Monday, 14 November 2011

Really Very Good Rabbit Ragu

I made this ages ago and completely forgot to blog about it. This was probably because I was mardy about the pictures as my kitchen was full of people so I couldn't take nice pictures, I had to use the ugly plates and then I got a bit pissed and sort of don't remember eating it. But I did have it again a couple of days later and it was utterly gorgeous, rich and gamey and the slow cooking of the tomato sauce meant it had an incredible depth of flavour.

The bunny in question has been a long time in coming, I decided I must eat a rabbit about a month before I made this and had since then been on a hunt for one, however without a good butcher near by I wasn't quite sure where I would be able to get one from. A Saturday trip out to Tynemouth market solved this issue. Something like the 3rd Sunday of every month they have a farmers market on, it had a pretty small selection of fresh produce and the stalls were mixed in with all the strange men selling odd electrical appliances but I stumbled across a great Northumbrian company selling fresh game and sea food and also these very large carrots.

Whole Rabbits + Saddles, we came back 5 minutes later and they had all gone!
For a whole rabbit it was £5 which worked out far more cost effective than getting it diced or just the saddle, however this did leave us with the issue of having a whole rabbit and not knowing entirely what to do with it. After lots of conflicting advice and a perusal of a few recipe books,  I settled on a Hugh recipe and managed to vaguely follow his advice.

Poor Little Bald Bunny
There were however few tips on how to butcher the rabbit and we didn't have a pot to fit it in whole thus this lead to some very debatable knife skills taking place and the back legs being snapped off. I doubt I am looking at a future career in butchery after this effort. The kitchen had by this point also started to fill up with people I didn't know who seemed very confused with my sunday night pursuit.

When the smells started coming off the slowly cooking stew they didn't seem confused for much longer (although a lot drunker for sure) as it made the entire house smell delicious, and the house normally has that welcoming smell of damp walls and unwashed clothes. When I took some left overs in for lunch later in the week a man told me I was the first person he has seen in England eat rabbit. Whilst this doesn't surprise me particularly, it is a shame because it is not only tasty it gives me a lovely quintessentially British feeling, especially when I know the rabbit has been locally caught.

After making the ragu, I made a stock from the carcass and joked about how I was now literally a bunny boiler. The other half looked awkward.

Rabbit Ragu with Pasta, apologises for the hideous plate

To Make Rabbit Ragu - Enough for 4 Large portions

- A Rabbit
- 4 Rashers of Smoked Bacon
- 2 Carrots
- A Stick of Celery
- 1 Onion, diced
- 2 Bay Leaves
- A Few Sprigs of Thyme
- Black Peppercorns
- 2 Cloves of Garlic
- 2 Tins of Chopped Tomatoes
- Chicken Stock
- Salt and Pepper to Season

1. Heat some olive oil and brown the bacon and rabbit in a deep sided pan, making sure to turn the rabbit so it gets colour on every side.

2. Add the diced onions and chopped celery and carrots and let them fry a little before adding in the bay leaves, thyme, peppercorns, garlic, chopped tomatoes and stock so that everything is submerged. Leave to cook away for about an hour and a half, you want your rabbit nice and tender after all

3. Sit in the kitchen and get drunk for an hour and a half before proceeding with the recipe.

4. Once it has sufficiently sorted take out the bay leaves and thyme stalks and throw away, take the rabbit pieces out and definitely do not throw away. The recipe said to strain the sauce to make the ragu, I said balls to that and blended it.

5. The rabbit meat has to be taken off the bones before being added back into the ragu. I then let it cook for another 20 minutes so the sauce thickened up nicely and served with pasta.

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