Putting aside any notions that we somehow destroyed Easter by dining on its tasty mascot, we sacrificed the traditional lamb in favour of rabbit.Rabbit does not seem to be as popular as it once was.This is a shame and I think its critics are missing a trick here. It is a healthy and flavourful meat but many people are concerned about the ethical issue and sustainability element and are therefore revolted by the thought of eating bunny meat.Much in the colouring and texture of its meat resembles chicken, as does its size and general anatomy, but to say that rabbit tastes like chicken would be a gross injustice to rabbit's strong, rich flavour. Certainly there are similarities—it's like saying turkey tastes like chicken—but at the end of the day (around dinner time) rabbit tastes like rabbit.One of the guiding factors in our choice was that you get a lot more for your money.Lamb has become a precious commodity and a luxury one can not always stretch to.With rabbit a little goes a long way, and I manged to get 3 separate recipes from one creature for less than the price of a free range chicken.
Lapin moutarde a la creme
1 tbsp olive oil
250g piece salt pork, pancetta or bacon, cut into chunky cubes
2 wild rabbits, skinned and jointed
1 large onion, peeled and thickly sliced
3 large carrots, peeled and roughly chopped
4 celery sticks, roughly chopped
2 bay leaves
1 sprig fresh thyme (optional)
500ml dry or medium-dry cider
1 generous tsp honey
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
200ml double cream
3 tbsp grainy mustard
the oil in a heavy-based frying pan. Gently fry the bacon until lightly
browned, then transfer to a large casserole. Brown the rabbit in the
same pan in batches, transferring to the casserole as they are done.
Sweat the onion in the same pan until soft and translucent, but not
coloured, and add to the casserole.
Add the carrots, celery, bay
leaves and thyme (if using) to the pot. Push everything around so it's
fairly tightly packed, then add the cider; top up with water, if
necessary, to cover the meat,
then add the honey and season. Bring to a simmer and cook at a very
low, tremulous simmer for an hour and a quarter, until the meat is
tender but not too flaky (older, tougher animals will take longer).
the rabbit pieces to a bowl, cover and keep warm while you make the
sauce. Strain the stock (keeping what you have discarded for another sauce later)– I do this first through a colander, then
through muslin or a cotton cloth, to get it beautifully clear. In a
clean pan, boil the strained stock hard until reduced to a scant 200ml,
then whisk in the cream and mustard, and boil for a few minutes more,
until thick and glossy. Taste, and adjust with salt, pepper and more
mustard. Reheat the rabbit in the sauce, turning to coat the pieces.
Serve with mashed potato and any spare sauce spooned over.
TIMING TIP: Once you have strained the stock,allow at least twenty minutes for the reduction process,so if you are preparing this for guests you need to take this extra timing into account.
Regarding left overs, my preference is to turn any left over rabbit into a thick, meaty sauce perfect on fresh pasta.The best and most traditional pasta served with the rabbit meat sauce is pappardelle. Thick, wide ribbons just perfect for holding the chunky sauce.
Rabbit sauce is rich, thick and heavy with warming .It
also requires a good red wine, and if you have it,the Portuguese Assobio makes a good pairing.
This recipe is one I adapted from a trip to Tuscany back in 1979. Drawn by the avant garde appeal of its corrugated cardboard cover I bought one of my first cookery books from a bookseller in the back streets of Florence.It is a limited edition with beautiful illustrations and recipes printed on re-cycled paper,very alternative and I have always treasured it.For any one interested in sourcing a copy it is now selling on sites like ebay for around €100.
I have no idea of the origin of the original recipe, but this is my adaptation of it. Enjoy.
Pappardelle with rabbit sauce
1 quantity of cooked left over rabbit,de-boned and shredded
the left over vegetables;carrots etc,strained from the above recipe
1 small carton of tomato passata
a little milk to thin the sauce.
Discard half the quantity of cooked carrot and reheat the rest of the vegetables with the tomato passata in a pan.Stir in the shredded meat and warm through.When heated through, transfer the contents of the pan to a processor and whizz until you have a thick creamy paste.Return this mixture to the pan and slowly stir in some milk bit by bit until you have the consistency of a rich creamy sauce.Eh voila stir it through some cooked pappardelle.Pour yourself a generous glass of vinho tinto and enjoy
Rabbit liver pate
200g rabbit liver (trimmed and cut into chunks)
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 small onion (very finely diced)
1 clove garlic (finely diced)
1/2 teaspoon fresh thyme (very finely chopped)
1 teaspoon parsley (finely chopped)
generous splash fino sherry
salt & pepper
3 tablespoons cream (whipped to peaks)
Melt the butter in a small pan until bubbling. Add the onion and garlic
and fry gently fot 5 minutes until golden brown and soft. Add the liver
and cook for 2 minutes before adding the sherry, parsley, thyme salt
& pepper stir for 1 minute then remove from the heat and leave for 2
Place in a food processor and blend for a few minutes until the pâté is smooth.
Leave to cool for 5 minutes, then gently fold in the whipped cream.
Spoon into a ramekin and smooth out. Cover with some plastic wrap or if
you’re feeling fancy – melt 2-3 tablespoons unsalted butter in a
saucepan and pour over the pâté to form a protective skin.
You can’t beat a pate with some crunchy oven toasted bread – or even just crusty fresh bread.
if you want to go Rabbit overboard all three recipes served together would make a sumptuous leporidelicious themed dinner.