THIS DELICIOUS, rustic Italian and Niçoise specialty, classically made with a whole young pig stuffed with herbs, vegetables, and offal, can be found at festivals and green markets throughout the land. But I was a lucky man when, as part of the three-day bash that celebrated Craig Claiborne’s seventieth birthday, I was served the best porchetta I ever tried, cooked by Alain Ducasse on the French Riviera. At Daniel, we play on the same classic dish, a roasted meat and vegetable roulade, but choose to make it with rabbit for its delicious lean meat, served with tender baby vegetables from one of our favorite purveyors, farmer Lee Jones of Chef’s Garden in Huron, Ohio.
“Blending porkrabbit, and vegetables, we revisit the porchetta of the Riviera.”
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For the Carrot Oil
Preheat the oven to 190°F. Using a mandoline, slice the carrots as thinly as possible and arrange in a single layer on an aluminum foil–lined baking sheet. Bake for 2½ hours, or until dry and crisp. Cool, then transfer to a blender or spice grinder and pulse into a powder. Shake the powder through a fine-meshed sieve into a bowl and stir in the oil. Reserve, chilled.
For the Rabbit Porchetta
On a large cutting board, lay the rabbit on its back. From inside the belly cavity, remove the kidneys and liver and pull away and discard the fat surrounding them; dice and reserve them for stuffing. Trim and reserve the tenderloins from under the rack for stuffing.
With a butcher’s knife, trim away the shoulders (forelegs) by cutting flush up against the neck bone, then bend the foreleg forward to pop the bone from the joint. Carve through the joint toward the ribs to completely remove. Remove the legs by carving inward to separate the thigh from the tailbone, pop the bone from the joint, and then carve through the joint toward the tailbone to completely remove it. Debone the forelegs and legs, reserving the bones for jus. Dice the tenderloins, forelegs, and legs; reserve 11¼ ounces for grinding. Use the remaining trim for the jus.
Lay the saddle on its back and use a butcher’s knife to carve off the belly flaps and loins, keeping them attached to each other by tracing along the rib cage and then backbone (from front to back). Separate the loins.
Chop all bones and meat trim into rough 1-inch pieces, rinse, dry, and reserve for the rabbit jus.
Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil and place a bowl of ice water on the side. Boil the carrots, asparagus, and fava beans in separate batches until tender, 2 to 4 minutes each, depending on their size. Allow the water to come back to a rapid boil between batches. Transfer each batch to the ice water to chill. Drain the vegetables and pat them dry.
In a medium bowl, combine the diced kidney, liver, tenderloin, shoulder, and leg meat, tomato confit, fatback, bacon, diced foie gras, wine, thyme, rosemary, savory, and sage. Heat 1 tablespoon of the oil in a small sauté pan over medium-low heat, add the garlic, and stir until cooked through. Transfer to the bowl with the meat, along with the egg, milk, and breadcrumbs, and stir to combine.
Weigh the mixture and measure the seasoning according to the seasoning ratio listed in the ingredients. Mix the seasoning into the meat and chill thoroughly. Pass the mixture through a meat grinder fit with a coarse plate into a bowl. Fold in the fava beans by hand and keep chilled.
Season the foie gras batons on all sides with salt and pepper. Freeze for 15 minutes to deeply chill. Heat a medium sauté pan over high heat. Add the foie gras batons and sear on each side until golden brown, about 2 minutes total, and chill immediately.
Lay the loins on a cutting board so that the belly flaps are spread out, facing inside up. Lightly sprinkle the loins and their belly flaps with salt and pepper.
Lightly pound the belly flaps with a flat meat tenderizer and, with a paring knife, lightly score them with a crosshatch pattern. Divide the ground meat onto the belly flaps and spread into flat layers. Line parallel rows of one of each of the seared foie gras, carrot, bacon, and chorizo batons along with 2 asparagus (tip to end) on top of each belly flap and press to nestle them into the ground meat. Roll the loins over the belly flaps, forming a log.
Rub two 12-inch sheets of aluminum foil with the remaining tablespoon of canola oil on one side. Wrap each of the logs in the foil, with the oiled side touching the meat, and twist the ends to secure into a tight log. Chill for at least 30 minutes.
Preheat the oven to 210°F. In a large sauté pan over high heat, sear all sides of the foil-wrapped logs for about 2 minutes. Transfer to a baking sheet fitted with a rack and roast until the internal temperature reaches 137°F; begin checking after 15 minutes. Rest at room temperature for 10 minutes, then chill the logs in the refrigerator overnight. When ready to serve, remove the foil and slice each log into 6 pieces.
For the Orleans Mustard Cream
Up to 1 hour in advance, whip the heavy cream to stiff peaks. With a rubber spatula, fold in the mustard and season with pepper; reserve, chilled.
For the Rabbit Jus Vinaigrette
In a small bowl, whisk the jus, mustard, and vinegar to combine. Stream in the oil while whisking and season with salt and pepper. Transfer to a small piping bag and reserve at room temperature.
For the Baby Vegetable Salad
Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil and set a bowl of ice water on the side. In separate batches, boil the spring onions, 6 purple carrots, and 6 orange carrots until tender; chill in the ice water and pat dry. Halve the spring onions and carrots lengthwise. With a mandoline, thinly shave the remaining 2 carrots and the baby beets into a bowl of ice water.
Transfer the baby vegetable salad ingredients with the baby turnip leaves, baby turnips, micro carrot tops, and frisée to a small bowl and toss with the mustard vinaigrette; season with salt and pepper.
For each serving, dip a pastry brush into the carrot oil and paint a line through the center of a chilled appetizer plate. Place 2 slices of porchetta on opposite sides of the plate and top each one with a small spoonful of mustard cream. Arrange 2 spring onion halves, 2 purple carrot halves, 2 orange carrot halves, a few pieces of frisée, 1 turnip leaf, 3 baby turnips, 3 slices shaved carrot, 3 slices shaved beet, and 2 micro carrot tops on the carrot oil. Pipe 6 dots of tarragon mustard and rabbit jus vinaigrette onto opposite sides of the plate and top each mustard dot with a tarragon leaf.