Sunday, October 25, 2009

Wild Rabbit Stew

I'm not really one to eat rabbits - I just don't come across them often and I have no idea how to cook them. However, Nigel Slater, a food writer that I love, has mentioned that wild rabbits are quite good to eat, both tastewise and farmwise (it helps out farmers who have difficulty dealing with the destruction they wreak on crops). So, while trying out this new farm food service in Islington, Farm Direct, I noticed they had whole wild rabbits for only 4 quid, and decided to give it a try.

Using the wonderful internet to learn how to cook rabbit, I started with this recipe and then heavily tweaked it with some of Nigel's ideas and also some things I had lying around the house that I thought might taste nice with the stew. It came out fabulously - really lovely flavors - and while the rabbit was tasty, I bet this cooking method would work with chicken or pork as well. A and I both soaked up the broth left in the bowl after eating the stew with pieces of toast so we didn't leave anything behind. Things I might do next time - coat the rabbit pieces with flour before frying so that the stew thickens up a bit, and possibly add another can of beans or even more veggies - I think I can play with this dish quite a lot. My recipe is below:

Wild Rabbit Stew

1 whole wild rabbit, jointed into smallish pieces
2 carrots, diced
2 stalks of celery, diced
2 small onions, diced
4 cloves of garlic, sliced
500g of mushrooms, sliced in half (I used white plain button mushrooms but I would think other types would be delicious as well)
250g smoked streaky bacon, cut into lardons
400 ml white wine (I used some leftover sauvignon blanc)
2 cans of cannelini beans
few springs of thyme
small bunch of chives, chopped

1. Fry bacon lardons in large Dutch oven (or any other large cooking vessel that can go from stovetop to oven) until fat has rendered. Remove bacon but leave bacon fat in Dutch oven.

2. Add pieces of rabbit to Dutch oven and fry in the bacon fat until golden on all sides. Remove rabbit but leave remaining fat in Dutch oven.

3. Add onions and garlic to Dutch oven. Cook until translucent and just slightly golden brown around the edges. Take a deep sniff of the smells coming out of the Dutch oven and swoon. Add carrots and onions and saute for another few minutes. Add in mushrooms and wine, and then make sure you deglaze the pan by scraping all the delicious brown crust that has developed on the bottom of the Dutch oven into the wine.

4. Add 2 cans of beans (with their water). Add bacon and rabbit back into the Dutch oven and give it all a good stir. Top up the stew with some additional water if it doesn't look like there's enough liquid - there should be enough liquid so that everything in the pot is almost covered.

5. Season with salt and freshly ground black pepper. Add in the thyme leaves, stir again, and then pop into a preheated 120 degree Celsius oven for 2 hours (I had the pot covered for the first hour, uncovered for the second). Since the stew still looked quite watery, I cranked the oven up to 200 degrees Celsius for another 30 minutes, then turned off the oven and let the dish sit in there for another couple of hours to evaporate some of the liquid.

6. When stew is done, sprinkle the chopped chives on top and serve on its own or with some kind of starch - we had it with thick toast, but mashed potatoes, rice or some egg noodles would probably be delicious as well.

No comments:

Post a Comment