Roasting a majestic stuffed turkey is a Christmas Day classic in France, but not everyone is looking to cook a whole bird in their oven… This stuffed Rabbit Saddle with chestnuts and mushrooms offers a lighter and less-traditional option for your dinner. But still, the key components remain: a lean white meat that is tender and juicy, and the classic French-style stuffing made of creamy chestnuts and earthy mushrooms.
This Stuffed Rabbit Saddle with Chestnut and Mushrooms is roasted until perfectly golden and juicy inside, while the vegetable stuffing is so tender and flavorful. This festive recipe yields a super comforting feast that is enough for four people.
A Noble Piece of Meat
Deeply anchored into French Gastronomy, rabbit saddle is called a “noble piece of meat”, which means it is a prime piece, sought after for its extreme tenderness and easy versatility. Rabbit saddle can be braised, roasted, sliced, minced … or most commonly stuffed, like in this delicious recipe.
Bone-in or Bone-out.
The saddle is made up of the ribs and spine, with a loin or fillet on either side. If you are up for the challenge, buy a whole rabbit or a bone-in saddle and follow this video to see how to debone a rabbit and separate the saddle.
For this recipe, I’ve took on the challenge of deboning the rabbit myself (it was my first time!). It was a little time consuming and requires some precise knife technique as well as sharp knives. It was a tad overwhelming at first, but ended up being not difficult, and well worth the effort !
If you’re in a hurry, buy a deboned rabbit saddle (it is pretty common to find) or ask your butcher to debone it for you.
An average size rabbit saddle is 350 to 400 grams, which, once stuffed, will serve 4 adults. If you are feeding more people, prepare more saddles accordingly.
Stuffed Rabbit Saddle with Mushrooms and ChestnutsPrint This
For the stuffed rabbit saddle:
1 rabbit saddle (350-400gr)
400g chestnuts, peeled and cooked
400g nutty bread (or any rustic loaf of your choosing)
4 garlic cloves
400g white mushrooms
3 sprigs of coriander
3 sprigs of parsley
3 sage leaves
Pepper (freshly cracked)
For the potatoes:
500g (1lb) small white-skinned potatoes, scrubbed
1 tbsp herbes de Provences
3 cloves garlic, minced
¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil
Salt (freshly cracked)
Preheat your oven to 400F. Place rack in the lowest position of the oven. Take out the rabbit meat from the fridge, lay it on paper towels and and let it come up to room temperature ( it ensures that it will cook more evenly).
Step 1 – Roughly chop 300g of the chestnuts and 300g of the mushrooms (keep aside 100g of whole chestnuts and 100g of whole mushrooms). Finely chop 2 garlic cloves (keep aside 2 whole garlic cloves in their skins). Finely chop the shallots, coriander, parsely and 1 sage leaf.
Step 2 – In a large frying pan, fry the minced garlic and shallots, with the butter, for 2 minutes (until transluscent). Add the chopped mushrooms, chesnuts, herbs and bread (crumbled roughly with your fingers). Season to your liking (salt and pepper), and mix roughly with a wooden spoon until all the ingredients come together in a crumbly stuffing mix. (If it looks too dry, add 1 or 2 tablespoons of water – the bread will absorb it quickly). Transfer the stuffing to a bowl and set aside (keep the frying pan on the stove – we will use it soon to quickly brown the rabbit, in step 5).
Step 3 – On a clean working surface, lay the rabbit saddle (back side down). Spread the stuffing on top and press it firmly (using your hands) into a tight log, right in the middle of the saddle. Roll the saddle and close it tightly with butcher’s twine. Slip the 2 remaining sage leaves between the twine.
Step 4 – For the potatoes, whole mushrooms (remaining 100g) whole chesnuts (remaining 100g) and 2 whole remaining garlic cloves – In a small bowl, whisk the herbs, garlic and oil together until blended. Put the potatoes, chesnuts and mushrooms in a large bowl and pour over the oil mix. Toss to coat and sprinkle with salt and pepper.
Step 5 – Gently place the rabbit saddle in the frying pan, on medium-high heat with a dollop of butter, and brown quickly (1-2 minutes on all 4 sides).
Step 6 – Gently transfer the rabbit saddle in a large, heavy baking dish (I used a Staub Oval Cocotte) and toss the potatoes, mushrooms and chestnuts all around it.
Cook for 45 minutes, lid on. After 45 minutes, gently toss the potatoes, mushrooms and chestnuts around (to make sure they’re evenly roasted) with a spatula. Spoon some juice from the bottom of the pan and pour it on the rabbit saddle. Put back in the oven for 15 minutes, lid off.
For serving, transfer the rabbit to a platter, cut into 8 slices and spread the potatoes, mushrooms and chestnuts all around.