Sunday, April 14, 2013

Lapin à la moutarde (yes, that's rabbit!)

Whenever we have friends over, I ask them whether they have any dietary restrictions. I did not use to do it at first because it is was very uncommon in France to do so. You just assumed everybody was eating the same food you did... and that, if they did not, they would eat it anyway to be polite! Things changed as the French society opened up: you knew you were not going to serve pork to Muslim or some Jewish people; more people became vegetarian... but it is still a question that most people don't ask. If you are invited and are vegetarian or have a serious allergic reaction to a food ingredient, is is OK to actually tell your hosts about it. You might put them outside of their comfort zone but they will accomodate (and tell their friends how much of an effort it was to accomodate you! But they will be very proud!)

Having lived (and cooked) in the US for many years, this is something that comes naturally to me now... However, beyond the obvious religous-allergic-medical restrictions, the main reason I ask is to make sure that our guests will enjoy the dinning experience as much as they should. Having witnessed rather (very) awkward situations where the dish I serve is obviously not our guest's favorite, asking prior to hosting helps avoid such situations... I also ask because when people tell me that "they eat everything", the "everything" I have in mind is definitively not the "everything" our guests eat by...
No doubt about it, culturally-eating, we all come from different backgrounds.... When Americans tell me that "they eat everything", I have come to narrow it down to poultry, beef, shrimp, and fish in fillet. I generally have to ask back whether they eat pork, lamb, veal, duck or seafood... I just never ask about rabbit.... When Asian friends of ours come and tell me "we eat everything", I know that I have a little bit more choices... but I do have to ask whether they eat seafood (beyond shrimp) and rabbit. I also know that most of them don't care much for strongly-flavored cheese. When French friends come over, I know that my options are almost unlimited. If our friends live in France and are just visiting, I try to introduce them to American food I have come to love and that are hard to find in France to broaden their culinary horizon: wild rice, sweet potatoes, parnsnips, blue corn chips, corn on the cob, corn bread, cranberries, etc. If our French friends live in the US, then the options are unlimited except for snails which, despite cultural clichés, not all French people enjoy (my mother does not like them for instance; our children LOVE them)...If we are hosting a big party for my husband's lab for instance, I make a mix of everything so that everybody has a few safe options to choose from as well as new dishes to try to expand their culinary horizon. Lapin à la moutarde, anyone? Bon Appétit!


  • 1 rabbit cut in small pieces 
  • Shallots (the more, the better) - cut in 4-6 pieces each.
  • Bay leaves (1 or 2) or/and Fresh thyme 
  • 1 cup (250ml) White wine 
  • Salt, pepper 
  • 2 tbs Dijon mustard 
  • Olive oil 
  • White All purpose flour
  • Parsley (for garnish)

  • In a large pot (I use a cast iron pot with lid), heat some olive oil
  • Coat the rabbit pieces in white flour and brown in the hot olive oil. Once brown, take the meat out of the pot.
  • Pour some white wine and scratch the bottom of the pot.
  • Add the mustard and stirr well; season with salt and pepper to taste.
  • Add the shallots, bay leaves and thyme and saute for a few minutes
  • Add the meat back, lower the temperature and cook for one hour, stirring occasionnally
  • Serve with pasta or French green beans with parsley.

My Personal Comments
  • I ask for the rabbit to be cut in smaller pieces than the regular 6 pieces.