Hi folks, I found these rabbit recipes a while back whilst looking for new ones on the noble hare. I thought that you might like to have them.
The Guardian, Sat 20 Oct 2007 23.58 BST
If I described to you a meat that was low in fat, delicate in flavour and hugely versatile, would you be interested? If I added that it was inexpensive, usually sourced very locally, and subject to none of the serious welfare concerns that attach to so much of the flesh we eat, would I have closed the deal? Such a meat certainly does exist - in abundant supply. But very few of us eat it.
I'm talking about wild rabbit. And I really rate it. Portioned, on the bone, it's an excellent meat for stews or casseroles. Boneless and trimmed, it makes a nifty stir-fry. And minced, well-seasoned and mixed with a bit of good fatty sausagemeat, it can be pressed into service as a fantastic burger, too.
So why does rabbit remain such a marginal makeweight in our meat-hungry diet? No doubt "fluffy bunny syndrome" is a factor. Greetings cards, soft toys and children's wallpaper repackage the rabbit as the cutest and cuddliest of all our native fauna. But that's not the full story. Gambolling lambs and fluffy chicks are cartoonified and anthropomorphised as petting toys in much the same way, and we don't seem to have too much trouble munching our way through a few million of them every week.
I think the problem is mainly that rabbit is wild and it's a long time - centuries - since any wild meat was treated as a staple (except in times of hardship and war). Increasingly, our culture (or at least a great swath of it) is comfortable only with food that is designed and controlled, from start to finish, by the hand of man. For many, the higher the level of adulteration and processing, the higher the level of trust placed in the food.
For others of us, the opposite is the case. With meat, in particular, backwards is forwards, and the less it has been interfered with, both during its life and after its death, the better. There could hardly be a better symbol of this retro yearning for more natural meat than the grass-grazing, veg-nibbling rabbit.
This is the best time of year to get your hands on a couple of wild "harvest" rabbits. Those shot now are likely to be young animals, born in the spring, and nice and plump from a summer of nibbling. Any good butcher can get you a rabbit or two - though a couple of days' notice might be helpful.
Farmed rabbit, by the way, is a very different proposition, and one I avoid. A lot of it is raised - mainly on the continent - in conditions little better than those for the average battery chicken. As for its flavour, well, in my experience it just doesn't have any. And the very idea of farming rabbit for food seems nonsensical. God knows, there's no shortage of the bobtailed blighters running about the countryside.
Why not let them enjoy a life of hopping about, having a lot of sex and nibbling the tops off my carrot plants before dispatching a few with a swift, sure shot, and doing them justice in a slow-simmered, cidery stew?
Ragù is a rich meat sauce for pasta, usually cooked long and slow. In this case, the sauce itself is pretty quick to put together, but the rabbit requires a good, long simmer to make it super-tender. Serves two.
2 tbsp olive oil
1 rabbit, jointed
4 rashers streaky bacon, diced
2 carrots, peeled and chopped
2 stems celery, roughly chopped
1 onion, peeled and halved ...#8805;
2 bay leaves
A few black peppercorns
2 garlic cloves, peeled and chopped
1kg tomatoes, peeled, deseeded and roughly chopped (or a 400g tin of chopped tomatoes)
Salt and ground black pepper
½ glass white wine
1 knob butter
250g pappardelle or tagliatelle
Extra-virgin olive oil, to serve
Heat a tablespoon of oil in a large pan over a medium-high heat. Add the rabbit pieces and brown all over. Add the bacon, carrot, celery and onion, and let them take a little colour. Add a bay leaf, the peppercorns and enough water just to cover everything. Bring to a simmer and cook, covered, for an hour and a half to two hours, or until the rabbit meat is falling off the bone.
Meanwhile, make a simple tomato sauce. Heat a tablespoon of olive oil in a saucepan over medium heat. Add the garlic and cook for a minute or two, without browning, then add the tomatoes and a bay leaf. Simmer for 10-15 minutes until the tomatoes are very soft and pulpy, and the mixture is thick. Remove the bay. If you like, blitz the sauce in a blender to get a smooth consistency, but it's not essential. Taste, season and set aside.
