Rabbit & Cider Casserole


Wild rabbits. Millions of the buggers, infesting the countryside, yet the vast majority of us shy away, seeing them as a ‘difficult’ meat alongside other game. But they have a mild flavour and excellent texture, though they do tend towards dryness. Wild are the best and any decent butcher should be able to get hold of them. He’ll also joint them for you. They’re cheap, too. Farmed rabbits are available but have all the depth of a baking sheet. This is a dish with a proper West Country burr, to be accompanied by a dry cider, preferably from Burrow Hill in Somerset.


  • 7 tablespoons plain flour
  • sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 rabbits (wild, if possible), jointed
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 25 g/1 oz butter
  • 1 onion, roughly chopped
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 2 sprigs thyme
  • 400 ml/14 fl oz good dry cider
  • 500 ml/18 fl oz chicken stock
  • 3 tablespoons double cream
  • small handful curly parsley, roughly chopped
  • steamed cabbage with crisp cooked bacon and mashed potatoes, to serve


Season 4 tablespoons flour generously, then roll the rabbit pieces in it, shaking off any excess. Heat the oil in a heavy-bottomed casserole over a medium–high heat and fry the rabbit for 5 minutes, turning once or twice, until golden brown. Remove from the pan and drain on kitchen paper.

Add the butter to the pan, then tip in the onion. Reduce the heat to medium and fry the onion for 10 minutes, until softened and golden. Stir in the remaining 3 tablespoons flour then add the bay leaf and thyme. Gradually pour in the cider and chicken stock, stirring continuously. Increase the heat to high and bring to the boil, stirring.

Return the rabbit to the casserole, taste and season. Cover, then reduce the heat to low and simmer for about 2 hours, or until the meat is tender and almost falling off the bone. (Alternatively, transfer the casserole to an oven preheated to 150°C/300°F/Gas 2 for 2 hours.)

Using a slotted spoon, remove the rabbit from the casserole and set aside on a warm plate. Pour the cream into the casserole and simmer gently for a few minutes, until slightly thicker. Return the rabbit to the casserole, along with any juices, then adjust the seasoning and sprinkle over the parsley. Serve with the cabbage and mashed potatoes.