Recipe: rabbit in wine

We made this back in February, and it was lovely – but I promptly forgot how to make it. Today, the rediscovery.


  • One rabbit per two people
  • Mushrooms (about a quarter-pound each)
  • Bacon (a handful)
  • Onion, garlic, etc as seems reasonable, plus stock
  • Red wine, in quantity.

If your rabbit is not yet dismantled, then dismantle it as discussed earlier. (If it is still fluffy, you’re on your own, but let me know how it went.) This time around, I took the meat off the thighs, and only cooked the forelegs as a complete unit; works well either way.

Fry the (finely chopped) onion and garlic, then the bacon, in a large flat-bottomed pan; once they look done, add the mushrooms, and then the rabbit. Once it’s browned, add the stock and some red wine – enough to cover it – and cook at a low heat, covered, for about an hour and a half, stirring regularly. If it looks like boiling dry, add more wine.

You should end up with some very deeply coloured meat – not much to look at, but tastes a lot better than it looks – and a small amount of liquid, depending how free you were with the wine. Serve with rice (it soaks up the excess wine better than potatoes) and whatever vegetables are to hand – I used diced carrots.

Haring about

So, last weekend, wandering through the market and wondering what to make for dinner – venison sausage stew, in the end, which was just as good as you might expect and carried me through to Wednesday – I noticed some recently deceased hares hanging outside one of the butchers; wandering a bit further on, I found some skinned and on sale. I was sorely tempted, but refrained on the ground that a) I had no idea what to do with them, and b) they were certainly too large to cook for myself, unlike a rabbit, which you can just about manage on your own.

Thinking about it afterwards, though, the temptation grew. Some research found recipies; some further questioning found some volunteers to eat it, and so on Thursday I bought a hare, stashed it in the freezer, and began to plot.

First discovery: it takes longer to thaw out a hare than you might think. Second discovery: ditto dismantling. I think I finally had it butchered about 1am on Saturday morning, with the kitchen looking like something of a charnel house. (Who would have thought the old man to have had so much blood in him?) Net product, two thighs (large), two forelegs (skinny), and a pile of chopped bits of meat. This is, I think, the first time I’ve dealt with the carcass of something wild rather than farmed – the prominent gunshot wound through the ribcage was a bit of a giveaway. An interesting, if messy, experience.

The reason I was butchering it the night before was in order to marinade it; a bottle or so of red wine, some wine vinegar, garlic, a chopped onion, some chopped carrots, and a handful of peppercorns, cloves, and a bouquet garni, something I always worry I will mistake for a teabag at the wrong moment. Stick it in the fridge (needing to rearrange the fridge in the process) and leave overnight.

Saturday, into town in the morning for some groceries, and then to work. Empty out the bowl, meat to one side, straining out the onion and carrot from the liquid; keep the marinade or discard it and start again with fresh wine, as you see fit. (I did the latter, partly because of an oversupply of cooking wine…). Fry the meat to brown it; the problem is, of course, that it has marinaded overnight in red wine, and so is somewhere between purple and black, so identifying “browned” is a bit tricky. Give it a shot.

I was aiming to feed five, so three duck legs to go with it – partly because duck would add some fat to the stew, and partly because I wasn’t sure quite how far the hare would go, and having one large leg per person seemed wise. Put all the meat into a large pot, cover with the strained marinade (or fresh wine) and some stock, begin simmering.

I ate the first of the hare at this point, one of the smaller pieces – it was cooked through – and it was… unexpectedly strong. I mean, I’d been expecting strong, but stronger than that; much more removed from rabbit than I’d expected.

The other elements were fairly simple, as well; some butter beans and a handful of carrots, which always stew up beautifully, plus the onions and carrot from the marinade, fried with a little bacon and then thrown in. Cover the pot and keep on a low heat for two hours, or longer. I served it with boiled potatoes, which were lovely, and some green beans, which were perhaps superfluous and could easily have been set aside in favour of more carrots (which were meltingly lovely).

So, the verdict? Interesting. Very strong; not unpleasant, but sharp and gamey, a bit more so than I’m normally comfortable with. I’m not sure the marinade really offset it much; I think I might try a different composition next time, and see if that helps. The other possibility is roasting it rather than stewing it – with a lot of additional fat – which does seem quite interesting but means I’d have to put a lot more effort in, and I’m not sure how the flavours would come out that way. My grandmother tells me that in the thirties she used to get hare soup after her father’s friends went shooting, which seems like it would work – the flavour would carry very well.

An interesting meal and worth it as an experiment, but I think I might stick with rabbit until I’ve had a chance to eat hare prepared by someone else and see what they do with it!

