Monday, 26 November 2007

You Say Bunny, I Say Rabbit

Much to the disgust of my pet loving niece, I adore rabbits. Not to pet and cuddle, just to eat. Rabbits have to be the most under-rated meat around, and definitely the most under-used. In the U.K., we simply don't eat enough of them. In a time when we are crying out for alternatives to broiler chickens, we have millions of rabbits scampering all over the countryside causing untold damage. They are sustainable, we are doing farmers a favour by eating them, they are naturally 'free-range' and they are cheap, incredibly low in fat and delicious. Do you need any other reasons?

In an effort to change perceptions and make this once great rabbit eating nation a country of bunny munchers again, a simple recipe is called for. A recipe that will eradicate any thoughts that rabbit is a difficult meat to prepare or eat. For example, I know of people that won't eat rabbit as they think it has too many bones. Solution; take the meat off the bones once cooked. Or people who think they are too cute to eat. Solution; close your eyes, open your mind and taste it. If cooked properly, I am convinced you will adore it.

This recipe uses a couple of simple techniques that any amateur home cook can attempt which all makes up for a delicious and cheap meal. Chop up some vegetables and bacon, pile them all in a casserole dish with the portioned rabbit, pour in a bottle of cider and stick it in the oven. If you don't like the bones, once cooked, take the meat off and then put back into the sieved cooking sauce. Experiment with flavours and any additions. I use a little mustard, cream and prunes in mine. It works in a heavenly way. Now stop rabbiting on and jump to it!

Rabbit with Cider, Mustard and Prunes

Serves 2

1 rabbit, skinned and jointed (ask your butcher, and ensure that you keep the livers, heart and kidneys. The livers, mashed, will help thicken and richen the sauce and the heart and kidneys make for a delicious 'chef's treat, quicky fried in olive oil)
1 tbsp olive or rapeseed oil
Salt and pepper
3 rashers of un-smoked streaky bacon, chopped
1 carrot, cubed
1 onion, cubed
1 stick of celery, cubed
1 tbsp dried or fresh thyme leaves
2 bay leaves
500ml good dry cider
A handful of dried prunes
1 tbsp wholegrain mustard
100ml double cream
The rabbit livers, mashed with a fork

1 - Pre-heat the oven to 160 degrees C, GM3.
2 - In a flame-proof casserole dish, heat up the oil. Season the rabbit portions then quickly brown all over. Remove with a slotted spoon and keep aside.
3 - Add the bacon, carrots, onion and celery and cook for 5 minutes until softened and just beginning to colour. Stir in the thyme and bay leaves.
4 - Return the rabbit portions to the casserole dish then pour over the cider. Bring to the boil, cover, then place in the oven. Cook for 45-50 minutes.
5 - Remove the rabbit and keep aside. Pour the sauce through a sieve into a clean pan, pushing the vegetables through the sieve which will help thicken the sauce. Bring to the boil, then simmer whilst you remove the rabbit meat from the bones.
6 - Stir in the cream, mustard and mashed rabbit livers. Taste for seasoning. Return the rabbit meat to the sauce along with the prunes and heat through.
7 - Serve with mashed potato and seasonal greens such as sprouts or savoy cabbage.

16 comments:

theboydonefood said...

big and bold recipe - sounds like a real modern classic. Rabbit is cheap and delicious, so do what dave says, close your eyes and chow down.

Rosie said...

I have never eaten rabbit but I am told that it is far tastier than chicken. Your dish looks very tempting I must say.

Rosie x

Pixie said...

Mmmm adore rabbit, delicious!

Great Big Vegetable Challenge said...

I have eaten hare but not rabbit. Hare was very strong tasting and actually tasted a bit high - as if it had been hanging around a bit. Does rabbit taste like that?
Charlotte

theboydonefood said...

BUNNY BOILER!

Squishy said...

Bunny Muncher ;(

David Hall said...

Rosie - I think that it is tastier IMHO. Give it a go.

Charlotte - completely different taste to hare. Hare much gamier and distinctive (and can taste rotten depending on how old the hare was). Rabbit is a lot more subtle but again, you want one not too old and also never overcook it or it turns powdery.

Amelita - I can live with that!

Cheers
David

Cynthia said...

David, I need your advice about cooking rabbit. I seen fresh ones here in the supermarket.

The one time I bought some, I figured that the cooking time is the same as chicken but when I set down to eat it, the meat was tough. What's the general cooking time?

I had made stewed rabbit with potatoes, onions, carrots etc.

David Hall said...

Hi Cynthia

You have to be careful with rabbit. Overcooking will make it tough and powdery in tecture. Also, if it is an old rabbit, it will have tough flesh. So get it from a trustworthy source, and don;t overcook it. I generally cook it for 45-50 mins maximum if stewing. Hope that helps!

Thanks
Dave

schmoof said...

Is it still naturally free range if it is a farmed rabbit?

Julia said...

Haha! You may be interested in my first taste of rabbit:

http://asliceofcherrypie.blogspot.com/2006/11/bunny-in-pot.html

David Hall said...

Hi Schmoof

Not sure if you are trying to catch me out there but I suppose it depends on how they are farmed. Kept in cages on a farm, then no. Kept in a nice area to run around in on a farm, yes. Either way, buy from a reputable source!

Cheers
David

Andrea said...

Hello David

I love rabbit and your recipe sounds delicious and will certainly be on the menu here before very long.

I do have one question though - you say to ensure you get the heart, liver & kidneys but in the recipe you only mention what to do with the liver. What part do the heart & kidneys play in this masterpiece?

Andrea

David Hall said...

Hi Andrea

Good point! I've updated the recipe now. Simply fry the heart and kidneys in olive oil for a little treat. A chef's treat!

Cheers
David

Sarah G said...

Another great recipe; my other half told me I had to write to say how much he enjoyed this (and the others of yours I've cooked since finding 'book the cook'). Although I cook rabbit fairly often I'd never thought of taking it off the bone like this - would recommend this technique as it works very well, especially of you've got guests (and one rabbit will serve 3 or even 4 when done like this). Thanks!

Antonia said...

I bet this is delicious. I always order rabbit if I see it on a restaurant menu but have never actually cooked it myself. I shall give your recipe a try as it sounds great.