My next-door neighbour rang the other day, to enquire as to whether I might like a rabbit. A recently shot rabbit. I headed next door somewhat dubiously, worried about what blood-splattered scene might await me. But I was presented, very casually, with a freezer bag containing said rabbit. Minus fur, skin, head and guts, but with the heart, lungs and ribcage still left in ‘for making stock’. And still very much looking like a rabbit.
Having seen the slightly horrified look on my face, my neighbour suggested that he might show me how to joint the poor little thing. I retained minimal amount of the information, as I was still getting over the shock of there now being two dead rabbits in the kitchen. So I took the one that had been jointed for me to cook right away, and stowing the other (whole) rabbit hurriedly in the freezer, to worry about some other time.
Rabbit doesn’t have much meat on it, so if you add the saddle too, there is more to pick at. I just chucked the lot in, along with some bacon to bulk it out. Rabbit tastes a little like chicken crossed with lamb- it’s got a rich, meaty flavour that goes well with cider. Some recipes suggest red wine, which you can use instead if you want a more hearty affair. But use some booze please, it’s getting close to winter after all.
1 rabbit, jointed
4 rashers of bacon, cut into strips
100g carrots, peeled and chopped
1 onion, thinly sliced
200g turnip, peeled and chopped
1 parsnip, peeled and chopped
50g celeriac, peeled and finely chopped
100g dried prunes
2 tbsp brandy
1 tbsp brown sugar
1 apple, grated
1 pint chicken stock
1 tbsp flour
Preheat the oven to 150C.
Put the prunes in a bowl, sprinkle over the brown sugar and pour over the brandy, leaving to soak while you prepare the rest. Put one tablespoon of plain flour on a plate and season. Coat the rabbit in the flour, then get a frying pan hot and fry the meat until starting to colour on both sides. Put in a casserole dish, and add the prunes and brandy. Cook onions and bacon in the same pan, pouring in a bit of stock to help incorporate the bits stuck to the bottom of the pan. Add the rest of the veg and the grated apple, and fry for a couple of minutes. Put the lot into the casserole dish along with the rabbit, and pour over the cider and stock. Put a lid on and cook on the bottom shelf of the oven for 2 ½ hours. By this time, the rabbit should be tender and the juices reduced slightly. Serve with rice, bread or something else to mop up the juice.