Recipe: rabbit stew (including surgery!)

On Friday, wandering through town after my haircut, I dropped into a butcher’s to buy a few sausages, or a bit of pork, or something. I came out with a rabbit.

I am not entirely sure how this happened. Still, never say die. What can you do with a rabbit? We thought for a bit, and decided on stewing. After consulting with the usual oracles (thanks, Ewan), this is what we came up with:


  • One rabbit, skinned and cleaned and rendered visibly less fluffy
  • Several slices of bacon
  • A handful of carrots, an onion, some garlic
  • A bottle of cider
  • Honey, some dried mixed herbs (or fresh thyme & bay, if you have it), salt, pepper
  • A large casserole dish, with lid, and an oven at ~120 degrees

First, start the bacon frying; when it’s lightly done, decant into casserole, and start on the onion and garlic ditto.

Meanwhile, prepare the rabbit. If it comes pre-jointed this is easy; if not, it’s remarkably good fun. (I thought so, anyway.) Get the forelegs off at the shoulder – a cut around them with a sharp knife and then a quick twist does it – and lay them to one side; do much the same for the hindlegs. Set your four limbs aside, and contemplate the residue.

You have two choices here; either you can carve it up and take off the meat, or you can just hack it up into lumps and stew those. (Or so the internet assures me) I preferred carving, because it seemed more fun and less likely to involve chewing on ribs.

This is somewhat hard to explain without pictures, but you’ll have a torso with the ribs and a meaty back at one end, and a spine tailing off at the other. The hips shouldn’t have much meat around it – it’ll have come off with the thighs – but if there is any, chop it off (without taking the bone) and put it aside. Now, cut off the “flaps” which are hanging off below the ribs – these covered the abdomen, and are boneless. Put them with the joints, but be careful not to get any of the rib ends, otherwise you’ll be picking them out of your teeth later.

You may want to now chop off the spine below the ribs, to make the next bit easier to handle; toss it aside, or keep it for stock, your call. Slice closely along the side of the spine above the ribcage, pointing downwards; then, slice closely along the top of the ribcage where it curves into the spine to meet this cut. You can basically now lift out these lovely fleshy bits; chop them into lumps and put them with the joints. Lastly, get the meat off the sides of the ribs; cut carefully with a small sharp knife and it should come off.

I think that’s the lot of it, but I’m writing from memory; I may take notes next time. Basically, carve off anything that comes off, watch out for the ribs, and keep poking around to see if you’ve missed anything.

End result : one pile of rabbit meat (small), one skeleton fit for stock or feeding to any carnivorous animals you have around the house (small), one sense of achievement (medium). I don’t know if you can actually feed rabbit bones to small carnivorous animals, so you might need to check that bit first. Or bury it in the garden, dig it up in a year, and present it to a small child who wants to be a vet.

Anyway, when we went into surgery the bacon, onions and garlic were lightly sizzling. Decant them into the casserole, leaving the fat in the pan, and then fry your rabbit with enthusiasm. Get it nice and golden, and in it goes too. Chop the carrots into lumps, and in they go; add a couple of spoonfuls of honey, the herbs, salt, pepper, stir it all around. Top off with enough cider to cover it all; if you’ve not enough, then a little warm water to suit. (If you’ve too much, have a drink. Thirsty work.)

Pop it all in the oven at about 120 degrees for about two hours. (A little warmer or a little longer won’t hurt at all, of course). Serve with rice or bread or potatoes – something solid and absorbent. Serves two to four depending on whether you remembered to eat lunch.

Next experiment: do it with wine. Rabbit in red wine does sound delightful…

Recipe: too much passata

Last night, we made pizzas. (This is now my favourite way of feeding a dozen people – the work can be shared out easily, it allows for complex democratisation of who eats what and how much of it, and you can spread it over an hour so you only need one oven.)

The problem was, we ended up with too much sauce. A small bowl of heavy, thick, gloopy passata-and-garlic-and-basil sauce which I salvaged for dinner today; nice and rich, but too thick to put on pasta.

So, take the sauce, bulk it out a bit with a small tin of tomato pureé and an equal amount of warm water; mix in chopped cooked sausages, chopped carrots, and some mushrooms. Cook for about thirty minutes at 200 degrees; stir, add some cheese on top, another twenty minutes. Serve with an enormous pile of rice.

Not bad, all told, but more filling than it looked at first! Two things that’d have improved it:

  • parboiling the carrots before adding them, as they came out a little too crunchy
  • using equal amounts of red wine and pureé, rather than water and pureé

We had red wine to hand, in fact, but vetoed using it because it seemed too nice to cook with and there wasn’t much left. I think that was the right decision, but it’s tough to say.