RABBIT AND HARE

 

The main thing to note about rabbit is that wild and farmed rabbit need to be cooked in quite different ways. Farmed rabbit (which is what is commonly sold on the continent) is like chicken and needs perhaps 40 minutes of gentle stewing. The much gamier and tougher wild rabbit normally needs at least an hour and a half .

 

When you are jointing a rabbit (or asking the butcher to do so), assume that each hind leg makes a portion and the saddle can be divided into two or possibly three pieces. The neck end is mostly bone and can be discarded. The front legs together barely make one portion unless you are dealing with a large farmed rabbit. One wild rabbit does about three or at most four people; farmed ones, which are larger, can do four or five or even six if very large.

 

 

RABBIT AND PORK CASSEROLE  (for 6-8)

 

This recipe and the next one both involve a mustard and cream sauce, but in the first one the rabbit is eked out with belly of pork and vegetables. Both recipes are from France, where the combination of rabbit, cream and mustard is a favourite one.

 

2 wild rabbits, jointed

400gr belly of pork, skinned, boned and sliced (keep the skin)

3 carrots, peeled and sliced

2-3 onions, peeled and chopped

1 wine-glass brandy

¼ pint/150ml chicken stock or white wine

1 dessertspoon cornflour

1 tablespoon French mustard

120-150ml cream

1 large clove garlic, peeled and crushed

salt, pepper, thyme, bay-leaf, parsley

 

Lay half the pork in the bottom of an oven-proof casserole, and then half the carrots and onions. Season with salt and pepper, and add the thyme and bay-leaf. Lay the rabbit joints on top, and then the rest of the carrots, onions and pork. Season again with salt and pepper and lay the pork skin over the top. Pour over the brandy and stock or wine. Cover tightly with foil and a lid. Cook for half an hour in an oven pre-heated to gas mark 8/230° C. Then turn the oven down to gas mark 3/160° C and cook for another 2½ hours. Remove the pork skin.  Arrange the rabbit, pork and vegetables on a serving dish and keep warm. Reduce the liquid by about half. Mix the cornflour in a basin with a little water and then stir in the mustard and cream. Stir this mixture into the rabbit liquid and heat stirring until it has thickened. Pour over the rabbit and serve sprinkled with chopped parsley.

 

 

 

MUSTARD RABBIT  (for 4-5)

 

1 farmed rabbit, jointed, or 2 smallish wild rabbits

3 tablespoons flour

3 tablespoons olive oil

4 rashers bacon, diced

4 shallots, peeled and sliced

¼ pint/150ml dry white wine

¼ pint/150ml chicken stock

1 tablespoon Dijon mustard (or 1 dessertspoon Dijon mustard and 1 dessrertspoon

    grain mustard)

125-150ml cream (preferably crème fraȋche)

salt, pepper, bay-leaf, thyme

chopped fresh tarragon

 

Put the flour, salt and pepper in a plastic bag with the rabbit pieces and shake until the rabbit is well coated. Heat the olive oil in a casserole or saucepan. Add the bacon, shallots and rabbit pieces, browning the rabbit on all sides. Add the wine, stock, bay-leaf and theyme. Simmer until tender (at least 1½ hours for wild rabbit; ¾ hours for farmed rabbit). Then mix together the cream and mustard, stir into the rabbit, sprinkle with the tarragon and serve.

 

 

 

 

RABBIT WITH OLIVES  (for 5-6)

 

This recipe is a slightly adapted version of one from a book of Tuscan cooking by Leslie Forbes.

 

3 lb/1.5kg farmed rabbit, jointed

2 cloves garlic, peeled and slashed

4 fluid oz/120 ml white wine

1 tablespoon tomato paste

6 tablespoons pitted black olives

8 fluid oz/220ml stock

olive oil, salt, pepper

 

Brown the rabbit and garlic in a generous amount of olive oil. Add the wine and turn up the heat to evaporate it almost completely. Add the tomato paste and stock and simmer, covered, for 15 minutes. Add the olives, salt and pepper. Simmer for a further 25-30 minutes until tender.

 

 

 

RABBIT WITH WHITE BEANS   (for 4-6)

 

This recipe is adapted from one published by the excellent Simon Hopkinson in the Independent.

 

1 large wild rabbit, jointed

300-400 dried white beans, soaked overnight

1 teaspoon coriander seeds, crushed

8 cloves garlic, peeled and crushed

4 bay-leaves

150-200 ml dry sherry

chopped parsley, olive oil, salt, pepper

 

Brown the rabbit pieces on all sides in an oven-proof casserole with a generous amount of olive oil. Add the coriander seeds and garlic and mix around, cooking for a couple more minutes. Add the drained beans, bay-leaves and sherry. Cover with water and bring to a simmer. Cover the casserole tightly with foil and a lid, and cook in an oven pre-heated to gas mark 2/150º for 1½-2 hours, or until beans are done and rabbit is tender. Stir in some chopped parsley and serve.

 

 

 

 From a Roman mosaic in Tunisia

 

 

CIVET DE LIEVRE  (for 6)

 

1 hare, cut into pieces

1 bottle of red Burgundy or similar

2 tablespoons brandy

10 cloves garlic, peeled and crushed

5 bay leaves, powdered

3 onions, peeled and sliced

zest of 1 lemon (optional)

6 rashers streaky bacon, diced

2 squares  of 70% dark chocolate

2 tablespoons tomato purée

10 clove heads, crushed

olive oil, flour, salt and pepper

 

Marinate the hare overnight in the wine with the brandy, garlic, bay leaves, onions, lemon zest and a good dollop of olive oil. Remove the hare pieces from the marinade and dry with kitchen towels. Put 6 tbsp flour in a plastic bag with salt and pepper, add the hare pieces and shake to coat. Fry the bacon in some olive oil and reserve. Brown the hare pieces on both sides and reserve.  Add the marinade to the pan, scraping up the residue of flour, and bring gently to a simmer. Add the tomato purée, chocolate and clove heads and stir until it is all melted together. Put the hare and bacon in an oven-proof casserole, pour the marinade over the top, and season with salt and pepper. Cover well with foil and a lid and cook for three hours in an oven preheated to 300º C/gas mark 3. Serve with mashed potato.