Got you, you wabbit stew, you.
That's a quote from Elmer Fudd, and he's read my mind. I love all types of meat, and after I tried rabbit for the first time, I'm now a big fan of it. I've tried rabbit at restaurants in simple stews, as roasts and as part of very complex dishes. The meat is beautiful and has a slight game flavour to it. I've never cooked rabbit before so when I saw that John Cester's Poultry and Game at the Prahran Market had rabbit, I knew I had to make it. It coincided with my newly acquired Greg and Lucy Malouf book "Malouf", where there was an amazing looking recipe for rabbit stew.
I shopped my way through the Prahran Market to get all my required ingredients, including chorizo at Chaso's Gourmet Deli and all the required herbs, vegetables and spices.
The rabbit stew was extremely easy to make. It follows the same cooking sequence as a lot of other stews. You brown the meat, add the vegetables to sweat them a little, deglaze the pot, add the rest of the wet ingredients and back. I used my Le Creuset oven so that I could cook it all in one pot. So convenient and easy.
The recipe uses 1kg of rabbit, which is about one farmed rabbit or slightly more than one wild rabbit. I decided to buy the wild rabbits, which weighed about 800g. As I wanted to eat lots of rabbit, I cooked two and doubled the ingredients. The time to cook one serve is about an hour but I found it took nearly three hours to cook double the amount. I'd suggest turning up the oven heat to 200C if you are going to cook double the amount like me. Just check the pot every once in a while to see when the rabbit meat is tender and falling off the bone.
The stew was really delicious. You'll have to trust me as it's very hard to make brown meat look tasty in a photo. The rabbit was very lean but still tender and fell off the bones, of which there are a lot so you need to be careful eating it. The beans, mushrooms and chorizo combine really well with the tomato. I was worried the juniper berries and sage would be too overpowering but they weren't and really enhanced the dish. My favourite thing is the bursts of beautiful flavour from the whole garlic that get thrown in. I ate the stew with some crispy bread, which was perfect for mopping up the delicious sauce.
100g white bean, soaked overnight in 2-3 times their volume of cold water
1kg rabbit hind legs cuts in half, or rabbit pieces
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
60ml olive oil
1 tablespoon honey diluted with 1 tablespoon hot water
120g small button mushrooms, stalks trimmed
6 cloves garlic
200g semi-dried chorizo sausages cut into 1cm discs
100ml white wine
2 large ripe tomatoes (or 1 x 400g can), skinned, seeded and chopped
12 fresh sage leaves
1/2 teaspoon juniper berries, lightly cracked
zest of 1/2 orange
500ml good quality chicken stock
freshly ground black pepper
1. Cook beans in boiling water until just tender and then drain water off.
2. Preheat oven to 180C.
3. Season rabbit lightly with salt and pepper.
4. In a large ovenproof casserole dish, brown the pieces of rabbit.
5. When rabbit pieces are brown, turn up heat and pour in the honey glaze and saute for 30 more seconds until mixture caramelises.
7. Add the whole shallots, mushrooms, garlic and chorizo pieces and saute for 2 minutes, covering everything in the glaze.
8. Add the white wine and stir to lift golden bits stuck to the bottom of the pan.
9. Add the beans, chopped tomatoes, sage leaves, juniper berries, orange zest and chicken stock. Season with pepper.
10. Bring to the boil the cover the surface of the casserole with a circle of baking paper and cover with the lid.
12. Remove from oven and check the rabbit is tender and the meat is beginning to fall off the bone. Return to the oven and cook for a further 20 minutes.
13. Serve the rabbit in a bowl, making sure to get a bit of everything.