Can Cook, Must Cook

The food adventures of Franka P, a Trinidadian journalist living in London, UK. I'll write about my forays into all types of food and cooking, particularly Caribbean food. I'll also review books and recipes by the leading food writers and talk about the issues making headlines in the gastronomic world.

Sunday, March 19, 2006

Cute, furry and really tasty

I've been meaning to blog about the wild rabbit stew I cooked last Sunday.
I know some people will ask "how could you eat a cute, furry rabbit??"

Well, I'm sure that rabbit was cute but it tasted damn good!
I bought the rabbit on impulse two weekends ago at the Marylebone High Street Market in Central London. The kindly gentleman from Manor Farm Game suggested I try it, and at only £3.50 for a whole rabbit, I didn't think I could go too far wrong.

As soon as I got home, I got out my Meat Book and followed the instructions for jointing the rabbit. And while cutting it up, I marvelled at how little fat there was on the rabbit, all I could see was deep red - almost purple - muscle. I saved the blood and the liver, rinsed the meat and seasoned it with salt and black pepper before putting it in the freezer.
I imagined that rabbit should be cooked with a deep, rich sauce and many of the recipes I looked at said this. In the end I plumped for an adaptation of Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall's recipe for Jugged Hare from the Meat Book.
Essentially, to make Jugged Hare you sear the meat and cook it with shallots, carrots, garlic and smoked bacon. Once the meat is browned all over, pour in a bottle of cabernet sauvignon, brandy and water seasoned with a bouquet garni of parsley, thyme and bay leaves and cooked in a low oven for about two hours.
When the rabbit was done, the meat was so tender it was falling off the bone but the dish wouldn't be complete without a robust sauce. I strained the remaining sauce and mixed it with the rabbit's blood and finely chopped liver. After a bit of salt and pepper and a few minutes of gentle simmering, the sauce was ready.
My friends who tried the rabbit seemed to enjoy it. Heather (who took the accompanying photo) asked for seconds and my flatmate Maurice was impressed by the tenderness of the meat and the subtleness of the flavour. Anita, a great cook who doesn't eat meat was impressed by the look and smell of the dish.
And what did I think? I absolutely loved it. The rabbit was flavourful and very tender. I was expecting it to taste quite 'gamey' but it wasn't.
Rabbit is quite versatile, and can work in different styles of cooking quite easily. Unfortunately, rabbit isn't a meat that's commonly used in Caribbean cooking, but I think it would be great in a Trini style stew with dumplings or curried with vegetables and rice.
The next time I buy one, I'll certainly be cooking it in true Caribbean style.

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