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We just returned from a fabulously French holiday season with my in-laws. We spent a week in Pau, a city in Southwestern France bordering the Pyrenees mountains, and then a week at the family house in Dordogne. We relished the seclusion of no internet access or mobile reception while in the country, which explains in large part our short hiatus from regular posting.

The holidays were filled with French firsts for me. It seems no matter how long I live here in France, there is always something new to learn from my belle-mère or even more so from my belle-grandmère. I have accumulated a stack of over 20 recipes which I’ll be trying out over the next few weeks.

For now, I have one special recipe to share with you. This one is passed down from my belle-mère but did not originate in her family archives. Rather, this is a family rendition of a recipe from Alain Ducasse, one of the most accomplished chefs in France (he holds an unparalleled three Michelin Stars in three cities).

The recipe is called “Noisettes de lapereau sauce cacao” which means “Baby rabbit in a chocolate sauce”. My husband and I are chocolate fanatics, but I can’t bring myself to eat or even buy a baby rabbit (for eating purposes), so I’m substituting the rabbit for pork. I’ve come quite a long way in terms of French cuisine. I now habitually eat cheese between my main course and dessert. My desserts mainly consist of fruit or dark chocolate. I even made a foie gras from scratch this Christmas (video to come). Yet eating a baby rabbit, well, I just haven’t gotten to that point yet and I’m not sure I ever will. Nevertheless, this recipe (substitute noted) is delicious!

It calls for navette (turnips), pomme de terres (potatoes), Granny Smith apples, an egg and dark chocolate powder. A strange mix at first glance, but remarkable once all together. I’m making it for dinner tonight and I’ll let you know how it turns out!

Until then, I’ll leave you with the recipe and all my very best wishes for this new beginning in 2012!!!

Noisettes de lapereau (or pork or chicken or lamp) sauce cacao

Pair this meal with a good dry Loire Valley white – especially a Sauvignon Blanc such as Sancerre or Pouilly Fumé. Or to bring out the chocolate a Grave from Bordeaux or a Médoc.

Ingredients (serves 4):

  • 3 baby rabbit thighs (or substitute)
  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 Granny Smith apples
  • 2 turnips
  • 2 large potatoes
  • 1 egg
  • 50 g (1/4 cup) dark chocolate powder
  • 25 cl (8.45 fl oz) water
  • 80 g (2/3 cup) sugar
  • 10 cl (3.40 fl oz) thick cream/ sour cream
  • Salt & Pepper

Directions:

  • Peel and grates the apples, the potatoes and the turnips.
  • Mix all together and add in the egg. Salt the mixture to taste.
  • Make 4 round patties measuring about 2-3 cm thick each. (Like hash browns.)
  • In a non-stick pan, add one tablespoon olive oil and sauté the patties for 2 or 3 minutes on high heat.
  • Once sautéed, put in the oven for 7-8 minutes at 180°C (350°F).
  • In a pot, add the water, the chocolate powder and the sugar. Bring to a boil.
  • Add the cream and let the sauce reduce; continue to stir until you have a homogenous color and creamy texture.
  • In the pan used to sauté the veggie mix, add 2 tablespoons olive oil, pan fry your meat. (If rabbit 2-3 minutes. If pork or chicken until there is no pink.) Add salt and pepper to meat as you cook it.
  • If rabbit, cover and let it simmer on medium heat for 5 minutes.
  • Remove meat from heat and cut the meat into pieces.
  • When veggies are browned, remove from oven and serve.
  • Serve the meat covered in the sauce. Drizzle the left over sauce over the plates for decoration.

Bon appétit!

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