Lapin Sauvage Etouffee -- or as we say in English -- Smothered Wild Rabbit'
Updated: Feb 24
Okay, so the translated name of the recipe is, basically, smothered wild rabbit – smothered in sauce, that is and not with something like a pillow or a plastic bag. But let the French-titled version roll off your tongue and then enjoy the amalgamation of tastes as it passes through your gums. This is another of those flavorful, Cajun-influenced recipes that we love to adapt for wild game. While this recipe works exceptionally well with a plump Virginia cottontail, it can also be used for domestically-raised rabbits, ducks, or even chicken.
1 medium to large wild rabbit (jointed)
3 cups chopped onion (recommend mixing varieties – i.e. yellow, Vidalia, red)
2 TBSP chopped, fresh garlic
1 cup chopped bell peppers (mix up some colors)
1 cup chopped celery
½ cup chopped fresh parley
1 TBSP fresh or dried chopped thyme
10 ounces sliced andouille sausage (sliced about 1/6-inch thick)
¾ cup olive oil
4 ounces butter (or non-diet margarine)
1 cup white, dry wine
1 cup chicken stock/broth
2 TBSP Worcestershire sauce
1 TBSP hot sauce
Salt/Pepper (to taste)
About 12 TBSP of white flour
3 cups cooked white or wild rice
1-2 favorite cold beers (to drink while you’re preparing the dish)
There are two ways to prepare the rabbit for this dish. One is to brown the jointed pieces and then keep them whole while cooking with the sauce. The other involves parboiling the rabbit pieces and then boning the meat before browning. If you have the time, parboiling the rabbit in lightly salted water for about 15-20 minutes (or until it can be pulled from the bone) does make the eventual eating a little neater and easier. Rabbit on the bone is a “finger food.”
Melt the butter in a Dutch oven or a deep, coverable pan. Cast iron or non-stick are both fine choices. Heat until it starts to smoke and quickly brown the rabbit pieces. Do not burn the butter and oil. Remove rabbit pieces as they brown and set them aside. Now, we make the roux. Leave the butter/oil blend in the pan and reduce heat to low. Slowly begin stirring in the flour. Add more flour if the consistency remains too “soupy.” Stir constantly while this mixture cooks. Don’t rush it! Have a beer. It will begin slowly changing color and darkening. Cook it until it’s just a little darker than the color of peanut butter. If it doesn’t start changing color after about 10 minutes of stirring and cooking, slightly increase heat – every stove is a little different.
Add the chopped vegetables, Worcestershire sauce, hot sauce, sausage, and half of the garlic and
parsley to the roux. Stir frequently and cook another about 9-12 minutes over low/medium heat or until onions begin to become translucent.
Add rabbit meat, wine, chicken stock, remainder of garlic, parsley and thyme. Stir. Cover tightly and place in oven. Cook for about 2 hours if rabbit is boned and up to 3 hours if meat remains on bone.
Serve: Serve over rice. Serves 4-6. This dish pairs nicely with light, dry red wines as long as they aren’t too “fruit forward.” Some pinot noirs, Chianti or sangiovese wines work well. For beer, try a summer or fall ale or lager, avoiding anything too “hoppy.” For dessert, warm bread pudding with vanilla ice cream or a baked, spiced pear with ice cream make good choices.