spread with rabbit liver mouse, finished with a rabbit jus enriched with Dijon mustard and crème fraiche.


For the Rabbit
1 whole rabbit, with its livers
1 lemon, zested
1 tsp. ground caraway
1 tsp. fennel pollen
4 garlic cloves, microplaned to a paste, dressed with extra virgin olive oil
1/4 cup chopped curly parsley
Salt and pepper, to taste
As needed - Activa RM (transglutaminase or “meat glue”)  

For the Rabbit Liver Mousse
2 large rabbit livers
Cold butter, diced (equal to the weight of the livers)
1 garlic clove, peeled and sliced
1 shallot, peeled and sliced
1 pinch chili flakes
1 tbsp. Dijon mustard
Salt, to taste
1/4 cup aquavit
Oil-butter blend, for sautéing

For the Rabbit Jus
2 yellow onions, chopped
2 celery ribs, chopped
2 carrots, chopped
1 bunch fresh thyme
1 tbsp. black peppercorns
1 bulb garlic, coarsely chopped
3-4 bay leaves
1 qt. chicken stock
1 3/4 gal. water
1/4 cup Dijon mustard
1 cup crème fraiche
Salt, pepper, to taste
Lemon juice, to taste

For the vegetables
1 1/4 lbs. assorted rainbow carrots, peeled, halved and cooked
1 lb. fingerling potatoes, peeled and cooked
1 heaping tsp. ground caraway seed
1/4 lb. butter
1 large handful curly parsley, coarsely chopped


For the Rabbit

  1. Remove back legs, debone, lightly pound flat and set aside. Set rabbit on cutting board with backbone facing up toward you. Prop rabbit up on its front legs and use them like a kick stand. Working on either side of the backbone, begin deboning the rabbit working from the neck down, and trimming the meat away from the ribs as you go. You should end up with two rabbit halves each with its own loin, tenderloin, belly and front leg. Remove front leg and set aside. Reserve bones for stock.
  2. Remove loin and tenderloin from both belly pieces. Place the pounded back legs on board. Trim loin to size and place in the back legs with the tenderloins.
  3. Season both legs (front and back) and the bellies with all ingredients except Activa.
  4. Cook front legs sous vide in a water bath at 180 F. with 1 tbsp. of butter for six hours, then chill.
  5. Dust back legs with Activa and wrap the legs around the loin and tenderloin. Place leg roll on the edge of the bellies, dust with Activa and roll the legs in the bellies. You should end up with two neatly wrapped porchettas. Wrap each porchetta in film wrap and twist to tighten. Let rest refrigerated overnight.
  6. Cook the porchettas sous vide in a water bath at 155 F. for 1½ hours. Chill.

For the Rabbit Liver Mousse

  1. In sauté pan large enough to easily hold livers, heat butter-oil blend until very hot. Add livers and sear on both sides, being careful not to overcook (think medium). Remove livers, drain oil and place pan back on heat.
  2. Add the extra butter, garlic, shallot and chili flakes. Turn heat down and sauté vegetables until soft and fragrant.
  3. Add aquavit and reduce until almost dry.
  4. Place reduction (while still hot) into blender with the livers and Dijon mustard; puree until smooth. With blender still running, add cold butter one cube at a time, to emulsify. Pour mousse into container and chill.

For the Rabbit Jus

  1. Roast the rabbit bones and make a stock with vegetables, aromatics, chicken stock and water. Simmer stock for at least 3 to 4 hours.
  2. Strain stock and reduce to 2 cups of thick, dark rabbit stock.
  3. Whisk in 1/4 cup Dijon mustard and 1 cup crème fraiche. Season to taste with salt, peper and fresh lemon juice.

To Finish the Dish

  1. In a sauté pan large enough to hold the vegetables, both porchettas, and both front legs, heat a small amount of oil until very hot.
  2. Add the porchettas and brown evenly all the way around. Remove.
  3. Add the front legs and brown just the presentation side, remove. Drain oil from pan.
  4. Add the ¼ lb. butter and melt. Add the carrots, potatoes and caraway. Liberally salt the vegetables and toss to coat in hot butter.
  5. Add all the rabbit back to the pan and place in a 425 F. oven until hot and golden brown, about 15 minutes.
  6. Remove rabbit from pan and set aside to rest.
  7. Toss the vegetables with curly parsley and season with lemon juice. Arrange vegetables on warm platter. Pour half the rabbit jus on either side of the vegetables.
  8. Slice the porchettas, placing one on each side of the vegetables. Place one leg on either side of the vegetables. Garnish with rabbit liver spread evenly on two pieces grilled baguette and carrot greens. Serve with a carafe of the remaining rabbit jus.

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