Smoky Spanish paprika adds deep flavor to this braise from Chef Katie Button of Cúrate and Nightbell, matching perfectly with gamey, succulent rabbit.
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- 1⁄4 cup kosher salt, plus more
- 1⁄4 cup packed light brown sugar
- 10 whole black peppercorns
- 7 cloves garlic, crushed and peeled
- 3 bay leaves
- 1 (3-lb.) whole rabbit, broken down into 4 legs and 2 loins on the bone (have your butcher do this)
- 1 1⁄2 cups white wine
- 2 tbsp. white wine vinegar
- 2 tsp. pimentón (smoked Spanish paprika)
- 1⁄2 tsp. ground cumin
- 1 dried New Mexican chile, stemmed and seeded
- 2 tbsp. olive oil
- Freshly ground black pepper
In a small saucepan, combine the 1⁄4 cup salt with the brown sugar, peppercorns, 2 garlic cloves, 2 bay leaves, and 1 cup water and bring to a boil, stirring to dissolve the salt and sugar. Remove the pan from the heat, stir in 2 cups cold water, and let cool. Pour the brine into a large zip-top plastic bag, add the rabbit pieces, and refrigerate at least 8 hours or overnight.
Heat the oven to 350°. In a blender, blend the 5 remaining garlic cloves and bay leaf with the wine, vinegar, pimentón, cumin, chile, and 2 1⁄2 cups water until smooth. Drain the rabbit pieces, pat dry with paper towels, and discard the brine.
In an 8-qt. saucepan, heat the olive oil over high. Season the rabbit with salt and pepper, add to the pan, and cook, turning once, until browned all over, about 8 minutes. Pour in the blended wine and spices and bring to a boil. Cover, place in the oven, and cook until the rabbit is tender, about 1 1⁄2 hours. Transfer the pan to a rack, lift the rabbit from the pan, and transfer it to a serving platter.
Place the pan over high heat and boil the braising liquid until reduced to 3⁄4 cup, about 5 minutes. Spoon the sauce over the rabbit and serve while hot.