Rabbit4 800 gm farmed rabbits (see note)150 ml extra-virgin olive oil1 small onion, coarsely chopped2 carrots, coarsely chopped2 stalks celery heart, coarsely chopped2 cloves garlic200 gm unsalted butter500 gm small onions (cipollini, red pearl, red and golden shallots) 200 gm peeled and trimmed spring onions, blanched and refreshedto servemarjoram and thyme sprigsBuckwheat polenta150 gm unsalted butter2 golden shallots, finely chopped1 small clovegarlic, finely chopped250 gm buckwheat polenta1 litre (4 cups) chicken stock, boiling50 gm finely grated Reggiano100 ml pouring cream
For rabbit stock, heat 50ml olive oil in a large heavy-based saucepan over medium-high heat, add rabbit carcasses and cook for 10 minutes or until browned. Add onion, carrot, celery, garlic and 50gm butter, and cook for 2 minutes, add 4 litres of water, bring to the boil, reduce heat and simmer for 3 hours, skimming occasionally. Strain stock through a muslin-lined sieve, discard solids and return stock to a clean saucepan over medium heat. Bring to the boil and cook for 1 hour or until reduced to 1½ litres (6 cups). Whisk in 50gm butter.
Preheat oven to 160C. Heat 50ml olive oil in a large frying pan over medium heat, cook rabbit legs in batches for 10 minutes turning until golden, transfer to a roasting pan. Pour over reduced rabbit stock, cover with two layers of foil. Roast for 1½ hours, turning half way until tender. The liquid should simmer; if it comes to the boil, reduce oven temperature. Using a slotted spoon remove rabbit from sauce, cover with foil and keep warm. Place casserole over medium heat, bring to the boil and cook for 15 minutes or until sauce is reduced and syrupy, about 2 cups. Strain.
Meanwhile, increase oven to 180C. Combine small onions, remaining oil and butter in a roasting pan and season to taste. Roast onions for 30 minutes or until browned and tender, stirring occasionally. Keep warm.
For buckwheat polenta, heat 50gm butter in a heavy-based saucepan over low heat, add shallot and garlic and sauté for 5 minutes or until soft. Add polenta and stir to coat in onion mixture. Add 1 cup of chicken stock and cook for 25 minutes, adding more stock as liquid is absorbed and stirring occasionally until it reaches a porridge-like consistency. Add Reggiano, remaining butter and season to taste. Remove from heat, cover and stand for 15-20 minutes. Return to low heat, add cream and stir to combine. Cook for 2 minutes or until heated through. Keep warm.
To serve, add rabbit and all onions to sauce in casserole, turning to coat and cook for 5 minutes to heat through. Divide polenta among plates, top with rabbit, spoon over sauce and onions, scatter with herbs.
Note Rabbit is available from Vic's Premium Quality Meat and
select butchers. Ask your butcher to remove hind and front legs
(these are for the braise). Remove loins from saddle and reserve
for another use. Cut carcasses into pieces for the stock.