July 9, 2008

Filed under: Uncategorized, North African, Game, Couscous, Slow cooked — ros @ 12:18 pm

What a backlash I got from that last post on braised rabbit! Luckily for me, the criticism wasn’t internet based but from people I could quite happily argue with face to face, namely my father and one of my students. It appears that the problem is not that I cooked a rabbit but that I used a picture of a bunny that was cute.

That’s it. If I’d used a picture of an ugly rabbit, no one would have cared. So, I did a long and tedious internet search to find a picture of a rabbit that wasn’t cute and fluffy to appease my father, but all I could find were these.

rabbit1

See my problem? Rabbits are naturally adorable despite being pests. After a lot of searching I did however manage to find a picture of the rabbit that is the one exception to this rule.

giant rabbit

Hmm…somehow I’m not entirely convinced that this rabbit really exists. 

Cuteness aside, there are a lot of good reasons for cooking up wild rabbits (I specify wild for a reason, see this post for more detail). If you avoid butchers and go for farmers’ markets, you’ll often find rabbits for around £4 each. That’s enough to feed at least two people, possibly three (or twenty if the rabbit is anything like the one in the last picture). The meat may take a while to cook but after a good long braise it will fall off the bone and it has a strong earthy taste that isn’t overpoweringly gamey. It’s versatile too. It works with light lemony flavours over pasta, in a cream sauce with paprika, in a curry (I’ve yet to try this but I believe it will work) or, as below, in a stew with aromatic North African flavours. 

I got the idea for this recipe on one of my many long walks through Islington. Once I mustered up enough cash to afford a trip to a restaurant (more on that later), I decided on the place I should visit by reading a lot of menus and deciding which one had the most dishes I couldn’t attempt myself. A Moroccan restaurant on Upper Street had an intriguing idea for a tagine of rabbit with pears and currants which I promptly stole before deciding to visiti the Latin American restaurant on the next street.

Rabbit ‘Tagine’ with Pears and Sultanas

 

fruity rabbit tagine

 

Ingredients

  •  wild rabbit, cleaned and jointed
  • 1 pinch saffron
  • 1 small/medium onion, finely diced
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 level teaspoon freshly ground cumin
  • 1 level teaspoon freshly ground coriander seed
  • 3 level teaspoons freshly ground cinnamon
  • 2 cubic inches ginger root, grated coarsley
  • enough chicken stock to cover the rabbit in a large saucepan (400ml or thereabouts)
  • handful of chopped coriander leaves
  • 1 tablespoon runny honey
  • half a handful sultanas
  • 2 pears, cored and cut into 6 or 8 slices, depending on size
  • couscous to serve

Method

  1. Wash the rabbit joints and pat dry
  2. Get a large saucepan really hot and then use it to brown the rabbit joints one, or two, at a time. Set the rabbit aside
  3. Turn the heat on the pan to very low. Add a splash of olive oil and the onions, garlic, ginger and spices.
  4. Allow to sweat gently for 5-10 minutes until the onion is soft.
  5. Add the stock, honey, saffron, sultanas and coriander leaf. Stir well, turn up the heat slightly and allow the mixture to bubble gently for a couple of minutes.
  6. Taste the sauce and adjust spicing.
  7. Add the rabbit to the saucepan and arrange to the rabbit is covered (or as close as you can manage) completely by the sauce. Bring this mixture to a simmer.
  8. Simmer for 2-3 hours, until the rabbit is tender.
  9. Strain the liquid off into another saucepan. Boil vigourously (well, as vigorously as you can without it spitting) until reduced by half. Add the pears and the remaining sultanas and boil gently until the pears are soft.
  10. Taste and adjust seasoning.
  11. Serve the rabbit joints with the sauce, pears and some couscous with almonds and/or vegetables.

9 Comments »

  1. I love rabbits … both to eat and as small furry cute pets (though not one and the same creature, obviously). Not such a fan of sultanas though … so I might be giving this a miss.

    However, I made a paella with rabbit last year and it was fantastic!

