Last weekend I was down at Julian Temperley’s cider farm in Somerset, where I spotted a couple of wild rabbits hanging up in the barn. They’d been given to him by a neighbour and were destined for the cooking pot, alongside what else but Julian’s own cider.
We lit up a fire by his log cabin and cooked the dish from start to finish using something of a unconventional setup. A series of horseshoes sat on a cast-iron tripod, atop which we could sit the cooking pots at different distances above the fire. It was rudimentary but made for a perfect setting, made all the more pleasant by the company of the rest of the Temperley family.
Rabbit makes fantastic eating, especially when cooked slowly in good and proper farmhouse cider. I often whip the fillets off and use them quickly cooked in a salad as it's a bit of a waste slow cooking the tender bits. For the cost of a rabbit you'll get two or three meals out of it. And who knows, you may even end up being converted from chicken.
Wild rabbit cooked in cider
- 40g flour, plus more for dusting
- 12 rabbit legs (back legs only), halved at the joint
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper
- Vegetable oil, for frying
- 1 onion, peeled and roughly chopped
- 25g butter
- 400ml dry cider
- 750ml chicken stock, or a good-quality chicken stock cube dissolved in that amount of hot water
- 3 tablespoons double cream
- 1 tablespoon chopped parsley
- Lightly flour the rabbit legs and season with them salt and pepper. Heat some vegetable oil in a frying pan and lightly brown the rabbit legs on both sides, then drain on some kitchen paper.
- In a heavy-based saucepan, gently cook the onion in the butter until soft. Add the flour and stir well. Gradually add the cider, stirring well to avoid any lumps forming, then add the chicken stock. Bring to the boil, add the rabbit legs and lightly season with a little more salt and pepper. Simmer gently, covered with a lid, for 11/4 hours, or until the rabbit is tender.
- Remove the legs with a slotted spoon and set side. Add the cream to the cooking liquor and continue to simmer until the sauce has thickened. Put the legs back into the sauce with the chopped parsley and bring back to the boil.
- Serve with some good mashed potato or a mashed root vegetable.