2 heads of garlic
1 Tbsp olive oil
1 1/2 pounds mixed mushrooms
4 Tbsp butter
3 large shallots, chopped
1 cup sherry or white wine
1-2 cups mushroom soaking water
3 cups chicken stock
1 Tbsp fresh thyme, or 2 teaspoons dried
1 large parsnip, peeled and chopped into large pieces
2 Tbsp chopped fresh parsley
Soak the dried porcini mushrooms in 2 cups hot water.
Cut the rabbit into serving pieces and salt well. Let sit at room temperature for 30 minutes. Use all of the rabbit in this dish – you can fish out the ribs and other parts that have little or no meat on them later; they will add vital flavor to your stew.
Preheat the oven to 375°F. Slice the top third off the heads of garlic and drizzle the olive oil over them. Wrap the heads loosely in foil and bake for 45 minutes to an hour, or until cloves are soft and brown. Set aside to cool.
Chop off the tough ends of the mushroom stems and either discard or save for stock. Roughly chop or slice the mushrooms and set aside. Dice the rehydrated porcini. Pour the porcini soaking water though a paper towel into another bowl. Reserve the liquid.
Heat a thick-bottomed large pot on high heat for 1 minute. Add the mushrooms and shake the pot. Stirring continuously, dry sauté the mushrooms until they release their water. Turn the heat down to medium-high. Use a wooden spoon to scrape up any mushroom bits off the bottom of the pan. Salt the mushrooms lightly. When the mushroom liquid is mostly gone, remove them to a bowl.
Add the butter to the pot. When the butter melts, turn the heat down to medium. Pat the rabbit pieces dry and place in the pan. Work in batches if you need to, do not crowd the pan. Brown the pieces well on all sides. Remove the rabbit pieces from the pot and set aside.
Increase the the heat to medium-high and add the shallots to the pot. Sauté until the shallots are nicely wilted, about 3 minutes. Stir from time to time. Sprinkle salt over everything.
While the shallots are cooking, squeeze the roasted garlic into the mushroom soaking water you have strained, then whisk it together.
Add the sherry or white wine to the shallots in the pot. Use a wooden spoon to scrape off any browned bits on the bottom of the pot. Let the sherry boil down by half. Add the mushroom-roasted garlic mixture and the stock and stir to combine. Add the thyme, all the mushrooms, the rabbit and the parsnips and bring everything to a bare simmer.
Simmer gently for 90 minutes. You want the meat to be close to falling off the bone. If you want, you can fish out all the rabbit pieces and pull the meat off the bone – it makes the dish less attractive, but it will be easier to eat. Taste for salt right before you serve and add if needed. Stir in the parsley.
Serve with a crusty loaf of bread, a green salad and either a hearty white wine, a dry rose or a light red wine.