A couple of weekends ago, when the season started to turn I started fixating on Rabbit. All the recipes I've come across feel very autumnal. Most feature some sort of fruit or sweetness. I've never cooked or eaten rabbit before so it was a mini-milestone of sorts for me. The week before I phoned my ma who i usually consult for cooking tips. She's got a very acute sense of smell and said it could get quite smelly during cooking. Kelsie at rabbit growing up and seconded that opinion. In fact I had to promise her I wouldn't stink up the house if she'd let me give it a go.
After lots of hemming and hawing I decided to go with a variation on a French recipe I found in Laura Washburn's book Bistro.
I decided to mark the mini-milestone by getting a nice bottle of red wine. The folks at Soho Wine Supply were very helpful and recommended this:
NOTE: the book recipe said to marinate the rabbit overnight. Because of last minute change of plans the rabbit was marinated for almost 48 hours!
Rabbit with Prunes (serves 4)
adapted from Bistro, by Laura Washburn
1 rabbit, jointed into 7-8 pieces
1 onion, chopped
1 carrot chopped
2 garlic cloves, crushed
1 fresh bay leaf
2-3 sprigs fresh thyme
1 bottle red wine
250 ml brandy or cognac
a few peppercorns
2 Tbs sunflower oil
30g unsalted butter
200g lardons (i used smoked back bacon)
100g well seasoned flour
2 onions, sliced
1 Tbs creme fraiche
coarse sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
- The day before, mix the marinade ingredients and place in a glass or ceramic bowl with the rabbit pieces well immersed. Cover and refrigerate overnight.
- When ready to cook, remove the rabbit from the marinade and pat dry with kitchen roll. Strain the marinade and reserve the liquid. Also keep the bay leaf and thyme.
- In a large pot heat 1 Tbs of the sunflower oil and half the butter. Add the lardons and onions and cook over high heat until brown, about 5 minutes. Remove and set aside.
- Dredge the rabbit pieces in the flour, shaking off the excess. Add the rest of the oil and butter to the casserole. When sizzling, add the rabbit pieces and brown all over. Add the reserved marinade liquid, bacon and onion mixture and port. Add the reserved thyme and bay leaf and season with salt and pepper. Bring to the boil, skim off the foam, then lower the heat, cover, and simmer for 45 minutes. Taste for seasoning.
- Remove the rabbit pieces to a plate. Raise the heat and add the prunes. Cook until thickenedf, 10-15 minutes more. Stir in the creme fraiche, return the rabbit to the casserole and cook just to warm through. Do not boil.
- Serve with fresh tagliatelle and a glass of delicious red wine.