Cooking is surely one of the pleasures I look forward to. To me, it is the perfect opportunity to take your mind off life’s petty distractions, stresses, or complications. Yes, I guess cooking for a lot of people is a kind of meditation (myself included), and it’s exactly why I get so much out of it. So let me invite you to think about making space in your life for yourself and perhaps even a little room for others. The dining table is a wonderful mediator for connection, and the kitchen is a great place to start building the happiness.
Slow Cooked Rabbit in Onions
6 medium sized brown onions, peeled, halved, and sliced into 1cm pieces
6 cloves of garlic, peeled and squished under a knife
2 carrots, peeled and sliced into 2mm thick semi-circle pieces
a bouquet garni of thyme and bay leaf
4tbsp apple cider vinegar
salted butter for frying
1tbsp coarsely ground pepper
sea salt for seasoning
1 small bunch of flat leaf parsley, chopped finely
Firstly, you will have to section your rabbit into pieces. Start with the hind legs. Take both in one hand, and bend them towards the head until you hear a cracking sound at the backbone. Use a sharp boning knife to cut where you heard the crack, and there you have taken the hind legs off the rabbit. Separate the hind legs with a cut down the middle. To take the front legs off your rabbit, you will need to run your fingers up from the foot until you reach the joint that holds the leg to the body. Pull the leg upwards to snap it off its socket and cut it off where you heard the snap. Do the same for the other side. Pull out the liver, kidneys, and any fat that you find in the rabbit’s crevice. Cut off any skirting if it exists on either side of the stomach (just below the ribcage) and reserve it for flavouring your braise. Now find where the ribcage ends and where the ‘saddle begins’ (hint, it’s the opposite end from the head). You will need to bend the rabbit at the point where rib cage meets saddle so to snap the backbone into two. Cut at the snap and discard your ribcage. You will now need to cut your saddle in half by snapping it in half at the back bone just as before. And now you have perfect morsels for eating.
Preheat your oven to 175 degrees celcius and make space on the middle rack. Heat a deep, heavy cast iron pan or casserole dish (something that can go over the fire and into the oven with a tight lid) on a high heat. Add a generous knob of butter (think a 2cm cube or so) and let it melt before lowering in your rabbit pieces one by one to brown. Make sure to never overcrowd your pan and if need be you can do two rounds of browning – no rush ! Don’t move the pieces around the pan, just let them do their thing for a good few minutes on each side so that they have a delicious crispy brown outer layer that will give lots of flavour to your dish. Once browned on all sides, move onto a side plate.
Take out any burnt bits from your oil and slide in your onions, garlic, and the bouquet garni. Sauté until they are shiny and becoming translucent before adding the carrots and pepper. Continue to cook, adding more butter to the pan if it gets too dry, and when the carrots soften, push everything to one side before ‘deglazing the pan’ with the apple cider vinegar. They call it deglazing because the acidity lifts all of those delicious brown bits that are stuck to the bottom of the pan. This will later be your sauce, in the form of a wonderfully sophisticated jus. Add the rabbit back to the pan, and add water until the pieces are just submerged. Make sure all your pieces are well distributed around the pan, then close the lid and slide it into the oven on the middle rack.
Time 1 hour 30 minutes on the clock, and make sure to check your braise every 30mins. Meanwhile, you can prepare your accompaniments like mashed potatoes, blanched green beans with a vinaigrette, buttered pasta, or perhaps even some saffron rice.
When you are satisfied with the thickness of the sauce, and the softness of your rabbit (just test by sticking a knife into the meat to see if it falls off the bone) then take it out of the oven, and season to taste with your sea salt before serving.
This is a recipe developed, cooked, and shot by Lauren Yates.