When my butcher recently let me know they would be getting fresh rabbits I was a little hesitant. Not only had I never cooked a rabbit before I had never even eaten rabbit before. When I lived in Scotland it wasn’t uncommon to see rabbit on a menu (or on a cookery show) but I had never actually ventured down the rabbit role. After a few minutes debating I decided I would give it a try. A. assured me it was delicious and she was never wrong 😉 Plus it seemed like a recipe search would be the mindless distraction this past week called for.
Once I finally worked up the nerve to tell T. we’d be having rabbit over the weekend he wasn’t overly enthused. I suppose fair enough BUT being the good prairie boy that he is he really should be fine with a little rabbit – no??
I decided that I would play it safe when cooking the rabbit and stick with flavors we like. Initially I thought I would play it very safe and classic with a recipe for braised rabbit from Julia Child. I was actually very stuck on various versions of rabbit in a mustard sauce, but since T. was already uncertain about the rabbit I wasn’t going to push it too much with cooking it in a mustard sauce. Another great contradiction as he hails from the land of the mustard seed, the largest producer in the world and does not like it! After some time looking at various recipes I came across Tuscan Rabbit with Pancetta and Rosemary on taste.com.au – honestly I’m sure why this site hasn’t made it onto my usual rotation of recipe websites yet, it is a great collection of Australia’s top food magazines that I highly recommend checking out.
Like my other experiments within unfamiliar meats (see pork jowls & cheeks) the rabbit pulled me out of my comfort zone and challenged me. I wouldn’t say the recipe I choose was particularly difficult I was just uncertain about the cook of the meat and did not want to end up with a tough, chewy mess for dinner. In the end the rosemary, tomatoes and bacon (yes I used bacon instead of pancetta) smelled amazing as this cooked. With a simple parmesan polenta it was a delicious meal that would be great on a family table – just tell the picky eaters it’s little chickens! I’d definitely recommend this dish as a great introduction to rabbit.
I served mine with polenta, but this would be equally as good with crusty bread and a green salad.
PS T’s reaction.. “this is much better than I thought it would be”.. high praise I suppose!
- 1.6kg whole rabbit, jointed or cut into 8 pieces – ask your butcher to do this
- 2 tbs plain flour, seasoned
- 1/4 cup olive oil
- 1 tsp fennel seeds
- 2 onions, finely chopped
- 6 slices flat pancetta, chopped
- 4 garlic cloves, chopped
- 1 cup white wine
- 1/3 cup balsamic vinegar
- 400g can chopped tomatoes
- 400g can cherry tomatoes
- 2 rosemary sprigs, leaves chopped
- 2 tbs chopped flat-leaf parsley
- Preheat oven to 350 F
- Dust rabbit in flour, shaking off excess.
- Heat 2 tbs oil in a frypan over medium heat and cook rabbit, in batches, for 2 minutes each side or until golden. Place in a baking dish.
- Heat remaining 1 tbs oil and cook fennel, onion, pancetta and garlic, stirring, for 3-4 minutes until soft and golden. Add wine and the vinegar, and simmer for 3-4 minutes until reduced by half. Add tomatoes and rosemary, season and bring to the boil.
- Pour over rabbit, cover and cook for 1 1/4 hours or until rabbit is tender.
- Toss through chopped parsley