    Comment by Alex — July 9, 2008 @ 1:51 pm

  2. Ros, that rabbit totally did exist… he now is providing sustenance to Kim Jong-Il. http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,264263,00.html http://www.theaustralian.news.com.au/story/0,20867,21048397-2703,00.html

    I’m elarning to bake bread this summer, wish me luck I’m trying croissants today :S

    Comment by Lauren — July 9, 2008 @ 6:08 pm

  3. I too love rabbit, wild rabbit in particular. Just back from a week in northern France, where every butcher and market has plenty (the markets quite alarmingly had ‘pet’ rabbits for sale just a few feet from the dead ones!) Sadly Mrs L isn’t a big fan - not so much the cutesy thing I think as the bones (she has a view that animals should be bred without them…)

    Comment by Richard — July 10, 2008 @ 9:34 am

  4. That rabbit’s friends call him BA - for Bad-ass!! I would give him a wide berth ;-)

    When I was younger I refused to eat rabbit, precisely because of the “aww, poor fluffy bunny” theory. But thank heavens I lost those inhibitions and will now happily eat rabbit. I have a great recipe for rabbit stew with prunes, & cider, although I also substitute pork loin sometimes. The gamiest thing I ever tasted was barely cooked wild hare, which I had in Spain a couple of years ago - wonder how the two tastes would compare side by side?

    Comment by Jeanne — July 10, 2008 @ 3:23 pm

  5. Well I’m glad to see people are getting rabbit back on the menu! It’s a little worrying to hear they cost £4 each down your way though, I hope thats oven ready!

    I know it’s not possable in places like Islington, but for anyone a little further out of the city, making friends with a shooter or farmer could reap many rewards. Unfortunatly people throw away hundereds of rabbits at a time just because they need to be controlled and no-one wants them. A couple of pints could get you a lot of meals!

    Comment by Geoff — July 11, 2008 @ 10:25 am

  6. That’s exactly why, when Eat The Seasons gave me rabbit for last week’s entry in my “What’s in season” sidebar widget, I chose prepared meat for the photo rather than a fluffy bunny. You should have seen it coming, Ros! Lol.

    Comment by Trig — July 13, 2008 @ 12:28 pm

  7. I’ve made rabbit and chorizo paella too, Alex, and I loved it. I used to hate sulatanas when I was younger but I’m ok with them now. Goon loves them.

    Thanks for the link, Lauren, I totally thought that rabbit was photoshopped. How long must it take for rabbits to grow that big?! Best of luck with the bread! You’re braver than me!

    I understand the bones thing, Richard, it’s the reason why I don’t bother with quail very often. I guess they’re too fiddly to justify the price, even though they taste good. I think rabbit is worth it though- especially the big meaty legs.

    You’re right Jeanne- I reckon if the rabbit and I got in a fight, that rabbit would win easily. So much for being top of the food chain!. I have had hare but it was quite tough and very tricky to cook, even as a slow cook dish. Credit to the chefs who managed to serve it up rare.

    Welcome to the site, Geoff. The rabbits I get for £4 are more or less oven ready- they just require removal of the kidneys, liver and heart. I suspected that lots of rabbits are binned. I am even aware of a vegetarian family that have to shoot and discard rabbits on their estate because the buggers were eating their vegetables! I’ll bear your suggestion in mind if I ever get out of the big city.

    You’re right, Trig, putting up the finished dish alone would have saved me an earful, but I am a bit of a wind up merchant at heart.

    Comment by ros — July 22, 2008 @ 1:27 am

  8. That critter exists! That’s a Flemish Giant, although there may be a slight distortion by being held close to the camera. Females regularly get to three feet in length. Used to be a popular fur breed although now the preserve of shows due to a slow growing time. Good flavoursome eating when the buck is used on a Californian or New Zealand White doe.

    Comment by Dorsetlad — October 26, 2008 @ 2:56 pm

  9. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AFp1wP9wi_E

    you can also substitute the rabbit meat with alternative meat (such as seitan) & get more nutrients in the process.

    Comment by Luna Foxx — March 17, 2011 @ 9:02 pm

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