Rabbit Braised in Red Wine with Orange and Allspice

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This is a good way to cook wild rabbit, which has more flavour than the garden bunny but takes more cooking. You’ll probably have to buy one from a butcher, so ask him to cut it into six pieces – forelegs, hindlegs, and the saddle into two. I think it’s pushing it a bit to get enough for four out of a rabbit, but you could if you served it up with dumplings, say. It pays to marinate the meat, from both the tenderizing and the flavouring points of view. You could also use this recipe for guineafowl, but you would need two birds for four people, and the cooking time would be an hour.

Ingredients

  • 11.5 kg rabbit, jointed in 6 pieces
  • 1 small carrot, thinly sliced
  • 1 large clove of garlic, thinly sliced
  • 2 bay leaves, crumbled
  • 1 good tsp ground allspice (grind your own if possible, or use fresh bought)
  • ½ tsp ground black pepper
  • 1 glass robust dryish red wine – like a good fruity Merlot from Chile
  • grated rind and juice of 1 large orange
  • 3 tbsp dark rum
  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 tbsp flour
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • 100 ml stock
  • 25 g butter, cold, cut into small pieces

Method

Put the rabbit in a large bowl with the next 8 ingredients and 1 tbsp of the olive oil, and mix together well. Leave in the fridge, turning occasionally, for at least 24 hours.

Preheat the oven to 350°F/180°C/Gas4.

Remove the rabbit pieces and dry them with kitchen paper. Put the flour in another bowl and dip the rabbit in it, covering well. Shake off the excess. Heat the rest of the olive oil in a frying pan and brown the pieces well on each side. Transfer to a casserole dish and season. Pour the marinade into the frying pan and scrape into it any brown bits in the bottom. Pour into the casserole, add the stock, bring to a simmer on top of the stove and then cook, covered, in the oven for 2–3 hours. Keep checking and turn the meat around occasionally. When it’s cooked, take the rabbit pieces out and keep hot. Strain the liquid into a clean saucepan, discarding the debris, and over high heat whisk in the butter. Divide the pieces between 3 plates and pour over the sauce, first reducing the sauce by boiling if necessary.

This is good with chunks of carrot and swede sprinkled with a little brown sugar and turned in hot butter.