Rabbit, Bacon and Spring Vegetable Bouchées

With the first asparagus, ramps and wild mushrooms available at the market, spring has definitely arrived! I am combining the first vegetables of the season with rabbit and bacon to create a light, bottomless bouchée. (In contract, some of you may remember the wintry Wild Boar Bouchées.)

Ramps may be native to North America, but their cousin, wild garlic or bear’s garlic (cheremsha in Russian), is found throughout Europe, all the way through the Caucasus. Due to their relatively short season — as little as one week long in mountainous areas — they’re often pickled.

The recipe may seem long, but each preparation is in fact very quick. Try to follow the same sequence as below to optimize your time. And don’t forget to check the Lazy Boris Corner at the bottom of this post!

Pickled ramps
Yields 4 servings (about 1 cup)

7 oz white wine
1/2 oz white wine vinegar
1 clove
1 juniper berry
2 peppercorns
1/8 tsp caraway seeds
1/8 tsp mustard seeds
1/8 tsp garam masala
1/2 bay leaf
1/4 oz salt
3/4 oz sugar
16 cleaned ramps, bulbs only

  • Place the white wine, vinegar, clove, juniper berry, peppercorns, caraway seeds, mustard seeds, garam masala, bay leaf, salt and sugar into a saucepan, cover with a lid, bring to a boil and simmer for 3 minutes. Let rest for 15 minutes.
  • Pass the pickling liquid through a chinois, then add the ramps. Transfer to a small jar or a sous-vide pouch, let cool and refrigerate for at least 2 days.

Sous-vide rabbit
Yields 4 servings

14 oz boneless rabbit loin
salt
black pepper, ground
3 thyme sprigs
1 oz butter, sliced

  • Season the rabbit with salt and pepper on both sides, then place into a sous-vide pouch with the thyme and butter. Cook in a 146 F water bath for 12 hours. Reserve.

Asparagus shavings
Yields 4 servings

4 large asparagus without spears
salt
1 tsp top-quality olive oil

  • Using a vegetable peeler, cut asparagus shavings lengthwise. Transfer to a bowl, toss with salt and olive oil, and reserve.

Puff pastry rings
Yields 4 servings

8 oz puff pastry
1/2 oz butter
egg wash (1 egg yolk mixed with 1 oz water)

  • Roll the puff pastry to a 6″ x 12″ rectangle, about 1/8″ thick. Cut four 1.5″ x 12″ strips. Rub the butter on the outside of four 3.5″ diameter, 1.5″ tall ring molds. Place a strip of puff pastry around each of them, sealing the edges with egg wash. Place on a sheet tray lined with parchment paper, brush the pastry with more egg wash, and bake in a 425 F oven for about 15 minutes, until golden brown. Let cool.
  • Delicately remove the puff pastry rings from their molds, using the tip of a knife if necessary. Reserve.

Asparagus spears
Yields 4 servings

16 asparagus spears
1/2 oz butter
1/2 oz water
salt

  • Place the asparagus spears in a small saucepan with the butter and water, season with salt, cover with a lid and cook over low heat until almost soft but still slightly crunchy. Remove from heat and reserve.

Sautéed mushrooms
Yields 4 servings

1 oz butter
1 1/2 oz pink oyster mushrooms, cut into 16 pieces
salt
piment d’espelette

  • Melt the butter in a small saucepan over medium heat. Add the mushrooms, season with salt and piment d’espelette, and cook until just soft. Remove from heat and reserve.

Smitane sauce
Yields 4 servings

1/2 oz butter
1 oz onion, thinly sliced
1/4 garlic clove, thinly sliced
1 1/2 oz white wine
3 oz sour cream

  • Melt the butter in a small saucepan over medium heat, and sweat the onion and garlic until soft. Add the white wine, and reduce to about 1/3 over high heat. Stir in the sour cream, and let rest for 15 minutes.
  • Process in a blender until smooth, pass through a chinois and reserve.

Assembly
Yields 4 servings

sous-vide rabbit
4 slices bacon
puff pastry rings
sautéed mushrooms
asparagus spears
16 pickled ramps
asparagus shavings
1 handful micro red mustard
smitane sauce

  • Take the rabbit out of the sous-vide pouch, cut into 4 pieces, and wrap a slice of bacon around each piece, with a generous overlap. Sauté in a hot pan until the bacon is brown and crispy on all sides. Chop each piece into 4 smaller pieces.
  • In each pastry ring, arrange 4 small pieces of rabbit, and top with 4 pieces of mushrooms and 4 asparagus spears. At this point, you can reheat the bouchées in a 350 F oven for a couple minutes if you like. This is not meant to be a hot dish but more like something slightly warmer than room temperature.
  • Add the asparagus shavings and micro red mustard in the center, and serve with warm smitane sauce on the side.

The Lazy Boris Corner

Here are a few compromises that will still produce a great recipe:

  • You can buy very good pickled ramps here.
  • You don’t have to cook the rabbit sous-vide: cut the loin into 4 pieces, wrap each piece into a slice of bacon, sear in a hot pan, then cook in a 350 F oven until done. You will loose the divine texture of sous-vide rabbit, but the result will still be good.
  • If you have a good blender, you don’t really need to pass the smitane sauce through a chinois.
  • The micro red mustard can be replaced by other kinds of microgreens, or omitted altogether.
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