Thursday, 21 October 2010

Tasty Little Bunnies

'Tasty little bunnies' I would say to my mother whenever she read me 'The Tale of Peter Rabbit' as a small child and I must admit I always was on Mr McGregor's side!
That mischievous little rabbit, eating all his lovely cabbages!  I hoped Mr McGregor would finally catch the little naughty and give him to Mrs McGregor to make into a lovely pie. I was sure there was a good woman in the background cooking up tasty farmhouse treats for the hard working and slightly misrepresented Mr M...

As we grew up we would have rabbit every so often from the local market and when I was a teenager friends would go out lamping and bring me home their spoils to cook up for them.

Last Sunday I was very excited when my parents came for lunch bringing with them a lovely wild rabbit, freshly prepared by Henry the butcher at Wyatts farm in Oxfordshire.

I have to say there is something slightly alarming about the sight of a skinned whole rabbit but don't let that put you off. Prepared well (rabbits must be gutted and skinned as soon as possible or the meat will have a bitter, slightly off taste) they are really delicious and as soon as you quarter them the cuts look like any other piece of meat. You can ask the butcher to do this for you too if you are a little squeamish...

With this lovely creature I made a delicious stew (thank you Anthea for the recipe) and Potted Rabbit; using an ingenious recipe created by my dad Billo from the leftover stew.
 So here they are:

Delicious Rabbit Stew (alla Mamma)

First chop your rabbit into 5 pieces and place in a mixing bowl ready for marinading.
This is a classic marinade and works very well with beef too:
Add 1 glass of red wine,
1 large clove of garlic, chopped. 
A good grind of black pepper,
5 juniper berries crushed under the knife to release the flavours,
2 bay leaves
1 sprig of rosemary
1 sprig of thyme

Mix all the ingredients together and allow them to sit and for at least 1 hour, stirring once or twice.
Preheat the oven to 180 C. Heat a little oil in a hot frying pan. Brown the meat well on all sides and transfer to a large casserole dish. Prepare some whole shallots and some celery sticks. Brown in the same pan as the meat for a minute or two before adding them to the meat. Pour some water into the meat pan and scrape up any juices or burnt bits that have stuck to the pan and pour the liquid over the meat.
Also pour over another 2 large glasses of red wine and 1 small cup of fresh black coffee (I don't know quite why but coffee is a genius addition to make a rich and meaty stew). Make sure the meat is mostly covered by the sauce, if not add a little more wine.
Cook in a moderate oven for about 1 1/2 hours stirring occasionally and seasoning to taste about half way through.

I like to serve it with freshly made Bubble & Squeak and some watercress.

Potted Rabbit (Allo Billo)

With the left over stew remove the meat and drain the sauce through a fine sieve into a small sauce pan discarding any lumps or veg. Finely flake the meat off the bones into the sauce (I had about half the rabbit left). Simmer over a low heat until the sauce has reduced by a half. Melt in roughly 1/3 of a packet of butter. I used quite a salty goats butter but normal salted butter is fine. Continue to reduce the sauce until it has almost completely evaporated and the flavours have been absorbed by the butter. Check the seasoning; when food is to be served cold you need to season it slightly more than you think; so make sure the salt balance is right.
Spoon into individual ramekins or a pate dish. Top with a little freshly melted butter to seal the tops.
Refrigerate well and served chilled with crunchy toast and a nice rich jelly.


  1. oh good lord naked rabbit! Another thing on my should have tried it list! Looks good Rose, and a tiny bit scary...

  2. I've heard the Potted Rabbit is a taste sensation on a fatty-par with rillon...

  3. oh yes, tasty little bunnies parts I & II now completed.
    6 little pots are in the fridge awaiting demolition - yum yum.

    Emily K.