It’s hard to drive about the countryside early in the morning or at dusk without seeing a rabbit scamper into cover before your wheels. To many, the rabbit will be for ever associated with the anthropomorphized creations of Beatrix Potter & Richard Adams. Some people even keep them as pets. They are, after all superficially attractive, being furry, with floppy ears and a fluffy tail. This domestic status could be one of the reasons for its lack of popularity.
However to a lot of country people it is perplexing why rabbit is not more popular as food. It is plentiful, very inexpensive, low in fat, eats extremely well and lives on a largely free range diet when not hammering commercial crops (perhaps here viewed as vermin is another possible reservation for its lack of popularity amongst some).
Rabbits have always been widely available as food but never more so than now. Easily obtained from decent butchers, farmers markets and even supermarkets. That is if you don’t fancy either shooting or ferreting one yourself!
Generally (but not exclusively) supermarket rabbit should be avoided as they frequently offer foreign farmed rabbit. This tends to be white, bland tasting meat. Hence the popular but misconceived association of rabbit with the flavour of chicken. Wrong! It’s far tastier than that
Source your rabbit meat carefully and you will not be disappointed.
Rabbit is most famously either casseroled or cooked in a pie with other game.
Here though is a recipe that is incredibly easy to prepare, delicious and will feed four people on one rabbit.
This recipe is based on one by the greatly admired Antonio Carluccio. Wild rabbit is very popular in Italy, where it is surprisingly scarce.
Pre-heat your oven to 200 deg C (gas Mark 6). Joint the rabbit into 6 pieces (4 legs and saddle in two). Or dare I say it, ask your butcher to do it for you.
Thinly slice two onions and also half a dozen waxy potatoes.
Add the rabbit, onions and potatoes to an ovenproof dish and pour over a generous glug of oil.
Then add a handful each of pitted olives and cherry tomatoes, together with a red pepper cut into strips.
Mix the ingredients well so they get well acquainted and then shove into the oven for 30 minutes.
After half an hour, remove from the oven and turn everything so that all is evenly cooked. Shove back in the oven for another 30 minutes, after which time it will be ready.
Enjoy with a salad, crusty bread and a bottle of ballsy red.