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.

February 3, 2008

Filed under: Uncategorized, Mediterranean, Reared Poultry, Rice — ros @ 1:26 pm

Is it me, or has this been one of the coldest and most miserable winters ever? Perhaps it was the lack of a decent summer that did it, or perhaps it is the daily 75 minute trek beginning at 7am that I now have to endure,  but this winter has definitely made me more grumpy than I’ve been in a long time.* Within ten minutes of leaving the house I find I lose all feeling in my hands, feet and face and this really irritates me. I find it even more irritating that, despite the near arctic temperatures, I still end up breaking a sweat from the effort of climbing Highgate Mountain. Someone needs to build a chairlift  for that hill. 

The one advantage of working at the highest point in London is that it provides some fairly pretty views. On a clear day, from the top floor of our science block, you can see all the way to Kent and,looking out from the top of the maths block after it gets dark, the glittering lights of Central London look quite stunning. However, this is poor compensation for the hypothermia induced by standing on top of an extremely windy hill in sub zero temperatures at midnight, trying to hail a taxi home.

I know that there are some good things about winter (pheasant springs to mind, and venison casserole) but this week I just wanted to put myself in a state of total denial and pretend it was mid July. It was time to make something packed with mediterranean flavours to remind me of the sunshine we’ve all been missing so much. 

Orange and Rosemary Roasted Chicken with Saffron Rice and Smoky Red Pepper Sauce

For The Chicken 

  • 1 free range medium sized chicken
  • 2 oranges
  • 8 sprigs rosemary
  • 100g butter
  1. At least 12 hours before you’re ready to cook, take the chicken and use your fingers to loosen the skin from the breast meat by pushing your fingers under the skin at the neck end. Make a nick at the bottom of each leg and loosen the skin from the legs too.
  2. Peel one of the oranges. Slice the flesh as thinly as you can and push it under the skin of the chicken so the breasts and legs are completely covered. Push down on the chicken skin gently so the juice from the orange is releaed onto the meat.
  3. Push the rosemary sprigs under the skin of the chicken so that they are in direct contact with the meat.
  4. Cover the chicken and leave it to marinate in the fridge for at least 12 hours.
  5. In the meantime, make some orange infused butter by zesting the second orange, and mixing the grated zest with 100g of melted butter. Leave this to infuse for a few minutes, then transfer the butter to a container and refrigerate until ready to use.
  6. Ten minutes before you’re ready to cook your chicken, preheat your oven to gas mark 7.
  7. Remove the orange pieces from under the chicken skin but leave the rosemary as it is.
  8. Push a chunk of the orange infused butter between each side of the chicken breast and the covering skin. Do the same to the chicken thighs.
  9. Roast the chicken for ten minutes at gas mark 7, then turn the heat down and roast for a further hour at gas mark 5, or until the juices run clear when the thickest part of the chicken thigh is pierced with a skewer.
  10. Remove the chicken from the oven, cover it with foil and let it rest for 20 minutes before serving. 

For the Red Pepper Sauce

  • 2 red peppers, cored, deseeded and cut in half vertically
  • 2 fat cloves smoked garlic (or ordinary garlic)
  • 2 teaspoons smoked paprika
  • 100ml chicken stock   
  1. Place the peppers and garlic cloves on a baking tray under a medium grill until the pepper skins are blistering and charred. Remove them from the grill and leave until cool enough to handle.
  2. Peel the peppers, roughly chop the flesh and place in a blender. Squeeze the garlic cloves from their skin and add to the pepper along with the paprika and chicken stock. Blend until smooth.
  3. Transfer to a small saucepan and bring to a gentle bubble. After around 5 minutes the sauce should be a good consistency.