Take the meat out of the stock. Strain the stock, discard the veg, then pour into a wide pan. Add the wine, bring to the boil and boil until the liquid has reduced to about 200ml.
Pull all the rabbit meat off the bones, in shreds. Combine the sauce with the reduced stock and add the meat. Grind in lots of pepper and add a knob of butter. Taste and adjust the seasoning.
Cook the pasta in plenty of boiling, salted water until al dente, then drain. Transfer to two warmed dishes and spoon the ragù on top. Trickle over a little extra-virgin olive oil, add a good grinding of black pepper and serve.
Rabbit, leek and cider stew
Wild bunny has almost no fat, so add some while cooking. Slow-cooking with a bit of pork belly is a good bet, as it renders the meat beautifully tender and well lubricated. A slosh of cream won't hurt, either. Serves four to six.
1 tbsp olive oil
250g salted pork belly (or pancetta), cut into chunky cubes
2 rabbits, skinned and jointed
3-4 tbsp plain flour, seasoned
3 big leeks, trimmed and sliced thin
284ml carton double cream
1 large sprig fresh thyme
Salt and ground black pepper
1 good tbsp parsley, chopped
Heat the oil in a big pan over medium-high heat. Add the pork and cook until well browned. Scoop out the meat, leaving behind some rendered fat, and set aside. Toss the rabbit lightly in seasoned flour, add to the pan, brown all over, then turn off the heat.
Heat the butter in a separate pan and add the leeks. Sweat gently until soft and silky. Add to the rabbit, along with the browned pork, cider, cream and thyme. Bring to a simmer and cook, uncovered, for one to one and a half hours, until the meat is very tender. Season to taste and finish with a generous sprinkling of parsley. Serve with potatoes - mashed or sautéed.
Makes 10 burgers.
1 medium onion, finely chopped
A little oil
1kg rabbit meat, minced
250g sausagemeat or minced belly pork
About 1 tbsp mixed fresh herbs, finely chopped - I use marjoram, thyme, sage and rosemary
Salt and ground black pepper
Gently cook the onion in oil for a few minutes until softened, then set aside to cool. Meanwhile, use your hands to mix together the rabbit, sausagemeat and herbs, then mix in the onion and seasoning. Shape into 10 patties not more than 2cm thick, wrap in clingfilm and chill until ready to cook.
Cook the burgers on a barbecue or in a lightly oiled heavy frying pan for three to four minutes on each side. Serve in buns with a bit of fresh salad and either a squirt of good tomato ketchup or some mayonnaise spiked with English mustard. ·
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Rabbit Stew in Cider with Apple Dumplings
By The Guerilla Griller
Although suggested by the fact that it’s now the Chinese Year of the Rabbit, this stew is resolutely British; however, you will find similar anywhere you find a tradition of cider drinking and rabbits to be eaten.* It is a hearty winter dish, but can easily be adapted for the summer months, as I will show at the end.
I give a guide to quantities here, but do consider it a suggestion rather than a writ from on high.* Personally, I’d just get a good sized rabbit, a few handfuls of veg that looked good, and slosh in the cider until the meat and vegetables were just covered – I wouldn’t really be doing any precise measuring here.
Like you, I enjoy seeing bunnies going skippety-hop around the fields and meadows, but I hope you do not have issues with eating them: they are tasty, as free-range as you can get, are a pest in many areas, and breed like, well, like rabbits.* If you don’t know anyone who shoots, then many butchers sell them, as do some supermarkets.** Do make sure, though, that you are buying wild rabbit.
However, if I can’t convince you and you really are squeamish about eating bunnies, then you could use chicken or pork instead.* Actually, this recipe is brilliant with pork; chops perhaps, chunks from the shoulder, or slices from the belly, which last will need a longer, slower cooking (so put your veg in later so they don’t turn to mush).* Or you could even use good sausages.* My goodness, this is a dozen recipes in one.* But, for now, let’s cook rabbit.
