Sunday, 12 February 2012

Run rabbit, run rabbit, run, run, run...

Baked Pasta with Rabbit
Run rabbit – run rabbit – Run! Run! Run!
Don't give the farmer his fun! Fun! Fun!
He'll get by
Without his rabbit pie
So run rabbit – run rabbit – Run! Run! Run

The conversation goes a little like this....

“Why don’t people eat more rabbit? It’s not like there’s a shortage of bunnies?”

“Three reasons – eww, how could you, bunnies are cute; never tried rabbit, so will stick to nice safe steak; and ‘oh, it’s so cruel to shoot and eat wild animals.”

(There’s a fourth reason if you’re Jewish – rabbit isn’t kosher).

Now I like rabbit – it’s lean, full of flavour and carries a sauce very well. Plus it’s usually pretty cheap – posh rabbits from Bolton Abbey estate are £4.50 in Cullingworth’s butcher and I’d lay a bet that you can get them cheaper than that in Bradford’s John Street Market.

Plus, of course, if you can shoot and have a landowner’s permission, you can go and get your own!

So there you are, dead bunny in hand (skinned and cleaned by a helpful butcher in our case) – what to make? Pies and stews are the classics but, for a change, try doing it Italian-style.

Lorenza De’Medici published a book on pasta and accompanying sauces including several recipes for rabbit and I’ve stolen the approach from her (although the actual recipe is not the same).

Baked Pasta with Rabbit (to feed six - or four greedy folk)

One rabbit (cut into sections)
Two medium onions roughly chopped
Three or four good sized carrots thickly sliced
Two good sized sprigs of sage
Large glass of red wine
Pennoni rigati (about 300g)
Pint of white sauce
Couple of fresh tomatoes
Black pepper
Olive oil

Heat the oil and brown the rabbit pieces and soften the onions and carrots then transfer to a roasting tray. Roughly chop the sage over the rabbit and vegetables and pour the red wine over the top. Cover tightly with foil and slow roast for about 3 hours at 100° (we want the rabbit to fall off the bones easily without being too dry – it’s worth checking after a couple of hours).

Strip the rabbit meat from the skeleton – you want it to be quite finely shredded so pull apart the meat as you take it off the bones. Mix the meat back into the vegetables and set aside.

Cook the pasta for half its recommended time (typically about 5 minutes in salted boiling water), drain and mix thoroughly with the meat and vegetables. Turn this mixture into an over proof dish.

Make the white sauce and pour it over the top of the rabbit and pasta mixture. Decorate with slices of tomato and bake for 35-40 minutes at 200° (180° in a fan oven). You’ll know it’s done when the top has begun to brown a little and is bubbling.



1 comment:

nisakiman said...

Ah, rabbit! Here in Greece, it's common to find rabbit stifado in the better (that doesn't mean expensive) restaurants. Baby onions cooked in a red wine sauce stewed with newly killed rabbit,fresh vegetables and fresh bread, washed down with copious amounts of local red wine - ahhhh - bliss...