Monday, February 14, 2011

Fennel Challenge: Bacon Wrapped Braised Rabbit with Fennel

Just the first challenge of Charcutepalooza and I'm finding myself inspired. Inspired to take chances with cooking. It also inspired me to take on my own challenge. Each month I will take a new ingredient - one I'm not familiar with but is readily available at our farmers' market or in our garden (yes, I'm growing things that I've never even tasted before - such as salsify) and create one dish a week with it.  They will be completely my own. I will take inspiration from other places - be it online or in cookbooks - but they will not be the same. Some may be spectacular and some might be total flops. But I will post them here. I will take chances and no longer be intimidated by foods I'm not familiar with.

This month I chose Fennel - by accident really. It had always intimidated me - which makes the challenge that much more interesting. To be honest, I had only eaten Fennel twice and both times it was marinated (great recipe by my friend Leslie that I would love to get from her sometime).  While last week's recipe included the bacon I had cured, I wanted something that incorporated more bacon! We also had a fresh rabbit in the fridge waiting to be eaten.

So I set out to combine fennel, bacon and rabbit. In my opinion, the dish was simply ok. Nothing spectacular. Tom, however, practically licked his plate clean. I guess, for me, the problem was the bacon <gasp>. I've never been one to like to eat animal fat. I always trim it off of meat. I only like my bacon cooked until extra crispy. So with this dish, the bacon is not crispy, so I didn't really get to enjoy it as fully as someone that likes to "chew the fat" so to speak. However, if you like your bacon anyway you can get it, then you may actually enjoy this dish, like Tom did. I do have to say that the rabbit came out great and the fennel added a subtle touch of acidity. The bacon fat did help it quite a bit, since it is such a lean meat. We served this recipe with mashed sweet potatoes and sauteed Swiss Chard with garlic.


1 dressed rabbit - 3 to 3 1/2 lbs
1 c flour
1 Tbs Marjoram
1 Tbs Garlic Salt
1 tsp fresh ground black pepper
3 Tbs oil (we used bacon fat)
12 slices of bacon
2 fennel bulbs, thinly sliced
1 Tbs Herbs de Provence
1 c chicken stock
1 c white wine

1. Preheat oven to 350 deg. F. Butcher the rabbit into 6 pieces.
2. Add oil to a dutch oven over medium heat. Combine the flour, marjoram, garlic salt and pepper. Dredge rabbit pieces in flour mixture and sear in dutch oven, placing done pieces on a paper towel lined plate until all pieces are seared.
3. Place as many pieces of rabbit on the bottom of dutch oven as possible. Cover each piece with 2 slices of bacon and then half the sliced fennel. Repeat with second layer of rabbit.
4. Sprinkle Herbs de Provence over fennel and then pour over chicken broth and wine. Cover and place in oven. Cook for 1 hr 30 min.
5. Let rest for 5 min. then serve.


  1. Very nice. I had my first fennel last year, I too picked it up at the farmers market. I hope to grow my own this season. Your bacon looks like it turned out first time I created a mess!

  2. Love the combination of rabbit and pork. Thanks for the great post.

  3. PETALUMA on the milk can caught my eye! I'm so happy to stumble upon your blog. I am just across the pond and I grow produce in my small garden as well.

    What a beautiful post!

  4. what a great post. Thanks so much for sharing. I'm an Urban Homesteader in Sacramento and I'm currently going a year without buying and new clothes - used, vintage, and hand-made are cool - just nothing from a big store with original tags.
    I love this project. My husband and I will have to start this when we get into our new house.

  5. I LOOOOOVE fennel, and it's so easy to grow around here! I just bought a bunch of baby fennel bulbs at the farmer's market to try a great orange and star anise braised fennel recipe I found online. Our backyard fennel is all overgrown (last year's seed) or not bulbing yet (this year's volunteers).

  6. Mmmm. We're venturing into rabbits this year. I may have to try this!

  7. I love fennel - been eating it since I was a kid.

    I think you may like the bacon more if you cooked/rendered the fat out first. THat way the bacon would get crispy and you could sear the rabbit pieces in the bacon fat. Just an idea that came to mind while reading your post.

  8. @viveksurti, yes, that's what we do pretty much every time we have rabbit. I wanted to try something different this time though.