Monday, March 24, 2008

the Easter Bunny dies for our sins, and is promptly eaten by me

Haven't done a recipe for a while, so here goes.

Rabbit Casserole

I learnt this from my mother many years ago, but I have a feeling it may have been a Delia Smith recipe originally. It's not listed on her website, though she does have a few ideas for big-eared lagomorphs.

First, catch your rabbit. If that sounds like a lot of unnecessary hard work, buy some. You used to be able to get rabbit joints or occasionally bagged up diced rabbit from Waitrose and sometimes from Sainsbury's, but I haven't seen any of the high-street supermarkets selling it for a while now. However, we were in the covered market in the centre of Newport on Saturday and we discovered that the excellent D Cueto Butchers stocks whole rabbits. Great big fresh juicy ones, too, with (it turned out) the innards still in.

Before any cooking can commence, the rabbits need preparing. This is not for the faint-hearted or squeamish, so it's a good test of whether you're a "proper" carnivore or not. If you have an attack of the vapours at having to snap backbones with a meat cleaver or pull kidneys out with your bare hands, consider switching to a primarily cheese sandwich-based diet. Us hardcore types do it with a fairly severe red wine and port hangover as well, just to test ourselves. Here's an in-progress shot:

You see what I mean about fresh. For anyone who isn't a student of anatomy: heart at the top just by the ribs, liver in the middle, kidneys at the bottom. And here's a nice pile of portioned-up rabbit (given a quick rinse as well to get the last few bits of fur off) ready for the pot.

Now for the rest of the ingredients. And here they are (except the bacon which I only remembered at the last minute):

So that's:
  • a couple of onions
  • some garlic (mine is the lazy variety out of a jar; obviously fresh is better if you can be arsed)
  • some mushrooms
  • some decent mustard (Maille Dijon as pictured is excellent) - a generous teaspoon or so is all you need
  • some herbs - sage is pretty much compulsory; I bunged a bit of thyme in as well
  • some juniper berries, crushed; the best way is gently but firmly with a meat-tenderising hammer on a chopping board. A rolling pin is an alternative, but you do tend to get a bit of tiddlywinks-style action going on whereby the berries fire across the room and break windows. You want about 20-30 of them for a big casserole (two whole rabbits), less for a smaller one or it'll just taste like you've boiled everything in neat gin.
  • two cans of cider. As I don't drink the stuff these are just some leftovers from a party. Strictly some decent scrumpy would be better than Magners ersatz "traditional" Irish cider lovingly brewed in a million-gallon vat in a missile silo on the outskirts of Dublin, or possibly Birmingham, but this was all I had in the house. Again, one can would probably do normally, but I had a lot of rabbit.
  • Salt & pepper
Ingredients not pictured:
  • Some bacon (half a packet or so)
  • Some chicken stock. Or vegetable, it's up to you.
Right, so: chop up and fry the onions, bacon and garlic. Dust the dismembered rabbit bits in some flour and throw them in. Add the juniper berries, herbs and a good grind of black pepper at this point as well. Cook for a few minutes then (before it all starts to stick to the pan) pour in the cider and the stock, which you've stirred the mustard into to dissolve it. Chop up the mushrooms and add them as well. Here's what you end up with:

All you have to do now is turn the heat right down, pop a lid on, and go away and do something else for 2-3 hours. Then cook up something to go with it (mash is good) and eat:


everlands said...

  ... or it'll just taste like you've boiled everything in neat gin ...

Just to be clear, this is a bad thing, yes?

electrichalibut said...

To be honest I've never tried it, so I couldn't say, but I would imagine so, yes. You certainly wouldn't want to spark up a fag while you were cooking, or you could take the whole kitchen out.

The Black Rabbit said...

I trust the actual (Rhodesism) (a bit like Dhalism, but more annoying) guts of the rabbits had already been removed by the butcher - (or dealer), because thats the bit that some people find a bit off-putting... you know expelling the urine from your warm rabbit!
Not to mention the fact that if the rabbit had been shot (and not snared), there would be a very real risk of quick spoiling, or as we 'ere say round these 'ere parrz, "spoilage".

I assume you had only the "upstairs lights" left in your wabbitto deal with then?

My father used to kill rabbits by biting them on the back of the heid.
One bit back once - you can see the marks on my father's nose to this day.

electrichalibut said...

Yes, well obviously there's guts and there's guts. These were pretty much yer standard giblets, nothing too faecal to deal with. I suspect most people would have the instinctive "ick" reaction to any innards, though, crazy as it sounds.

And they'd been shot, but it was all tidied up quite neatly - no crunchy bits of lead shot to take your teeth out on.