Raised in Calgary and now based in Toronto, Chef Sean MacDonald has made a name for himself with a healthy portion of industry accolades. The winner of the Canadian leg of the S.Pellegrino Young Chef 2016 competition, Sean shares his affinity for French cuisine, artful plating and Caesarstone surfaces, along with one of his favourite recipes.
Caesarstone is a game changer, not only in the appearance and design of their products but also in the overall durability and finish. From the new colour choices to the traditional and classic selections, they offer a surface that would fit perfectly with any style. Not only would Caesarstone be the first choice in my home, but I’d also recommend using their product in a commercial kitchen and restaurant.
The plating, colours, textures and shapes you can create with food drive my love of cooking further. I like to try to create art with every dish I make. Caesarstone products create the perfect frame for my dishes. From a solid colour to a textured concrete look (4044 Airy Concrete), it provides a great product to work on and highlights and intensifies the look of my dish.
BRAISED RABBIT WITH LABNEH, FAVA BEANS and TARRAGON
Well worth the 12-hour prep and 2-hour cooking time, this dish serves 6 and is a true feast for the senses.
LEAD WITH THE LABNEH
Combine 2 cups of yogurt, 1 tbsp. of olive oil, lemon zest and salt to taste in a bowl until mixed well. Strain the mixture through a cheese cloth for 12 hours, transfer it to a container and refrigerate. Reserve the strained off whey in a separate container.
Preheat the oven to 300° F. Place a large cast iron or sauté pan over medium high heat. Pour about 2 tablespoons of canola oil in the pan. Season 6 rabbit legs with salt and place them in the pan to sear. Flip and sear the other side after about 3 minutes, or once the meat is light brown and caramelized. Transfer the seared legs to a large pot. Add 2 halved, peeled onions to the pan and sear them flat side down until they’re very dark. Transfer the onions to the pot with the rabbit. Pour 2 cups of white wine into the pan to deglaze the cooked bits, and then pour the liquid from the pan into the pot.
Next, place 1 cup of small diced celery and 3 cloves of smashed garlic into the pot. Place 2 star anise, 1/8 tsp. of cumin seeds, 5 stems of parsley and 1/8 tsp. of fennel seeds in the center of a square cheese cloth. Bring the corners of the cloth together and tie them with string. Place the bundle into the pot and cover the contents with water. Put the lid on the pot and place it in the oven. Cook for 1 to 1.5 hours or until the meat pulls off the bone easily. Remove from the oven and let sit until the contents are just slightly warm.
GET HANDS ON
Using your hands, carefully pick the rabbit meat off the bone and place it in a bowl. Cover with some of the strained braising liquid to keep it moist. Put the rest of the liquid into a medium pot over medium high heat and start to reduce. Pour the strained off whey from the labneh into the pot as well. Reduce the mixture by 3/4. Next, strain the braising liquid from the meat, pour into the pot and reduce further until you’re left with about a cup of liquid. Mix 1 tsp. of corn starch with a splash of water to make a slurry in a small bowl, and pour into the simmering, reduced braising liquid. Let the mixture simmer for another 3 minutes, then season with salt and save until later.
OIL OF TARRAGON
Set up a food-safe container in an ice bath and place a mesh strainer lined with a coffee filter on top. Combine 1/4 cup of tarragon leaves, 1/4 cup of parsley leaves, 1 clove of garlic and 1 cup of canola oil in a blender and blend on high for about 3 minutes. Pour the contents through the coffee filter to strain off the oil, refrigerate and reserve for later.
PREPARE THE GARNISH
Place a medium pot filled with water on high heat and add a healthy sprinkle of salt. Once the water is boiling, add 2 cups of shucked fava beans. Let them blanch for 2-3 minutes. Transfer the beans to an ice bath to cool off for 5 minutes. Once the beans are cooled, cut a slit in the tip with a paring knife. Using two fingers, squeeze the bean out of the shell, making sure to keep it in one piece. Repeat this process until all the beans are cleaned. Using a mandolin, slice two baby zucchinis into thin strips. Cut the strips in half lengthwise. Place the zucchini strips and fava beans in a small bowl. Dress with salt and some freshly squeezed lemon juice.
THE BIG FINISH
Next, heat up the rabbit meat and braising liquid reduction in a pot. Season to taste with salt. Once the mixture is warm, place a spoonful of the rabbit on the plate. Sprinkle 1/2 tsp. of za’atar and place a dollop of the labneh on top of the meat. Next, fold and ribbon the zucchini on top of the labneh. Line up the fava beans in a rectangle shape at an angle from the other ingredients. Pour a small amount of the tarragon oil around the fava beans and serve.