A few weeks ago at the Aldeburgh Food and Drink Festival we bought a jointed wild rabbit from Suffolk meat and game suppliers the Wild Meat Company and popped it in the freezer, promising ourselves that we'd cook up a warming casserole or stew once the winter weather kicked in. After a crisp, cold afternoon out enjoying the beautiful winter sunshine in Cambridge on Saturday, we decided a rich, slow-cooked rabbit stew was just what we needed this weekend. Known for his prowess at pulling together French bistro-style dishes at short notice (remember the famous Toulouse cassoulet?), I left The Boy in charge while I enjoyed a few cocktails with the girls and here's what he came up with...
1 whole wild rabbit, jointed
Bacon - we used juniper smoked back bacon from M&S Food
Salt & pepper
What to do:
1. Slice the bacon into chunky lardons and fry off in a large heavy-bottomed frying pan with a lid. Add butter, crushed garlic and diced onion and fry until golden.
2. Add the pieces of rabbit and brown off on all sides, turning frequently. When light golden in colour, sprinkle plain flour on each piece of meat and continue to turn in the pan to coat. The garlic, onion, bacon and butter will start to thicken slightly.
3. Season and add a generous sprinkling of dried thyme and dried parsley to the pan. Turn again to coat then add about 200ml of red wine and top up with beef stock to cover the meat. Add a couple of bay leaves and cover the pan.
4. Reduce the heat to a low simmer and leave the rabbit to slowly cook through for 2 hours. Check and stir occasionally to avoid the mixture sticking to the pan. Serve with mashed or dauphinoise potatoes and vegetables.
The bacon added a lovely smoky and fruity warmth to the thick, meaty gravy and the rabbit meat was tender and full of flavour. All in all, a great seasonal supper.