Scots Rabbit Curry with Orange Marmalade Chutney in Peppered Shortbread Cups

Preparation info

  • Serves

    4 to 6

Appears in

Everything on the Table

Everything on the Table

By Colman Andrews

Published 1992

  • About

I made this dish up as sort of a joke—albeit a joke with a point. In the fall of 1990,1 prowled around Scotland for a time at the behest of the now-defunct British edition of Metropolitan Home, looking for good contemporary Scottish cooking. I found a great deal of more-than-competent French food, but disappointingly little that I thought made smart use of both local raw materials and traditional Scottish recipes. I was looking for, say, a Scottish Larry Forgione or Mark Miller, I guess, and didn’t find one. Just for fun, then, I invented a few recipes of the sort I imagined some young Scottish equivalent of those chefs might have come up with. This was one of them.

It might be noted that curry is an old Scottish tradition—Scots have been eating curry for longer than Americans have been eating hamburger—and that the curry portion of the recipe below is closely adapted from The Scots Kitchen (1929) by F. Marian McNeill. McNeill in turn borrowed it from a book published in Edinburgh in 1826, The Cook and Housewife’s Manual by “Mrs. Margaret Dods”—who was in fact one Mrs. Isobel Christian Johnston. (The original Dods was a character—a no-nonsense innkeeper—in the Sir Walter Scott novel St. Ronan’s Well, and Scott apparently helped Mrs. Johnston with her cookbook.)

Orange marmalade is a Scottish specialty, of course, said to have been invented by one Janet Keiller of Dundee in the early eighteenth century, as a way of utilizing the cargo of unfortunately bitter oranges her husband, James, had purchased from a storm-bound ship. As for the peppered shortbread, well, I simply made it up, but I was encouraged to do so by a reference I found somewhere or other in my researches on Scottish food to the fact that shortbread was originally not very sweet.

Ingredients

Chutney

  • 1 10-ounce jar good-quality Scottish orange marmalade (not bitter)
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon dried red chili flakes (more or less to taste)
  • ½ ounce fresh ginger root, peeled and minced
  • 2 garlic cloves, peeled and minced (more or less to taste)
  • Juice of ½ lemon
  • 2 tablespoons lightly toasted pine nuts

Peppered Shortbread Cups

  • 1 cup unbleached flour
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 5 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened to room temperature

Scots Rabbit Curry

  • 1 3- to 4-pound rabbit, cut into 8 or 12 pieces
  • Flour for dredging
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 3 tablespoons corn or other vegetable oil
  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
  • 1 onion, minced
  • 1 celery rib, minced
  • 8 white mushrooms, quartered
  • 1 tablespoon curry powder
  • ½ teaspoon turmeric
  • teaspoon cayenne
  • 2 teaspoons flour
  • 2 cups chicken stock
  • 6 ounces slab bacon, cut into ½″ cubes

Method

Gently melt marmalade in a small saucepan over low heat, stirring constantly, until liquefied. Put into blender or food processor with salt, chili flakes, ginger root, garlic, and lemon juice and process until well mixed. Stir in pine nuts.

Allow chutney to cool to room temperature, then refrigerate in covered container for at least 4 hours. About 2 hours before beginning curry, remove from refrigerator and bring to room temperature.

Preheat oven to 350°.

Mix flour, sugar, and pepper together thoroughly. Work butter into flour mixture with your hands; dough should be crumbly, but will hold together when squeezed.

Divide the dough evenly among 6 standard-sized ungreased muffin cups and press it evenly on the bottoms and up the sides of the cups. Prick the bottoms with a fork.

Bake for 22 to 25 minutes or until pale brown all over.

Allow shortbread to cool, then remove from molds. Shortly before serving, fill each cup generously with room-temperature chutney.

Dredge rabbit pieces in flour seasoned with salt and pepper to taste. In a large skillet over medium heat, heat the oil and butter. Add the rabbit and turn frequently until pieces are golden brown on all sides. Remove from pan with slotted spoon or tongs and set aside to drain on paper towels.

Add onion, celery, and mushrooms to pan and continue cooking until vegetables are soft. Dust mixture with curry powder, turmeric, cayenne, and 2 teaspoons flour. Stir well so that vegetables are well coated. Continue cooking until spices are fragrant, 3 to 4 minutes, then raise heat to high and add chicken stock.

Meanwhile, in another skillet, fry bacon until lightly browned, then drain on paper towels.

To finish sauce, lower heat to medium and simmer, stirring occasionally, until slightly thickened. Return rabbit to sauce and cook, turning pieces frequently, for about 5 minutes longer. Stir in bacon and add salt to taste.

Serve over plain boiled white rice, accompanied by orange marmalade chutney in a peppered shortbread cup.