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Adjust Servings:
8 oz dried prunes
8 oz hot water
3 Tbsp flour
1/2 tsp of each salt and pepper
2 1/2 lbs whole rabbit skinless
2 Tbsp butter
2 Tbsp olive oil
4 oz bacon high quality, thick cut
2 small yellow onion coarsely chopped
2 medium carrots coarsely sliced
1 leek peeled and coarsely sliced
500 ml Belgian beer I used Leffe Brune which is tasty
1 Tbsp apple cider vinegar
4 large sprigs fresh thyme
2 bay leaves
2 cloves
2 cloves garlic diced or pressed

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Belgium: Rabbit Carbonnade

Rabbit Braised in Belgian Ale with Bacon and Prunes





How do you decide what to make for some of your closest friend’s last supper in D.C.?  I know I can’t compete with Rose’s – their favorite restaurant – and they’ve already visited 9 of the countries on this culinary journey (second only to Courtney and my mom).  Luckily, Holly gave me some inspiration when she mentioned she’d packed some Belgian beers in her suitcase that she wanted to bring over for a tasting – the last remaining items in their fridge.  It would be fine if we ordered pizza, she said – but she should know me better than that.

Belgium, I thought, I can work with that.  However, Belgium did prove a bit of a challenge.  While moules frites is perhaps the most famous Belgian dish, I’d just had them the week prior – and homemade fries really aren’t my thing; Jo + deep fryer usually ends in a scar.  A little research found that beer braised rabbit is a very common dish, and Belga’s menu verified that – listing it in a special section of the menu entitled “100% Belgian.”

The second challenge was that rabbit is fairly hard to find.  I planned to get the recipe started a night in advance. Unfortunately, both Eastern Market and Union Market – the only two places nearby I knew would sell rabbit – are closed on Mondays.  After a bit more research, I called ahead to Wagshal’s and Courtney – being the sport he is – drove across town to pick up our little rabbit friend.

Turns out wascally wabbits come at a hefty price!

The third issue – turns out braising a rabbit isn’t the best strategy to cool down your house when it’s 95 degrees outside and your air conditioner is broken.  I texted Holly and Jason to give them a heads up not to wear many clothes -perhaps a strange request to get from your hostess, but one that worked out since more their clothes were packed anyway.

In the end, the rabbit turned out delicious and the fan kept us plenty cool.  We made it through the seven Belgian beers – and then some – and ended the night with a bar of Belgian dark chocolate.

One of the hardest things about living in D.C. is its transience.  In 24 hours, I’ve had to say good bye to three sets of friends who are leaving. Holly & Jason have been some of our dearest friends over the past 7 years, and we will certainly miss having them to call when we’ve made too much supper, have a new beer to share, or have locked ourselves out of the house again.  That said, they will be traveling to 17 international cities between August and December, and I trust they will return with some valuable insight for my culinary journey.



Place the prunes in a large mixing bowl, pour over the hot water and leave to soak for at least 1 hour. This can be done while the rabbit is cooking.


If the rabbit has not been cut yet, cut it like this. You will use all pieces.


Season half the flour with salt and pepper and use to coat the rabbit pieces on all sides, shaking off any excess. Heat the butter and oil in a large saucepan, add the rabbit pieces and brown on both sides. You may have to do this in batches. Remove the rabbit pieces and set aside.


Add the bacon to the pan and fry for about 5 minutes. Remove from pan, crumble and chop.


Add the onions, leek and carrots to the same pan and cook for 7 minutes, stirring from time to time.


Return the rabbit pieces to the pan, sprinkle the remaining flour over the meat and vegetables and cook for 3 to 4 minutes, turning the meat from time to time. Gradually add the beer, allowing the sauce to thicken slightly between each addition then add the vinegar, garlic, thyme, bay leaves, and clove. Stir back in the crumbled bacon. Mix well, reduce the heat, cover and simmer, covered, for 1 hour, stirring from time to time.


Add the prunes, together with the water they were soaking in, bring to the boil then reduce the heat, cover and simmer for a further 45 minutes until the meat is very tender. Serve hot with a nice crusty bread.


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