Konijn met pruimen
This is a very popular authentic Flemish recipe. We call it "Konijn met pruimen", rabbit with prunes. Only 3 main players; a rabbit, a bottle of dark brown beer that can be trappist as I used or another abbey beer like for instance a dark Leffe. This is a 75 cl bottle from which I used around 50 cl. The rest was used to fuel the cook, me. And number three is prunes. I used these French "pruneaux d'Agen" but Californian prunes are equally perfect in this dish.
- Sear the pieces of rabbit in oil/butter on medium high fire until all sides are nicely colored; take as much time as needed, this is slooooooow food before that concept was invented. I use a separate large pan for this, searing just a few pieces at a time. Do season systematically all meat well in this stage!!
- Meanwhile in a large cooking pot; sweat onion and/or shallots and garlic on low fire. Add a good pinch of dried thyme (a must in this dish).
- Add all meat to the cooking pot and dust with flour, turn the meat often and let cook for a while.
- Meanwhile; deglaze the hot pan in which you seared the meat with the beer; do taste the beer before, you never know...hahaha. Scrape all bits of goodness from the bottom.
- Pour the hot beer into the cooking pot over the rabbit up to a good 2/3 height. Fill the rest of the pot with veal stock or simply water until the meat is just covered. Add a couple of bay leaves and a sprig of fresh thyme.
- Simmer for 45 minutes. Then add the prunes and let simmer for another 30-45 minutes. Don't add the prunes too soon or they will nearly disappear when finished!
- Check seasoning, but above all the balance! Sometimes you need to add a little vinegar to get it right like I had to do this time. Much depends on the acidity of the beer you use.
Potatoes; We always serve this with humble simply boiled potatoes. Delicious to crush in the sauce! Another component is apple compôte, a true must.
Apple compôte; Normally you would stew apples with a bit of water and butter but this time I fried cubes of apple in good butter, then sprinkled a little sugar over them and added a hand of raisins and a squeeze of lemon juice. Delicious, even if I say so myself!
I used only shallots but later on I caramelized a few handfuls of white baby onions in butter and a little sugar and added them together with the prunes to the rabbit.
This dish can be made the day before and reheated, the taste will improve dramatically!