For the Saffron Rice (essentially a simple vegetarian paella)

  • 4 handfuls paella rice 
  • 1 small onion, very finely diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 small courgette, finely chopped
  • 2 tablespoons parsley, finely chopped
  • large pinch saffron dissolved in 100ml chicken tock
  • Additional chicken stock (up to 400ml) 
  • olive oil
  1. Soften the onion over a low heat in about a tablespoon of olive oil. When soft, add the garlic and courgettes and fry for another two minutes.
  2. Add the rice and stir to coat with the oil. Fry gently for another couple of minutes.
  3. Add the chicken stock witht he saffron, turn up the heat to medium and stir continuously until the  stock is absorbed
  4. Add a ladleful of the remaining stock and stir until absorbed
  5. Repeat step 4 until the rice is cooked, then stir in the parsley. Taste and season.

Carve the caicken and serve on the saffron rice surrounded by the pepper sauce. Garnish with more parsley and rosemary.

******

 

 

*and if you remember how grumpy I was last year, you’ll know that’s saying something.

May 25, 2006

For some reason I’ve been craving Sri Lankan food recently. This is very weird as I thought my parents’ cooking had put me off it for life.

My parents see food as being purely functional.  Everything in the kitchen gets thrown in a pan and stir fried to death. Every vegetable in the fridge gets chopped up, thrown together with soya mince, quorn sausages (yes, they’re veggies) rice, chilli sauce, soy sauce, tomato sauce and lettuce and cooked until the sausages are solid and the lettuce is soggy. Once, for a dinner party, tandoori chicken got made with strawberry yoghurt because Mum thought it wouldn’t make it taste any different. And then there was the lamb chop that was left in the oven so long I thought it was pork.

However there were some things which I really miss. Mostly things I had on holiday in Sri Lanka. Kiribath is amazing stuff and a well made Sri Lankan fish curry never goes down badly. I’d like to find some breadfruit too.

So I thought I’d give it a go, and it worked. Very well in fact. I made..

Mungatta Kiribath: Kiribath is rice cooked in coconut milk and is traditionally served on New Year, birthdays and other special occasions. It has a risotto like texture, but is slightly more sticky. Its often pressed into a large square and cut into diamond shaped pieces. Mungatta means mung beans. These are sometimes added for a bit of extra texture and flavour.

Fish Curry: Sri Lankan curries are similar to South Indian curries in a lot of ways. There are subtle differences in the spicing. Often a LOT of chilli is used. Also the spices for the curry powder is roasted before being ground, giving the flavour of the curry more depth

I served these with some okra that I fried gently with curry powder and a touch of chilli powder. I would say that it was a big success. It certainly seemed to go down well with my housemates who tried it.

May 22, 2006

Filed under: Uncategorized, Mediterranean, Game, Carb Based Dishes, Rice, Sausages — ros @ 3:28 pm

This happened in true “Ready Steady Cook” style last Sunday. There was a French rabbit in the freezer, chorizo in the fridge, a big pan and not a lot of space anywhere. Paella was the obvious choice. Fortunately, it turned out to be a tasty choice too, although its construction turned out to be quite stressful.

It should have happened like THIS. But that would be far too easy.

Problem number 1: No Paella rice. Solution - substitute Japanese sushi rice and believe it or not… it worked!

Problem number 2: No red pepper.  Solution- stir in  some red pepper soup and put in fresh chopped tomato for colour.

Problem number 3: No herbs. No solution to this one. I just prayed there’d be enough herbiness in the stock to make up for it.

Problem number 4: The chorizo was covered in a shrink wrap plastic that I mistook for the chorizo skin. I’d added half the chorizo before I noticed and spent a while picking plastic out of the pan.

Problem number 5: The rabbit was looking at me funny. No - not really a problem but why leave the head on the rabbit when packing it? It’s pretty useless. Isn’t that weird? Guess it isn’t in France. Also we had a freak rabbit with a disturbingly big liver.

After all that we eventually had a paella that was very nice apart from the occasional bit of chorizo plastic floating about. We paired it with a nice Rioja and some dolmades we found in the freezer.