Why don’t we eat more rabbit? It’s cheap, flavoursome, versatile and makes for a surprisingly fine supper…from a cook’s point of view, it’s another of those fabulous ingredients that also lend themselves well to so many other flavours and combinations.
I have to admit that I’m a big fan of rabbit and my grandmother would cook it from time to time when I was kid. It’s a very healthy, lean meat as it has very little fat content but its leanness is very often its downfall, as it sometimes tends to dry out too quickly, especially when roasting & grilling.
That is why the meat is generally more successful when wrapped in bacon, Serrano ham or stewed slowly in a delicious sauce.
The Spanish seem to adore rabbit and you will find it some of Spain’s most treasured dishes including the much-maligned “Paella”. Every region has its different specialities and in Majorca, “conejo ecebollado”(stewed rabbit with onions) is a delicious favourite and it also flavours the classic “arroz brut” as well as various other rice dishes.
Most traditional Majorcan restaurants will also feature “gazapo”(baby rabbit) and it is often served with snails in “conejo con caracoles”. I think it is perfect fried with garlic and parsley “al ajillo” style but my favourite spanish-style recipes include “conejo con salmorejo”(Salmorejo is a marinade as well as a sauce and gives the rabbit plenty of flavour before being grilled) and a popular dish called “conejo con pisto”. Pisto is basically a spanish type ratatouille and it is delicious served with white meats and all types of fish.
The French also love rabbit with mustard, white wine and tarragon. Tarragon is my default herb with this meat, but lemon thyme, rosemary, sage, chervil; chives and basil are appropriate, too. Basically, if it’s good with chicken then the chances are it will work with rabbit. It is also one of those meats that are perfect for barbecues when simply brushed with olive oil, garlic and thyme or spiced up a bit with harrisa or a little curry powder.
Just be careful not to overcook it. Although some people have a certain reticence to try this versatile, light and often tender meat, it is something I often cook at home for guests where they have no choice but to eat it or go without. No one has yet said they didn’t enjoy it…so invite a few friends over and give it a go.
Rabbit with Tarragon & Mustard Sauce
You will probably get the kidneys with your rabbit. It is your choice whether to keep them or not. I always do as rabbit kidneys are mild in flavour and add something different in this dish. If you choose to use them, strip off all the fat, as well as the membrane that surrounds them.
- 1 rabbit, cut into serving pieces
- 2 tbsp butter
- 2tbsp olive oil
- 2 garlic cloves, crushed
- 2 large shallots, chopped
- 300ml dry white wine
- 75ml brandy
- 300ml chicken stock
- 1 tsp chopped thyme
- 2 tbsp French grain mustard
- 4 tbsp chopped tarragon
- 250ml cream
- Juice of ½ lemon
Sprinkle rabbit pieces with salt and pepper. Heat the olive oil and butter over medium heat in a large sauté pan. Add the rabbit pieces and brown them in the oil and butter on both sides. Once the rabbit pieces are browned, remove them to a bowl. Add the chopped shallots, fresh thyme and garlic cloves to the pan and cook until softened.
Pour in the brandy, white wine and chicken stock and bring to the boil. Add the mustard, stir well and add the rabbit pieces and kidneys. Cover with a lid and simmer gently for 30 minutes. Remove the lid and add the cream. Cook and reduce the sauce until it thickens and lightly coats the rabbit. Add the chopped tarragon, lemon juice and season to taste. Serve immediately.
Conejo con Salmorejo
- 1 whole rabbit(cut into pieces)
For the marinade:
- 1 garlic clove(crushed)
- 100ml olive oil
- 1tspn. Fresh rosemary (finely chopped)
- 2 bay leaves
- 2tspn’s paprika
- 1tbsp. Dry white wine
Mix all the ingredients of the marinade in a large bowl and add the rabbit pieces. Mix well and place in the fridge for at least 2-3 hours.Remove the rabbit pieces from the marinade and reserve it for the sauce. Heat a little olive oil in a frying pan and fry the rabbit pieces for 10-15 minutes until just cooked. Add the marinade and season to taste. Serve with boiled new potatoes and a big green salad.
- 1 whole rabbit(cut into small pieces)
- 2 large Spanish onions (sliced)
- 2garlic cloves(crushed)
- 150ml olive oil
- 200ml dry white wine
- 3tpsn’s sherry vinegar
- Sprig of fresh thyme
Heat the olive oil in a heavy-bottomed saucepan and add the onions. Cook over a gentle flame, stirring with a wooden spoon, without colouring the onions for 3-4 minutes until they start to soften. Add the crushed garlic, the sprig of thyme and the rabbit pieces and stir well with the wooden spoon to coat the meat. Add the dry white wine, sherry vinegar and cover with a lid. Cook slowly over a gentle flame for 25-30 minutes, stirring occasionally. Season with salt and pepper and serve.
Balsamic glazed Rabbit with Sun-dried Tomatoes, Basil and Olive Oil Potatoes
- 8 Rabbit pieces
- 1 carrot (chopped)
- 1 onion (chopped)
- 1 celery stalk (chopped)
- 6 tbsp. Olive oil
- 6 tbsp.balsamic vinegar
- 2 tbsp.sugar
- 150ml dry white wine
- 400ml chicken stock
- 120g sun dried tomatoes, chopped
- 32 black olives, stoned
- 12 basil leaves, torn
- Salt and pepper
Season the rabbit with salt and pepper. In a large saucepan, brown the rabbit pieces in olive oil. Add vinegar and sugar and toss to coat. Add the vegetables and cook out until light brown. Pour over all the white wine. Boil and reduce until all the liquid has gone. Add chicken stock turn down the heat and simmer for about 15 minutes. Stir in the tomatoes, olives and basil, season and serve.
Olive Oil Potatoes
- 900g potatoes, peeled and quartered
- 60g butter
- 100ml virgin olive oil
Boil the potatoes in salted water until cooked, about 15 min., drain well. Pass through a potato masher. Add the rest of the ingredients and serve.