Sicilian rabbit

Poor little bunnies.  I love’em in the pot best. Especially the ones brought to me by the postman (no he doesn’t post them through the letterbox, but he does check whether I am up for a rabbit or two occasionally. Or a brace of pigeon. Or partridge).  Although Richard is pretty handy too, one evening we were having supper at his mum’s, he came in as we happened to be talking about rabbit.  Do you want a rabbit then Dawn? said he. Always up for a rabbit Richard, say’s me.  Next minute there’s a great ‘kabooof’ outside (Richard with his shooting thingy) and five minutes later he presents me with two skinned and gutted rabbits in a Tesco carrier bag.  Can’t say fairer than that.

Hey ho. This rabbit is adapted from an old recipe by one of my favourite cooks Claudia Roden.  Take just one rabbit.  Joint it into two front and two rear legs and split the saddle in half. So by my counting you should have six pieces of rabbit. Put in a large dish with four chopped garlic cloves, one chopped onion, 6-8 chopped sage leaves and a few sprigs of rosemary.  Grind 6 juniper berries with a pestle, add salt and black pepper and about 60ml olive oil and a good slug of red wine.  Use all these ingredients to marinate the rabbit overnight -. ie mix them in with the rabbit, cover with cling film and leave it a while.

Next day, remove the rabbit from the marinade and dry off on kitchen towel.  Put 3 tbs plain flour seasoned with salt into a clean dry bowl and flour each joint individually, knock off most of the flour and put back on the kitchen towel.

Take 30ml olive oil and put in a shallow pan, heat till smoking then fry each rabbit joint on both sides till browned. If you fat is hot enough, it should take no more than two minutes each side. Remove and drain (on same kitchen towel!)

Don’t clean the pan whatever you do and in the same pan, add another chopped onion and fry till soft, then add the remaining flour  from the bowl you used to flour the rabbit joints, stir round a bit, then add the  juices you used to marinate the rabbit plus 300ml red wine and 150ml water.  Nothing wasted. Pour all these into a saucepan big enough to take the rabbit joints and the sauce.  Add the rabbit. Add 6 prunes, 6 chopped black olives. Maybe a spicy Meguez sausage or six. (my favourites are from The Paddocks Butchery – who also do great rabbit and game by the way – they will have their own special page later in the year, so watch this space)  Bring to the boil then turn down the heat and simmer for 20 minutes.  At this stage the sauce will still be quite thin but don’t despair.  At the 20 minute point, add 30ml white wine vinegar and 1 tbsp sugar and about 20g pine nuts.  Bring to the boil again and boil vigorously for one minute, then stir again and continue to cook on a gentle heat for a further hour. By the end of the cooking period, the sauce will be dark and glossy, thick and intense with juniper, herbs and rabbit.

You could serve it with bread or tiny new potatoes roasted in butter and garlic shavings.

Tonight I served it with chard and chopped tomatoes and peas from the garden, generously flavoured with chopped mint, flatleaf parsley, mixed with mougrabieh (giant couscous).

Poor little bunnies.

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