Braised Rabbit With Marsala Wine and Wild Mushrooms
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 cup diced onions
1 cup sliced celery
1 cup peeled and sliced carrots
1/3 cup peeled and sliced parsnips (optional, but it adds a lot of flavor to the stock)
3 cloves garlic peeled
2 rabbits, either whole or cut into serving pieces, blanched as described above if needed
2 cups Marsala wine
6 large dried shiitake mushrooms, also known as Chinese black mushrooms
1 bay leaf
1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves
1 teaspoon salt
freshly ground black pepper to taste
4 tablespoons butter divided
8 ounces fresh shiitake mushrooms, stems removed and caps sliced thinly
2 tablespoons butter
2 cups thinly sliced onions
3 cloves garlic, finely minced
2 cups Marsala wine, divided
1 1/2 tablespoon tomato paste
Kitchen Bouquet or thick soy sauce as needed
roux brun made with 1/2 cup butter and 1/2 cup flour
2 tablespoons fresh thyme leaves
1 tablespoon fresh rosemary leaves, finely chopped
salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
Heat olive oil in the bottom of your stockpot or large dutch oven on medium heat. When it is hot, add the onions, celery, carrots, parsnips and garlic cloves, and cook, stirring until the onion is translucent and everything is fragrant.
Lay the rabbit down on top of the vegetables, and pour the first two cups of Marsala wine over everything. Add enough water to just barely cover the rabbits. Add the dried shiitake mushrooms, bay leaf, the first measure of thyme, the teaspoon of salt and the freshly ground pepper. Bring to a nice slow simmer. Do not allow to boil. Turn the heat down and allow to cook uncovered for 1 1/2 hours at the same slow simmer. Test the rabbit meat–if it is properly fork tender as described above, remove it from the pot, drizzling a bit of the cooking liquid over it to keep it moist as it cools.
Turn the heat up on the liquid in the pot and bring to a boil. Cook the stock down until it is reduced by half.
While the stock is reducing, melt the 1 tablespoon of the first measure of butter in a saute pan over medium high heat and allow to become foamy. Then, add 1/4 of the fresh shiitake mushrooms, and cook, stirring until they are lightly browned and tender and very fragrant and delicious. Set aside in a bowl. Repeat for the remaining mushrooms, using one tablespoon of butter and 1/4 of the mushrooms for each pan.
Take the second measure of butter and melt it in the same pan you cooked the mushrooms in. Add the onions, salt lightly and cook until they are a deep golden color. Add the garlic and keep cooking and stirring until the onions are a medium brown color and the garlic is golden and fragrant. Deglaze the pan with 1/2 cup of the second measure of Marsala wine. Add the onions and garlic to the mushrooms which are set aside.
The remaining 1 1/2 cups of Marsala wine goes into a small saucepan. Over medium heat, simmer until it reduces by half. Turn off heat and set aside.
When the stock has reduced by half, set a colander over a large bowl, and scoop all of the vegetables out of the stock. Squeeze out the dried mushrooms into the bowl, and then squish the cooked vegetables in the colander so that all of their juices run into the bowl. Discard the dried mushrooms and vegetables, rinse out the colander and line it with cheesecloth. Pour the remaining stock into the bowl, straining it into the cheesecloth lined colander. Wash out your pot and put it back on low heat. Add the strained stock, the reduced Marsala wine and bring to a boil.
Heat your roux up in a small saute pan until it is bubbling. Scrape the roux into the boiling stock and whisk like mad until it thickens nicely. Whisk in the tomato paste until it is completely combined. Stir in the sauteed mushrooms and caramelized onions. If the sauce is too pale, add a teaspoon or so of Kitchen Bouquet or thick soy sauce.
Remove the rabbit meat from the bones and add to the sauce, making certain to not accidentally slip any bones into the pot.
Stir the thyme and rosemary into the sauced rabbit, and season to taste with salt and pepper.
Serve over wide noodles or mashed potatoes. This should feed up to six or eight hungry adults.