Ingredients: serves 4
For the stew
One good sized rabbit of about 3lb/1.5kg, jointed
Four oz/110g good streaky bacon, unsmoked – cut into postage stamp sized pieces or lardons
1 pint/570ml cider – preferably not the designer kind that is supposed to be drunk over ice, but a proper still, sparkling, dry or (not too) sweet cider.
Onion, carrot and celery, plus, if you like, a mix of other root vegetables as available and in season, such as parsnips, turnips, swede, celeriac etc, all peeled and cut into good-sized chunks – about 1.5lb/750g in total, or around half the weight of the rabbit
3 or 4 cloves of garlic, peeled, cut in half
1oz/30g of plain/all purpose flour, liberally seasoned with salt and pepper
A sprig of rosemary or thyme, plus two bay leaves
A splash or two of oil for frying
You may also need a little plain boiling water or stock (chicken or rabbit) as the cooking proceeds
For the Apple Dumplings
8oz/225g plain/all purpose flour
Baking powder to the quantity suggested on the pack – different brands vary in “lift”, but it will be about one teaspoon for the above quantity of flour
4oz/110g grated/shredded suet, or any other hard fat as you prefer
Approximately 4oz/110g apple, peeled, cored and cut into slivers – splash with lemon juice or cider vinegar to stop from browning, which will also add a tang to the dumplings
Salt and pepper
Some cold water – How much is “some?”* See method below.
A little more flour to dust your hands and the surface on which you roll out your dumplings.
This can be cooked solely on the cooker hob, or finished in the oven as you prefer.* A cast iron pot, plain or enamelled, with a lid is ideal for the job. If using the oven, preheat to gas mark 4/180C/350F.* I prefer to finish in the oven, simply because I like to get the top of the dumplings a little crusty and it frees up the cooker top, but it’s up to you.
Put the pan onto a medium heat, splash in a little oil, then fry the bacon until it starts to brown and give off its fat.* Remove with a slotted spoon, and keep to one side.* Dust the rabbit pieces well with the seasoned flour, and fry in the bacon fat and oil, adding a little more oil if needed.* Turn once or twice until the rabbit has taken on some colour – you are not trying to cook it through here.* Remove with a slotted spoon and put with the bacon.
Add a little more oil if needed, and sweat the veg, including the garlic, until they begin to soften a little and take on some colour.* Return the rabbit and bacon to the pan, pour in the cider, and add the herbs.* Scrape up any tasty, crusty bits from the bottom.* Bring to the boil, reduce to a simmer, put on the lid and either continue to cook on the cooker top on a low heat, or place in the oven.* The flour from the rabbit-dusting will thicken the sauce as it cooks.
Now make the dumplings.* I use a mixer, but by all means do it by hand if you like.* Sift the flour and mix all the dry ingredients together.* Add a very small amount of water and begin to blend, adding a little more water at a time, just until the mixture comes together and pulls away fairly cleanly from the side of the bowl.* You should have a fairly firm dough that is not too sloppy or sticky.* Carefully mix in the apple slivers, trying not to break them up too much.
Dust your hands and work surface with flour, and separate the dough into pieces the size you like, rolling them into balls – remember they will rise to about twice their current size.* I make mine about the size of goofballs in their raw state.
After the rabbit has been cooking for about half an hour, check the liquid levels in the pot, and add a little water or stock if needed.* Drop the dumplings into the rabbit stew, replace the lid, and cook for another twenty minutes.* If you like the tops of the dumplings to get a little crusty, now remove the lid; If you like soft dumplings, leave it on.. Continue cooking for a further twenty minutes or so.
You may like to serve your choice of green veg with this, perhaps simple greens, braised lettuce or even pak choi (with a nod to the Chinese).* If the dumplings aren’t enough carbohydrate for you, serve with noodles, rice or any kind of spuds.* Either way, I’ll probably want some good bread to mop up the juices (and how many recipes do I finish with those words?)
To adapt this for the summer, lose the dumplings, keep the onion (but perhaps spring onions/scallions instead), carrot and one stick of celery, diced a bit finer, and add some peas, green beans or lettuce toward the end of the cooking time.