We have a plentiful supply of rabbit meat. Perhaps a little too plentiful when we’re eating it every day. Many of my friends are aghast that we eat rabbits. I’m not sure if it’s because they think of rabbits as cute, furry pets or as inedible vermin. Whichever, it seems a little irrational to shun a lean, free-range meat like wild rabbit.
If you can get hold of some wild rabbit, then I urge you to give it a try. There are plenty of places online to buy as well as butchers and some supermarkets. I like to make a few jars of potted rabbit and rabbit liver pate (using a recipe for chicken liver pate). Mostly, I use the jointed rabbits to make casseroles, pies and curries or strip the meat from the bones and mince it with bacon or belly pork to make meatballs. There are plenty of recipes around for rabbit though I find that wild rabbits often need a longer cooking time than that given for farmed rabbit.
Two of my favourite rabbit recipes are Delia Smith’s Old English Rabbit Pie and Roasted Wild Rabbit and Bacon. Rabbit also makes a good curry and I often use it to replace the chicken in Anjum Anand’s Black Pepper Chicken recipe in her Indian Every Day book, though I put it in a slow oven for at least two hours rather than simmer for a short while on the hob.
Mostly though I cook my Store Cupboard Game recipe, which also works well with venison and hare. This is one of those adaptable recipes where you use what’s to hand. Add a few cubes of bacon or ham or squeeze in some tomato puree. A couple of squares of dark chocolate give a little oomph or replace the herbs with spices and add some chickpeas to bring out different flavours.
Store Cupboard Rabbit Casserole
Joint your rabbit and cut the back into two pieces or three if the rabbit is large.
Heat a large knob of butter in an ovenproof pan and fry a sliced onion (with chopped garlic, celery and carrots if available) until softened.
Add the rabbit joints and cook for five or ten minutes until they’re lightly browned.
Stir in 60ml vermouth (or 125ml of wine), a can of tomatoes and enough water (or stock) to almost cover the rabbit.
Add a scattering of thyme leaves (or dried oregano), a grinding of salt and pepper, cover with the lid and put into a low oven (150C) for at least three hours by which time the meat will be falling off the bones.
When the cooking time is up, lift the meat and vegetables onto a serving dish (discarding any loose bone) and boil the liquid on the hotplate until reduced and thickened.