This recipe comes from David Tanis, a cookbook author and former chef at Chez Panisse in Berkeley, California.
- 2 rabbits (about 2 1⁄2 lbs. each), each cut into 6 to 8 pieces
- Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
- 1⁄2 lb. pancetta or unsmoked bacon, cut into 1⁄4"-thick strips
- 1 1⁄2 cups crème fraîche
- 3⁄4 cup Dijon mustard
- 2 tbsp. roughly chopped fresh thyme
- 2 tbsp. roughly chopped fresh sage
- 2 tsp. black or yellow mustard seeds, crushed
- 8 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
- 4 bay leaves
Season rabbit generously with salt and pepper and place in a large bowl along with remaining ingredients. Mix together with your hands until rabbit pieces are coated. Cover bowl with plastic wrap and let marinate at room temperature for at least 1 hour or overnight in the refrigerator.
If rabbit has been chilled, allow it to come to room temperature. Heat oven to 400° and arrange a rack in the middle of oven. Divide rabbit in a single layer between 2 shallow roasting pans and top with any of the remaining marinade. Roast the rabbit, turning once and basting with pan juices occasionally, until the juices have reduced and rabbit is cooked through, about 55 minutes. Set oven to broil and cook until golden brown, about 5 minutes more. Serve rabbit with pan juices.
Pairing Note Try a rich, low-tannin red, such as the vibrant Justification 2007 from Justin Vineyards in California's Paso Robles region; it pairs well with the dish's spicy notes. — David Rosengarten