Everywhere in France, Dijon mustard, hot or mild, with or without seeds, is used as a quick seasoning sauce when grilling or roasting. In this Provençal recipe, the mustard is bolstered with chopped herbs and plenty of garlic. Roasted tomatoes are the natural accompaniment.

Serves 4

  •     3 tablespoons/45 ml olive oil, more for roasting pan
  •     6 tablespoons/120 g Dijon mustard
  •     1 rabbit (about 3 pounds/1.35 kg), cut into pieces
  •     2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil
  •     1 tablespoon chopped fresh oregano or savory
  •     1 tablespoon chopped fresh rosemary
  •     Salt and pepper
  •     10 garlic cloves, unpeeled

Baked tomatoes

  •     2 large tomatoes
  •     2 tablespoons olive oil, more for baking dish
  •     3 tablespoons browned bread crumbs
  •     1 garlic clove, finely chopped
  •     1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley

Onion Jus

  •     2 onions, finely chopped
  •     3/4 cup/175 ml medium-dry white wine
  •     2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley

Heat the oven to 350˚F/180˚C. Oil a roasting pan and put the rabbit pieces in it. Mix the mustard and 3 tablespoons oil in a small bowl, and brush the rabbit pieces generously with the mixture, reserving some for basting rabbit pieces. Put the rabbit pieces in the prepared pan, and sprinkle them with more oil and the basil, oregano, and rosemary, salt and pepper. Roast the rabbit until tender and golden brown, 45 minutes to 1 hour, adding the garlic cloves after the first 15 minutes. During cooking, turn the pieces from time to time, brushing them with more mustard mixture so they are always moist. Take care not to overcook the rabbit pieces or they will be dry.

For the tomatoes, core them and cut them in half through the equator. Oil a small baking dish and add the tomatoes, cut side up. In a small bowl, mix together the bread crumbs, garlic, parsley, oil, salt and pepper, stirring to make a crumbly mixture. Spread it on the tomatoes. Bake them in the oven with the rabbit. When the skins split after 12 to 15 minutes, showing the tomatoes are tender, remove them from the oven, set aside, and keep warm.

When the rabbit pieces are done, transfer them to a platter with the garlic cloves, cover with aluminum foil, and keep them warm. For the onion jus, add the onions to the roasting pan and fry on the stove top over medium heat, stirring often, until golden brown, 3 to 5 minutes. Add the wine and bring to a boil, stirring to deglaze the pan juices. Taste, adjust the seasoning, and spoon the onions with their jus over the rabbit.

To serve, arrange the tomatoes around the edge of the platter. I do not advise reheating roasted rabbit because it will dry out, but you can cook it 3 or 4 hours ahead of serving, as both it and the tomatoes are excellent at room temperature.

by Anne Willan, Chronicle Books, 2007.