October 14, 2007

Filed under: Uncategorized — ros @ 9:31 am

I distinctly remember my first taste of rabbit. It had been cooked lovingly by my own hand, back in the first year of my PhD. The flavour was distinctive, it was earthy and grassy and I’d call it an acquired taste to say the least. Despite what people had previously told me, it didn’t taste anything like chicken. Once I developed a taste for rabbit, I wondered what was wrong with the people who compared such a flavoursome meat to your bog-standard broiler hen. Last week I finally understood.

In the past I’d never been one to purchase farmed bunnies. For a start they are over twice the price of your average wild rabbit and it seems like a waste of resources to farm something which is so common over the English countyside that it is considered vermin. However, last weekend I went to Borough with the intention of picking up a rabbit for a dish I’d been intending to make for a while: braised rabbit with lemon and green olives. Due to a rather heavy night after work I didn’t manage to drag myself down to London Bridge until 3pm, by which time a lot of stuff had sold out in the market. I was stuck with either no rabbit or farmed rabbit.

As regular readers will know, I’m not one to let go of an idea easily, so one exceptionally large farmed rabbit was carted home with me that day and, when I say large, I mean LARGE. it was roughly the same size as the hare I’d bought 18 months previously. While Goon and I will normally eat a rabbit between us, the monster i bought on Saturday was split in two. I took a back and front leg for each of us and the remainder went in the freezer. The legs were then braised slowly in a , lemony mixture for about two hours.

Rabbit Braised with Lemon and Green Olives

rabbit with lemon and green olives

 Serves 2

  • 2 front and two back legs of a large farmed rabbit
  • 1 small onion, finely diced
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • Olive oil, salt and pepper 
  • handful pitted green olives
  • zest of two lemons
  • juice of half a lemon
  • 250ml dry white wine
  • 8-12 basil leaves, torn
  • handful oregano, roughly chopped
  • 200ml chicken or vegetable stock
  • chopped flatleaf parsley and some lemon wedges to serve
  1. Preheat the oven to gas mark 3
  2. Dust the rabbit pieces in flour and brown on all sides over a high heat. Place the rabbit in a casserole dish.
  3. Gently fry the onion in the olive oil for a couple of minutes. when it is beginning to soften, add the garlic, lemon zest and oregano.
  4. When the onion and garlic are cooked, pour the mixture over the rabbit pieces.
  5. Scatter the olives over the rabbit, squeeze over the lemon juice and then cover the meat with the stock and wine.
  6. Place the casserole dish in the over for 1.5-2 hours, turning the rabbit pieces occasionally.
  7. Remove the casserole from the oven. Pour the liquid into a saucepan and cover the meat with kitchen foil.
  8. Place the saucepan over a medium/high heat  and allow the sauce to reduce and thicken. A minute or two before serving, add the torn basil. 
  9. Place the rabbit portions on warmed serving plates and pour the sauce over them. Squeeze a wedge of lemon over each portion, scatter some parsley over the meat and serve, perhaps with some boiled new potatoes tossed in butter and parsley and some steamed green beans.

*** 

The sauce for this was fabulous and the texture of the rabbit after the slow braise was perfect. The meat was tender, juicy and came off the bone easily. The only problem was that, if I hadn’t been there to see it jointed, I wouldn’t have believed I was eating a rabbit but a particularly meaty broiler chicken. The meat had picked up the flavour of the sauce but had no character of its own. It literally tasted just like poor quality chicken which, after having several delicious wild rabbits, was very disappointing.

So in short, I recommend the recipe but it would be worth looking for wild rabbits to use. It’s true they take longer to cook. I would probably leave a wild rabbit braising for at least three hours. Even then, the meat wouldn’t quite have the melt in your mouth texture of the farmed rabbit but it would still be tender and the extra flavour would more than make up for it.

3 Comments »

  1. Thanks for the info on farmed rabbits vs wild. Mayhaps this is why I have never been able to recapture the wonderful rabbit dishes I had in Paris in my own kitchen?? Fat chance finding wild rabbit here… you’re lucky if you know where to find it farmed!

    Comment by Lea — October 22, 2007 @ 10:11 pm

  2. I don’t know what the Paris kitchens would have been using. A lot rabbits are farmed in France.

    I think its bizarre that farmed rabbits even exist. The things have to be shot to stop them eating crops and I’m sure that most go to waste. At least that is the case in the UK.

    Comment by ros — October 25, 2007 @ 12:04 pm

  3. I bought two front legs of a farm rabbit and followed your recipe. It tasted just great!. Thank you.

    Comment by Maryly — November 6, 2007 @ 10:13 am

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