Culinary Arts Project

Braising – Rabbit Ragout and Lamb Shank – Day 23


  • When buying a whole skinned rabbit in the older days, they included the head so you could tell that it wasn’t a cat. The regulations are better nowadays.
  • Score (brief cut “like a paper cut”) your lamb shank before searing – this gives more surface area to brown and enhances flavor.
  • Don’t puree (mash) your potatoes till your just ready to serve, mashed potatoes don’t keep or reheat well.

Today was a little better for me, but I was still exhausted by the end of the day. My teammate today was Jessica (from Colombia). We first had a demo on taking apart a rabbit, which involved over 20 steps. I was writing furiously, but it was still hard to remember it all. We tried to make sense of it and ended up with reasonable cuts, but it was a bit random to be honest.

Chef Jeff cuts into the easter rabbit
Chef Jeff cuts into the rabbit (or is that a cat?)
A cute little rack-of-rabbit, and a rosemary spiked kidney
A cute little rack-of-rabbit, and a rosemary spiked kidney

“Mixed” cooking involves a “dry” form of cooking and then a “wet” form. We’ve used this technique quite a bit now: Sear the meat (“dry”), then braise in the oven (“wet”), reduce the sauce, and serve over some form of garniture. This is what we did with the rabbit. It was called Rabbit Ragout. A “ragout” is technically a stew (where meat is fully submerged in liquid), but we were braising (where the meat is partially submerged in liquid). We seared and braised the rabbit leg, but really just seared and butter basted some of the smaller bits. A cool little extra was the kidney. Chef Jeff spiked the kidney with a sprig of rosemary and seared it. The garniture was pommes purée, carrots jardinière (sticks) with green beans cut to 5cms and bacon lardons. Throughout the preparation, Jessica kept calling it chicken…and our rabbit did end up tasting much like….well…chicken.

Jessica saucing the lamb shank
Jessica saucing the lamb shank
Rabbit Ragout
Rabbit Ragout

Our other dish was braised lamb shank…. You got it by now: sear, braise, reduce and serve with a garniture. The leg was a oddly shaped to sear all around but we got it done. Chef Jeff told us some chef’s actually toss the whole thing in oil and do a flash deep fry, which browns all the parts – but at $20 of oil to fill a fryer, this becomes expensive. The lamb’s garniture was couscous. Couscous is basically semonlina flour+water which is then grated to form grains. It’s technically a pasta. While a balance to the strong lamb shank and sauce flavours, I thought the couscous was a bit bland. The lamb shank and juice was delicious, but I’m kinda lambed out (see The Lamb Lies Down On Broadway post). Braising and stewing are used to cook the tougher cuts of meat – the parts that the animal uses for “locomotion” (i.e. legs, shoulders, rump). The parts that the animal uses for “posture” tend to be much more tender and you don’t need a long cooking time to “tenderize” them.

Tomorrow's lamb tongues defrosting
Tomorrow’s lamb tongues defrosting

I don’t think many of us are going to enjoy tomorrow. We’re doing organ meats. We poached sweatbreads today, in advance of tomorrow, and there was a full container of tongues defrosting in the sink. Ugggh.

We have math homework!!!! A small part of the curriculum deals with food costing, scaling, profitability etc… So we’re learning terms like As Purchased Weight, Edible Portion Weight, etc… There’s no calculus involved so I think I’ll be okay with the math end of things. A baguette from the bakery, and off to calculate Usable Yield Percentages.

ps: Thanks all for the tips on the pearl onions, I’m definitely going to try them next time….which I can’t image will be too far away.

1 reply on “Braising – Rabbit Ragout and Lamb Shank – Day 23”

Oh lucky you. I love sweetbreads, beef and veal tongue.
Tripe is also delicious when cooked properly.
But they are much more work. Hope you get to do foie gras too!

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