Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Lapin en Créole Moutarde Crème Velouté a la Vol Au Vent

     Louisiana Creole Mustard Cream Braised Rabbit in Vol Au Vent Pastry!
     There are many traditional European rabbit recipes to choose from and rabbit is often featured in European fine dining cuisine.  In America, rabbit is not mainstream food item, so relatively few fine dining restaurants offer rabbit on the menu.  In American farm country, rabbit is a pest that is cultivated by hunters to keep their numbers in check, so farm country is where the best American rabbit recipes are usually found.  One exception is Louisiana, where the old French culinary heritage holds fine rabbit recipes in high regard.
     Rabbit can prepared like chicken, but rabbit takes much more time to become tender.  With this in mind, rabbit should be limited to braising or slow roasting recipes.  Stewing and braising techniques guarantee that the rabbit will be tender.  Marinating the rabbit in an acidic solution beforehand also helps to tenderize the meat too.  
     Louisiana Creole Mustard is nice choice for flavoring a cream sauce, especially when a strong zesty mustard flavor is desired.  There are many old traditional Louisiana rabbit recipes that require Creole Mustard, so this flavor combination is well proven.  
     Serving a saucy braised item in Vol Au Vent Pastry is a classic food presentation.  Vol Au Vent food presentations were popular from the 1800's through the late 1900's, then with the advent of modern fusion and health cuisines many of the old classic food presentation styles were abandoned.  While working as a sous chef at a French café in the 1980's, I marketed Vol Au Vent entrées on the special du jour board at least once per week.  
     Saucy braised light meat in a Vol Au Vent was a popular lunch entrée back in those days and I have seen relatively few restaurants offer this item during the last decade.  Even so, because of the convenience of frozen puff pastry products in grocery stores, Vol Au Vent entrées are now more popular in private home dining rooms than restaurants.  
     Frozen Par-Baked Voul Au Vent and Frozen Puff Pastry Dough Sheets can be found in most grocery stores.  Serrated stainless steel ring molds are all that is needed to cut puff pastry sheets to make a Vol Au Vent.  A Par-Baked Vol Au Vent product only needs to be heated in an oven till the pastry turns golden brown.  I have never tried one of the Par-Baked Vol Au Vent products before, so I tested this product in today's recipe photo example.  The Par-Baked Vol Au Vent product has a perfect uniform shape, but the texture and flavor is not quite as good as a Vol Au Vent that is made with fresh or frozen puff pastry dough sheets.  Even so, the Par-Baked Vol Au Vent product is a nice convenience for home cooks that have limited time to spend in the kitchen.        
     Vol au Vent Pastry Options:
     • If you prefer to make your own Puff Pastry Dough Sheets from scratch, then follow this link to the recipe in this website:  Pâte Feuilletée (French Puff Pastry Dough) and Blitz Puff Pastry Dough
     • To make Vol Au Vent with a Fresh or Frozen Puff Pastry Dough Sheet product, follow this link to the instructions in a recipe in this website:  Fresh or Frozen Puff Pastry Dough Vol au Vent
     • If you prefer to use a Frozen Par-Baked Vol Au Vent product, then follow the baking instructions on the box!  

     Marinated Rabbit Preparation:
     Whole Rabbit is usually sold as a frozen product at butcher shops. 
     Step 1:  Select 1 whole prepared rabbit that weighs 2 1/2 to 3 pounds.  
     Cut off the hind legs and fore legs and set them aside.
     Step 2:  Use a boning knife to remove the loin straps from inside the rib cage.
     Use a boning knife to remove the back straps that run along the spine.
     Set the strap meat sections aside with the legs.
     *Save the bare rib cage and back bones for making stock or just discard the carcass.
     Step 3:  Place the rabbit legs and strap meat in a container.
     Add 1 tablespoon of Creole Mustard.
     Add 1/4 cup of dry white wine.
     Add 1/2 teaspoon of lemon juice.
     Add 1 tablespoon of black peppercorns.
     Add 1 sprig of thyme.
     Toss the ingredients together, so the rabbit is coated with marinade.
     Step 4:  Seal the container.
     Marinate the rabbit in a refrigerator for 4 to 6 hours.
     Step 5:  Rinse the marinade off of the rabbit pieces.
     Use a pastry towel to pat the meat dry.  
     Set the rabbit pieces aside or chill them for later use. 
     Lapin en Créole Moutarde Crème Velouté :
     This recipe yields 2 entrée portions.  (Enough for 4 petite Vol Au Vent.)
     Step 1:  Heat a wide sauté pan over medium heat.
     Add 1 tablespoon of vegetable oil.
     Add 2 tablespoons of unsalted butter.
     Add the reserved marinated rabbit pieces.
     Sauté till the rabbit is almost fully cooked and light brown highlights appear.
     *The smaller pieces will cook quicker, so remove them from the pan when they are done, then continue cooking the larger pieces.  
     Step 2:  Remove the pan from the heat.
     Remove the sautéed rabbit pieces from the pan and place them on a cutting board.
     Let the rabbit pieces cool.
     Remove the rabbit meat from the bones.  (Discard the bones.)
     Cut the rabbit meat into small bite size pieces and set them aside.
     Step 3:  Heat a sauce pot over medium low heat.
     Add 1 1/2 tablespoons of unsalted butter.
     Add 1/2 teaspoon of minced garlic.
     Add 2 teaspoons of minced shallot.
     Add 3 tablespoons of minced peeled celery.
     Gently sauté till the shallots turn clear in color.  (Try not to brown the ingredients!)
     Step 4:  Add just enough flour while stirring to soak up the excess butter and make a roux.  (About 2 to 3 teaspoons.)
     Constantly stir till the roux is combined and it turns a golden color.
     Step 5:  Add 1 cup of dry white wine.
     Raise the temperature to medium heat.
     Whisk as the sauce heats and thickens.
     Step 6:  Add 1 1/2 cups of light chicken stock.
     Add 2 1/2 tablespoons of Creole Mustard.
     Add 1 small pinch of thyme.
     Add 1 small pinch of tarragon.
     Add 1 pinch of sea salt and white pepper.  (to taste)
     Bring the sauce to a gentle boil, while whisking occasionally.
     *The sauce should be a very thin consistency at this point.
     Step 7:  Reduce the temperature to medium low heat.
     Gently simmer and reduce till the sauce is a thin consistency that can glaze a spoon.  
     Step 8:  Reduce the temperature to low heat.
     Add 1/2 cup of cream.
     Gently simmer and reduce till the sauce is a medium thin sauce consistency that can easily coat the pieces of rabbit meat.
     Step 9:  Reduce the temperature to very low heat.
     Add 1/2 teaspoon of chilled unsalted butter while stirring.
     Keep the Lapin en Créole Moutarde Crème Velouté warm over very low heat or in a 135ºF bain marie.

     Lapin en Créole Moutarde Crème Velouté a la Vol Au Vent:
     This recipe yields 1 entrée.
     Step 1:  Place two small Vol Au Vent pastry shells on a plate.  (Or 1 large Vol Au Vent.)
     Spoon the rabbit and some sauce into the vol au vents.
     Spoon the Lapin en Créole Moutarde Crème Velouté into each Vol Au Vente, so it overflows the pastry cup and cascades onto the plate.
     Step 2:  Sprinkle about 1/2 tablespoon of bias sliced green onion over each Vol Au Vent.
     Place a vegetable of your choice on the plate.  (Buttered Snap Peas are a nice choice!)
     Garnish with an Italian Parsley sprig.

     This is a nice tasting Louisiana style rabbit entrée!

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