Fried Rabbit with Black Pepper and Honey


adapted from Il Buco Alimentari restaurant, NYC

Serves 3

1 three-pound rabbit, cut into 6 pieces
1 tablespoon plus 2 teaspoons coarse sea salt
1 garlic clove, crushed
2 three-inch strips lemon zest
1 bay leaf
½ teaspoon whole allspice, crushed
1 750-ml bottle dry white wine
1 cup crème fraîche
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
3 tablespoons chopped fresh tarragon
1 teaspoon lemon zest
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 tablespoon fennel seeds
¼ teaspoon ground cayenne
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup semolina flour
Vegetable oil, for frying
Honey, for drizzling
½ tablespoon freshly cracked black pepper

Place rabbit pieces in a medium-size heavy pot and add 1 tablespoon salt, garlic, lemon zest, bay leaf, allspice and wine. If rabbit is not entirely submerged, add water to cover.

Bring to a boil over medium-high heat, then reduce heat right away and simmer gently for 20 minutes. Cool rabbit in cooking liquid, then drain and discard liquid.

Meanwhile, whisk crème fraîche, mustard, tarragon, lemon zest and black pepper in a medium bowl. Add rabbit to marinade, turning to coat well, then scrape everything into a resealable plastic bag and refrigerate for 24 hours.

Lightly toast fennel seeds in a small skillet over medium heat until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Grind in a spice mill or mortar and pestle and transfer to a medium bowl; whisk in remaining 2 teaspoons salt, cayenne and flours.

Pour oil into a large, deep skillet to a depth of 1 inch. Heat over medium-high until deep-fry thermometer registers 325°. Set a wire rack inside a rimmed baking sheet.

Remove rabbit from bag and wipe off excess marinade. Working in 2 batches, dredge rabbit in flour mixture, shaking off any excess, and fry, turning once and adjusting heat to maintain a steady temperature. Remove after 10 minutes; skin should be a deep golden brown. Transfer rabbit to prepared rack. Sprinkle with coarse sea salt, drizzle lightly with honey and shower with cracked black pepper. Allow to cool for 10 minutes before serving.

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