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Rabbit rillettes with champagne gelee

Kick the evening off with these yummy starters!  Rabbit Rillettes is a delicious recipe that turns a wild rabbit into a traditional country-style pate or terrine that uses pork fat to preserve. Served with champagne gelee, you'll love how indulgent and elegant this dish is. 



Rabbit Rillettes

  • 4 rabbit legs and thighs
  • 1/3 bottle (~1 1/4 cups/250 ml) champagne
  • 2 tablespoons (30 ml) salt
  • 1 lemon, peel only, wide strips
  • 1 1/2 pounds (~600 g) duck fat
  • 3 sprigs thyme
  • 3 sprigs rosemary
  • 3 garlic cloves, peeled
  • 3 bay leaves
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons (7.5 ml) black pepper
  • 1 whole nutmeg, cracked + 1/2 teaspoon (2.5 ml) grated
  • Salt and pepper, to season
  • 2 tablespoons (30 ml) butter, room temperature
  • 3 tablespoons (45 ml) Dijon mustard
  • 1 small orange, zested

Champagne Gelee

  • 6 sheets (10 g) gelatin
  • 2/3 bottle (~2 1/4 cups/500 ml) champagne
  • 1/4 cup (60 ml) granulated sugar
  • 6 each blackberries and raspberries


  • Finely chopped tarragon, parsley, chives
  • Edible flowers
  • Crostini


For the Rillettes

  1. Brine the rabbit legs in a large zip-top bag with champagne, salt, and lemon peel.
  2. Refrigerate for at least two hours, up to overnight.
  3. Preheat the oven to 275° F (135° C).
  4. Melt the duck fat in a heavy pan over medium heat.
  5. Remove the rabbit legs from the brine, pat dry, and add to the fat.
  6. Add the thyme, rosemary, garlic, bay, pepper, and whole cracked nutmeg and return to a low simmer.
  7. Cover, transfer pot to oven and cook for three to four hours, until the meat is starting to get tender.
  8. Uncover the pan and cook for a further hour, until any bubbling subsides and the meat is very tender.
  9. Remove from the oven and strain through a sieve set over a heat-proof bowl.
  10. Spread the solids on a pan to cool, reserve the fat.
  11. When cool enough to handle, debone the meat and shred until it resembles a fine fibrous mass. 
  12. Discard the bones, cartilage, garlic, rosemary, bay, nutmeg, and thyme.
  13. Combine the meat with half a cup (120 ml) reserved fat, grated nutmeg, butter, Dijon, orange zest, season with salt and pepper.
  14. Reserve in the refrigerator.

For the Champagne Gelee

  1. Bloom the gelatin in cold water for five to eight minutes, until soft.
  2. In a saucepan over medium heat, combine the champagne with the sugar and bring to a simmer.
  3. Turn off heat and whisk in soft gelatin sheets and stir until dissolved.
  4. Remove from heat and let chill for 15 minutes.
  5. Line a glass five-by eight-inch (12.5 x 20.5 cm) dish with parchment and pour in the gelee.
  6. Carefully place the berries into the liquid in even intervals, about one inch (2.5 cm) apart.
  7. Refrigerate for at least two hours until firmly set.

To Serve

  1. Present the Rillettes using a two-and-a-half-inch ring mould. Garnish with chopped herbs.
  2. Use a one-to-one and a half-inch ring mould/cookie cutter to cut out neat coins of the gelee with berries in the middle. 
  3. Garnish with edible flowers, as desired.
  4. Serve cold with crostini on the side. Enjoy!


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