2 rabbits, each cut into 6 to 8 pieces
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
230g pancetta (unsmoked bacon), cut into 1/2 cm thick strips
1 1/2 cups crème fraîche
3/4 cup Dijon mustard
2 Tbsp roughly chopped fresh thyme
2 Tbsp roughly chopped fresh sage
2 tsp black or yellow mustard seeds, crushed
8 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
4 bay leaves
Season rabbit generously with salt and pepper and place in a large bowl along with remaining ingredients. Mix together with your hands until rabbit pieces are coated. Cover bowl with plastic wrap and let marinate at room temperature for at least 1 hour or overnight in the refrigerator.
If rabbit has been chilled, allow it to come to room temperature. Heat oven to 200°C and arrange a rack in the middle of oven. Divide rabbit in a single layer between 2 shallow roasting pans and top with any of the remaining marinade. Roast the rabbit, turning once and basting with pan juices occasionally, until the juices have reduced and rabbit is cooked through, about an hour.
Set oven to broil and cook until golden brown, about 5 minutes more. Serve rabbit with pan juices.
Tip: Try a rich, low-tannin red, such as the vibrant Justification 2007 from Justin Vineyards in California's Paso Robles region; it pairs well with the dish's spicy notes. — David Rosengarten
Photo Credits: Todd Coleman