Our friendly local farmer, Trevor, has just dropped a load of rabbits round to the farm shop. They would make a delicious rabbit stew, and we have a yummy recipe with olives and rosemary below. They have been skinned and will be prepared by Gavin ready for the pot. You can ask for them whole or in portions.
Wild rabbit is very lean, slightly gamey and extremely versatile. The saddle can be pan fried, although the leg needs longer cooking and is better in a stew or casserole.
Although farmed rabbit is larger and fattier (bred in France), it is normally kept in conditions that would give battery chickens a run for their money, so unless you know the welfare standards, I would stick to wild rabbit if you can. Our wild rabbit is completely sustainable and the food miles depend on how far you live from the shop!
Rabbit used to be eaten regularly but went out of fashion after the Second World War with its associations with food shortages. It is still popular on the continent – with the French pairing rabbit with mustard and cream, the Italians going for herbs and tomato – but it also works well with chilli. During this warm weather I’m more tempted by the herby Italian recipes such as
Rabbit Stew with Olives and Rosemary
- 1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- Two 3-pound rabbits, each cut into 10 pieces (see Note)
- Salt and freshly ground pepper
- 1 cup dry red wine
- 1 onion, finely chopped
- 1 carrot, finely chopped
- 2 celery ribs, finely chopped
- 2 tablespoons tomato paste
- 4 rosemary sprigs, tied into 2 bundles with kitchen string
- 4 cups chicken stock or low-sodium broth
- 1/2 pound Niçoise olives (1 1/2 cups)
Brown the seasoned rabbit pieces in small batches with hot oil in a heavy casserole dish, then put to one side. Add the wine and deglaze the pan and put with the rabbit. Now add the remaining oil and cook the onion, carrot and celery over a medium heat until softened. Add the tomato paste and rosemary for a further 5 minutes before adding the rabbit and wine and cooking for a further three minutes. Then add two cups of stock, bring to the boil, cover and then lower the temperature and simmer for 30 minutes. Finally add the rest of the stock and the olives, reduce the sauce and serve once the rabbit is tender (another 20 minutes or so). Discard the rosemary and serve.