jacques pepin's braised rabbit stew and saddle steak the day after

1 cup dried morels
about 1.5 ounces
2 cups hot water
1 whole rabbit
about 3 pounds, cleaned and skinned
1 tsp herbes de Provence
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp black pepper
1 tbsp unsalted butter
1 tbsp olive oil
equal to 3 teaspoons
16 whole pearl onions
about 12 ounces
2 tbsp shallots
1 tbsp flour
1/3 cup white wine
fruity and dry such as Albarino
2 tsp garlic
about 3 cloves, chopped
1/4 tsp salt
morel liquid
1 tbsp unsalted butter
1 tbsp olive oil
equal to 3 teaspoons
1 slice white bread
about .75 ounce
2 tsp horseradish
fresh, diced, or 1 tablespoon bottled
2 tsp olive oil
1 tbsp dijon mustard
Brace yourself... even though Jacques Pepin (JP) makes it look really easy, procuring and cooking this set of recipes is really a small project. Although we had to go to research morel mushroom prices and go to different stores to get the rabbit, horseradish, and morels, this small project was well worth the effort.

The original Jacques Pepin recipe yields 4 servings of stew and saddle steak. I rewrote the recipe since we decided to spread the meals out over a few days since we are just a household of 2.

Recipe adapted from JP's Essential Pepin. Rabbit from our local butcher, Olivier.
Rinse the morels for a few seconds under running water. Place them in a large measuring cup and pour the hot water over them. Set a large ramekin or equivalent on top of the morels to push them down into the water. Soak for 30 minutes, then lift the morels from the bowl. Gently squeeze excess liquid back into the bowl, then slice each morel lengthwise in half. Rinse and remove any dirt from the center; keep an eye out for any bugs. Store the morels in the ramekin. Reserve both the liquid and morels. You should have 1.5-1.75 cups of liquid.
Butcher the rabbit into 8 pieces. Consider referencing the Essential Pepin DVD for this procedure, or ask your butcher to break it up for you. Start by cutting off the back legs. Split each leg in half at the joint. Remove the front legs, then the front part of the body that contains the rib cage. After you cut the front portion in half, you'll be left with 8 pieces, plus the saddle/back. Reserve the saddle in the fridge for the next day. Season the rest of the rabbit pieces with the herbes de Provence, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and the pepper.
Warm 1 tablespoon of olive oil and the butter in the dutch oven or equivalent over medium-high heat. Sauté the pearl onions for about 10 minutes until they are browned. Remove the onions and reserve. Keep the drippings in the pot.
In the same pot, brown the 8 rabbit pieces in a single layer for about 10 minutes.
Add the shallots, sprinkle with flour, then mix gently. After about a minute, add the wine, garlic, and .25 teaspoon salt. Leaving the sediment behind, pour in the morel liquid and mix well. Bring the contents to a boil, then reduce heat to low. Simmer covered for a total of 45 minutes.
Add the pearl onions and morels to the stew. Simmer covered for an additional 15 minutes.
To serve the stew, divide it into bowls and top with parsley.
Prepare the saddle the next day. Preheat the oven to 425°F. Warm butter and olive oil in a stainless skillet. Brown the saddle for about 10 minutes.
Grind and combine the bread and horseradish in a magic bullet or equivalent. Toss with 2 teaspoons olive oil to moisten the mix. Avoid overmixing to keep the mixture light and fluffy.
With the saddle in the skillet, spread dijon mustard along the top and sides of the saddle. Pat the bread crumb mixture onto it.
Roast the saddle in the skillet for 20 minutes.
Rest the saddle for at least 10 minutes. Cut the saddle into 4 pieces and serve in the skillet.
source: Jacques Pepin
The liver is often included with a whole rabbit to denote the health of the animal. We ate this too. We simply sauteed it with butter and served it with crostini and cornichon while waiting for the stew.

We use a large glass measuring cup to reconstitute the morels. The glass can take the heat of the boiled water, and our large ramekin is just the right size to next in the measuring glass and weigh the mushrooms down. When it comes time to pour the morel liquid into stew, the spout on the measuring cup makes that easy and mess-free.