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.
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.
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
- 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
- Wash the rabbit joints and pat dry
- 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
- Turn the heat on the pan to very low. Add a splash of olive oil and the onions, garlic, ginger and spices.
- Allow to sweat gently for 5-10 minutes until the onion is soft.
- 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.
- Taste the sauce and adjust spicing.
- 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.
- Simmer for 2-3 hours, until the rabbit is tender.
- 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.
- Taste and adjust seasoning.
- Serve the rabbit joints with the sauce, pears and some couscous with almonds and/or vegetables.