Game for the Pot : Rabbit
Rabbits originate from theWest Mediterranean. They were introduced intoBritainby the Romans and theNormansto provide meat and fur, but are now widespread throughoutBritainandIreland.
In the UK rabbits are considered a pest as they eat crops and large areas of pasture meant for farm animals. However, in the rest of Europe the rabbit is a highly prized game species. Rabbits in southern Europe live on rocky mountainous ground and tend to eat wild herbs that flavour their meat. These European rabbits are much smaller than our rabbits in the UK with the European species weighing in at around 1kg and the British rabbits reaching 1.5kg and above. Wild rabbit should not be confused with domesticated hutch rabbits that have a distinctly different flavour. Here is a jointed rabbit recipe that can also be done with diced rabbit. You can find rabbit in butchers and some supermarkets.
Rabbit al Ajillo
A very simple rabbit dish from Southern Spain containing dry white wine, garlic and thyme. During my holidays to Spain I watched my aunt prepare this dish using rabbits shot by my uncle and I. We would go off on a Saturday morning before light to the hilly hunting grounds just outside thevillageofCastellarinAndalusia. The day was spent working dogs over semi arid hill land looking for rabbits that would then be flushed out to the waiting Guns. Then around midday we would return home with our bag of rabbits and the following day the whole family would come to my uncle’s house to eat a feast of rabbit served with large platters of thinly cut chips fried in olive oil, fresh beef tomato and red onion salad, marinated olives, fresh warm bread and a whole host of other dishes to accompany this fantastic main course.
2 Jointed rabbits
1 Head of garlic
1 Chicken stock cube mixed with 250ml boiling water
Good sprig of fresh thyme
1 bottle white wine
2 large tablespoons of vegetable oil
3 large tablespoons of virgin olive oil
1) Season the rabbit with salt and pepper.
2) In a large pan heat both oils together.
3) Break up the head of garlic into cloves, then hit each clove to split them but do not remove the skin.
4) Add the garlic to the oil once it is hot. Fry the garlic until it is golden brown then remove and set aside.
5) Once the oil is hot again add the rabbit and fry to seal the meat on all sides.
6) When the meat is sealed add the garlic back into the pan then add the wine, the chicken stock and the thyme.
7) Allow this to come to boil then place a lid onto the pan. The lid should sit slightly ajar so that some of the steam from the boiling liquid can escape.
8) Turn the heat down and allow to simmer and reduce for about 45 min to 1 hour or until rabbit legs are tender.
9) Once the rabbit is cooked remove from the liquid and place in a serving bowl and allow the liquid to reduce a little more if needed.
10) Remove the garlic skins from the sauce, pour over rabbit, serve and enjoy.